Should Boise St. Stay (in MWC) or Go (to Big East)?
By Matt Peloquin
I’ve started to change my position on Boise St. recently. I’m now starting to think that there is some validity to them remaining in the MWC. So it was refreshing to hear that Boise St. has been having the same thoughts and that I’m not a crazy person thinking that Boise St. might be better off leaving all that extra Big East TV money behind in favor of remaining in the Mountain West conference. And here’s why…
Boise St. hasn’t been one of those programs that seems overly focused on making big bucks as their sole motivation. That’s not exactly the case for some of the other schools in conferences above the Mountain West. But for Boise St., it’s always been about showing that they belong. When they sneak into a BCS bowl, they put on a show and stress that same message through player and coach interviews. Even better, they believe what they are saying.
The move to the Big East was about getting that opportunity every year just by winning their conference. It was a good move with the Big East BCS AQ in play…a great move. Because it meant if they win the conference, which they expect to do each year, they would get into the BCS. And due to location, it makes them more appealing to other bowls, so they aren’t just a school to plug into the Orange bowl each year like the usual Big East winner is. The Fiesta might actually WANT Boise St some years!
But for Boise St., the future seems to hinge on the SPECIFICS of the proposed BCS +1 setup.
If Boise St. is a top 4 “ranked” schools using some system AND even if to be eligible, a school HAS to be a conference champion, Boise St. will likely, in 8 out of 10 years of going undefeated, make the “playoffs”. They know how it works: if you are not in the Big Ten, SEC, Big 12 or Pac-12 or even ACC to an extent, if you lose 1 game, you are OUT of the BCS at-large running right now. But with a 4 school playoff, they don’t have to compete to be in the #1 or #2 spot for a title shot, they just need to win their conference and be ranked in the Top 4 to have a chance. Go undefeated, and that will happen most years.
But if Boise St. remains in the MWC…
If they win most years, they are in the playoffs…with a chance to win the championship by winning two games. A Boise St. program in the Big East (if they still had the 5 BCS games), would almost never be in a position to play for a title…since the Big East is so weakened now, it’s not likely that they would be in the 1 or 2 spot, even if undefeated, over (2) 1 loss schools like the SEC and Big Ten champions.
But in the MWC, they can win the conference, make the playoffs, play regional schools, cut their overall travel budget for athletics, keep the profits rather than having to invest them into travel for their non-football sports (Big Sky is only conference that would cut travel costs more than MWC would).
Join the Big East, and the school will get more TV money. Period. The MWC is not the caliber of conference it was with Boise St., TCU BYU and Utah now gone. Nevada has been a strong program of late and a nice addition. But them, teamed with Hawaii, Fresno St., Utah St. and SanJose St. just isn’t a power conference that will generate the type of television revenue that the Big East can, even with the additions of the Bay Area market, and bringing back the Salt Lake City market..The kicker is TV money.
But does that matter to Boise St. as much as a chance to winning a title?
Maybe not, which goes against so much of the current trends.
But that might just be the case with Boise St., hence them even considering the MWC at a time when they know the Big East TV contract will be better than the MWC.
Because in the end, Boise St. might be able to generate more revenue by making it to the playoffs or even winning title(s) over the years.
And if that happens, Boise St. could parlay that success (if they can achieve it) into their own Tier 3 TV contract. If they could negotiate 1-2 games a year on their own with say, ESPN, that would be a huge get for them. Just look at the BYU money as an independent. Imagine a National Champion Boise St. team….think they could work out a good TV deal for 1-2 games a year? I do, if the MWC permits it.
But it’s worth it to the MWC, since all the other Boise St. games would be under the MWC package, increasing the television contract value. That’s just how it works. Look at the Pac-10. Even years when USC was the only dominant force, the Pac-10 still had a large TV presence and value. The MWC might never be at the same level as the Pac-12, but they can improve their annual revenue.
So that’s where we are at. The MWC sits at 10 schools with spots waiting for Boise St. and San Diego St. If Boise St. opts to return, it seems safe to assume San Diego St. would follow.
For the Mountain West, it’s a given: if Boise St. and San Diego St. need help from the Mountain West to pay the exit fees from the Big East, do it. It’s $15 million dollars in one year ($5 million for Boise St., $10 million for SDSU) that will help make them hundreds of millions in the future. Dont’ want to spend the money to bail out SDSU? Fine, try to get CUSA to permit UTEP to swing over to the MWC as #12, freeing up another spot in CUSA for an MTSU, FAU, ODU, App St., UMass pair to get to 14.
The MWC is a nice conference and bounced back from the defections. But Wyoming, Colorado St., Fresno St., Nevada, etc aren’t going to drive future MWC TV contracts. Boise St. will. So whatever the MWC needs to do to convince Boise St. to change their mind, just do it.
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