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The New "Big" Plan for the Mountain West

(Bumped to the front page for thinking outside the box.)

I've been advocating for a while that the Mountain West should partner with Conference USA for various things. But perhaps I'm looking at this the wrong way.

Perhaps, instead of the Mountain West working with Conference USA, it should work with the Big East.

...

I know it sounds crazy (and it sort of is) ... but work with me here.

I also know that there are many assumptions that I'm going to make below, but everything that I spell out is still theoretically possible. So let's run with it.

On of the things the Big East seems to be puffing its chest out about is that it now stretches from coast-to-coast. The claim is technically true ... but its presence west of the Rockies isn't all that great. Two football teams and nothing else. Along with that, it has been ridiculed for continuing to call itself the Big East, given that it now has one football team in Idaho and another in California.

What if there was a way for the Big East to reform the conference so that the geographical insanity ended, but it still had the benefit of a presence out west? And in addition to that, the Mountain West Conference would gain exposure out east?

Imagine the following four-part plan ...

Part One: The Mountain West becomes a 12-school league for football and for Olympic sports.

  • Unable to convince the Big West to accept it, Boise State decides to abandon the Big East and stay entirely in the Mountain West.
  • San Diego State continues its Olympic sports move to the Big West, but keeps its football program in the Mountain West.
  • The Mountain West now has two football-only members (Hawaii and San Diego State).
  • The Mountain West splits into two divisions for football:
    • Mountain Division: Boise State, Utah State, Wyoming, Colorado State, Air Force, New Mexico
    • Western Division: Hawaii, San Diego State, San Jose State, Fresno State, Nevada, UNLV
  • The conference football schedule consists of eight games, giving each team four non-conference games.
  • The conference creates a football championship game (hosted by the best team).
  • The Mountain West adds Denver and Seattle for non-football sports, bringing the Olympic sports members up to 12. If divisions are necessary, Boise State moves to the Western Division for non-football sports.


Part Two: The Big East regains geographical sanity.

  • Boise State, San Diego State and Navy abandon their plans to join the Big East.
  • SMU, Houston, Memphis and UCF continue their move into the Big East.
  • The Big East adds Massachusetts and Tulsa as full members.
  • The Big East splits into two divisions for football:
    • Eastern Division: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rutgers, Temple, Central Florida, South Florida
    • Western Division: Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis, Tulsa, Southern Methodist, Houston
  • The conference football schedule consists of eight games, giving each team four non-conference games.
  • The conference creates a football championship game (hosted by the best team).
  • The Big East splits into two divisions for basketball (hopefully with better division names than these):
    • South & West: Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis, Tulsa, SMU, Houston, DePaul, Marquette, UCF, USF
    • North & East: UMass, UConn, Rutgers, Temple, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall, Villanova, Georgetown, Notre Dame
  • The Big East now is now a 12-team football league and a 20-team basketball (and other sports) league.


Part Three: The conferences schedule inter-conference games.

  • The Big East and Mountain West agree to schedule the following:
    • A bowl game matching the Mountain West champ against the Big East champ (or second-best if a conference's best team is in a playoff);
    • One out-of-conference football game (MW school vs. BE school) for each school every year, based on recent levels of success;
    • One or two out-of-conference basketball games (MW school vs. BE school) for each school every year.
  • Additional out-of-conference matchups are scheduled if agreed to by both conferences for other sports.


Part Four: Show me the money.

  • The Big East and Mountain West jointly negotiate with television networks for a new contract. The contract includes not only the conference games for both conferences, but also includes:
    • The Mountain West football championship game
    • The Big East football championship game
    • The inter-conference football & basketball games (and other games if applicable)
  • The "champions bowl" game is bid out separately to the highest bidder.

This alliance of the Big East and Mountain West would provide many, many quality games across the entire country, and would provide much more than the Big East could do by only taking BSU & SDSU's football teams. The Mountain West and Big East are both strong basketball conferences and have the best collection of football teams outside of the "top five" conferences.


Why would this work, and how would it help the Mountain West?

  • This plan presents a television network (hello NBC) with an enormous amount of sports programming across the entire country. It is truly a coast-to-coast TV package, not what the Big East claims to call a coast-to-coast package.
  • The "champions bowl" with the MW & BE champs would be one of only a few bowls matching conference champions, and would also be an "East vs. West" battle.
  • By partnering with the Big East instead of Conference USA, the Mountain West can have higher-quality out-of-conference games against higher-profile opponents.
  • The Mountain West is one of the best (if not the best) basketball league that hasn't had "AQ status." The Big East benefits from an alliance with the Mountain West by providing one or two competitive matchups each year for its teams, as well as exposure out west. Likewise, the Mountain West benefits from the exposure out east.
  • This creates four geographically sensible divisions (for both football and basketball) within the two conferences, but still creates long-distance games that help with exposure across the nation.
  • And ... take a look at the markets these two conferences combined would have a presence in:
    • New England (UMass, UConn, Providence)
    • New York City (St. John's)
    • New Jersey (Seton Hall, Rutgers)
    • Philadelphia (Temple, Villanova)
    • Washington, DC (Georgetown)
    • Florida (UCF, USF)
    • Cincinnati
    • Louisville
    • Indiana (Notre Dame)
    • Chicago (DePaul)
    • Milwaukee (Marquette)
    • Memphis
    • Tulsa
    • Dallas (SMU)
    • Houston
    • Wyoming
    • Colorado / Denver (Colorado State, Denver, Air Force)
    • New Mexico
    • Utah (Utah State)
    • Idaho (Boise State)
    • Seattle
    • Nevada / Las Vegas (Nevada, UNLV)
    • Northern California (San Jose State, Fresno State)
    • Southern California (San Diego State)
    • Hawaii

So here's the abbreviated version of how this would benefit the Mountain West:

  • More TV money
  • More TV exposure
  • More exposure across the country
  • A conference championship game for football
  • A guaranteed quality bowl game for the conference football champ
  • More quality out-of-conference games for both football and basketball

Any questions?

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