While March Madness is about to begin in earnest, their is still plenty of off season football to discuss. The latest does not directly impact the Mountain West, but it should be something they need to make a move on.
I am referring to the Holiday Bowl which is in discussions with the Big Ten to replace the Big 12. This is a perfect matchup for the Big Ten since it gives them another presence in California, and pits them against the Pac-12.
The Big Ten is looking for more bowl tie-ins now that they are going to be at 14 teams with the additions of Rutgers and Maryland. The league is also looking at the Russell Athletic Bowl, and the NewEra Pinstripe Bowl.
The two leagues and the bowl have mutual interest to have the Big Ten replace the Big 12:
"Oh yeah, there's interest," Holiday Bowl executive director Bruce Binkowski told ESPN.com. "Obviously, we're still tied in with the Big 12 and we're talking to them, but we're also interested in possibly tying in with the Big Ten. Everything's wide open right now."
The Mountain West needs to make a play to get into the Holdiay Bowl, and they have a chip with San Diego State playing in that stadium. It has already been discussed on this site about the Mountain West trying to snag a spot in the Fiesta Bowl, but the Holiday Bowl is more attainable.
The HOliday Bowl currently features the No. 3 Pac-12 team going up against the No. 5 Big 12 team. This would be a huge upgrade for the Mountain West, whose champion typically plays the fifth or sxith Pac-12 team, one that struggles to get above six wins.
The odds of being a better option than the Big Ten is highly unlikely, but the league needs to put itself out there to show they are interested. One way the Mountain West could position itself better than the Big Ten is that they can offer a better team. Assuming the Big Ten goes with their fifth place team, and then consider the playoff and Rose Bowl situation, that could end up easily being their seventh best team. Last year, their seventh best team was a 7-6 Michigan State, and that includes if Ohio State and Penn State were eligible. Actually, it would have sent their sixth best team which would have been Wisconsin who was 8-6 -- including the Big Ten title game which they earned almos by default -- with an 8-4 regular season.
Whereas the Mountain West champion would be ranked in the top 25 with 10 or more wins, and would go there when the champion is not heading to a major access bowl. In theory the better team could come from the Mountain West, but the bigger brand would come from the Big Ten.
That is where the Mountain West loses out, and likely will never be in the discussion to earn a spot in the Holiday Bowl.