With all the bowl talk last week with the Alamo, Sun, and Holiday Bowl. The Mountain West decided to get in on the action as well by extending their deal with the Las Vegas Bowl through 2012 and all across the Mountain West all one can hear is the crickets.
In this new deal the Las Vegas Bowl gets first pick from the Mountain West and now instead of the Pac-10 rotating between the fourth and fifth team, the bowl now pits the Pac-10 fifth team.
Wow!! what a reward --usually the champ--for a league that wants to be respected and gain a seat at the BCS table. This is problematic because the record of the fifth place team is typically not impressive and not acceptable for a conference champ to be playing a team that scrapes by with a .500 record.
The chart below shows the record of the last five years of the fifth place team from the Pac-10 and the matchup that would have happened:
Arizona 7-5 vs. BYU 10-2
UCLA 6-6 vs. BYU 10-2
Arizona State 6-6 vs. BYU 10-2
Arizona State 6-5 vs. BYU 6-5
UCLA 6-5 vs. Wyoming 6-5
The 2004 and 2005 years was when the Mountain West had their champ go to the Liberty Bowl which featured the MWC champ versus the C-USA champ, with the Las Vegas bowl taking the second choice. The way the Mountain West is trending how will it look when the first choice is 11-1 or 10-2, ranked in the top 20, and plays an 6-6 inconsistent team from the Pac-10. The league is then in a no-win situation because they should win and will get no credit for that; then if they lose it will add more fuel to the fire that the Mountain West is a second tier conference.
When the league dropped the Liberty Bowl they did nothing to improve the bowl situation --as promised by Craig Thompson-- and just elevated the Las Vegas bowl to the top spot. The bowl is a joke it is pre-Christmas and the payout is one of the lowest of all the bowls.
There is minimal hope is that the bowl says they will be trying to make the date of the game more attractive:
In addition, along with this new contract, we will begin exploring opportunities to move future dates of our bowl to after the Christmas holiday for the first time ever to help grow our game.
Do not expect the MWC fans to hold their breathe, because in years past Commissioner Craig Thompson and the bowl committee have stated that the reason the bowl is not post Christmas is because Las Vegas is too expensive around New Year's. What a way to slap your fans in the face, and they seem forget that Vegas is pretty central and within driving distance to the league schools.
The ideal scenario with this bowl would have been to pit the WAC league champ against the MWC champ. Now that would have been a solid matchup and an improvement over the 5th place Pac-10 team. The only hope for a decent bowl situation is for the Mountain West to get a team to qualify for the BCS.