The Air Force Falcons were always on the fence about joining the Big East and it is now official that they are staying put in the Mountain West in all sports. Lt. Gen. Michael Gould released a statement early today about the decision:
"The Air Force Academy will remain in the Mountain West Conference, where we have been since 1998-99 when we were a co-founding member of the conference. I made this decision based on what's best for our cadet-athletes and the institution as a whole. This decision was made based on things like regional rivalries (like just playing our 50th football game against Colorado State Univ.), loyalties to the conference, travel time for our cadet athletes and fans, school time missed, and travel costs. I feel the Academy is a key and pivotal member of the Mountain West, and think we can do a lot to help this conference continue its tradition of excellence. We of course continue to watch the changes happening not only in the Mountain West, but within NCAA sports around the country. As for now, ‘We're ALL IN' the Mountain West Conference."
This is refreshing to hear that things such as class time, regional rivalries and travel time are considered over the almighty dollar. Typically when academics are mentioned as reasons for not having a college football playoff normally I laugh it off, but with the service academies education is highly regarded -- as are a few other schools across the country. I also think that the move was not made because there is only a certain level of athlete that Air Force can recruit due to restrictions for incoming cadets, and moving to stronger league normally means recruiting will increase. At Air Force that probably would not happen and the football team would suffer more loses and over time be less relevant.
This is a big win for the Mountain West to keep a strong team and hopefully keep the league thriving for years to come regardless of what the league looks like.