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Time to Create the Mountain Pacific Conference?

Bob Keisser, a sports, writer and columnist at the Long Beach Press Telegram since 1990, thinks so. In an article yesterday he suggested a merger between the Mountain West Conference and the Big West Conference. This new conference would be modeled on the Big East Conference, only better.

Would there be much support for that? You have to think the idea might have legs. Long Beach State athletic director Vic Cegles is one Keisser cites as thinking that the LBS 49ers' interests might be better served with the MWC. On the MWC side of things commissioner Craig Thompson’s has long championed a mega-conference. A merger with the Big West could give him that without all the geographical headaches associated with a CUSA merger. It would also keep the league firmly anchored in the West and create more stability for a conference that has been shaken recently with the defections of two of its strongest members. This could help restore them to the fold. Don't be surprised if some interest has already been generated this morning over in Colorado Springs.

In the league envisioned by Keisser, a merged MWC and Big West would produce a large, western-based conference structured around a 20-team conference. For football, the league could expand to 12 by providing the motivation for Cal Poly and UC Davis to advance to Division I play and join the new conference. Other programs that could also be considered would be New Mexico State, Texas State, and Sacramento State to name a few.

The basketball side of his equation would consist of two divisions: Fresno, San Diego State, San Jose State, LB State, UC Santa Barbara and six other Big West teams. He points out that every major TV market would be covered in the state of California. The mountain division would consist of Colorado State, Air Force, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah State, UNLV, Boise, Nevada and Hawaii. There could also be three six-team divisions in baseball with a huge, eight-team postseason tournament. The platform created for women's sports such as basketball and volleyball would also be strengthened in the new conference.

The new conference would certainly expand and strengthen the footprint of the MWC. More importantly, Keisser points out that the geography and sheer volume of sports programming available to the networks from the new conference would be hard for any TV network to pass up, especially in the large media centers of the Pacific Time Zone. The new Mountain Pacific Conference would similar to the Big East in size, but without the geographic issues. But it also keeps the new league on the road to growth and greater prosperity.