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Conference Realignment: Boise State Pitches the Big 12

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Praise from President Obama and a stadium expansion are selling points.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - TCU v Boise State
Boise State looks to line up against TCU as conference foes in the near future.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

With 19 teams for the Big 12 to choose from, conference representatives have a long road ahead of them. Although there is some back room deals much of the process involves interested universities pitching themselves as the best choice to advance the conference financially, athletically, and academically. The Big 12 has alluded to the fact that they are only opening up two slots into the lucrative power 5 conference. The conference will have 18 teams to choose from.

According to Brett McMurphy the teams that are making official pitches are Air Force, Arkansas State, Boise State, BYU, Cincinnati, Colorado State, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, Northern Illinois, New Mexico, San Diego State, Southern Methodist, Temple, Tulane, Central Florida, South Florida and UNLV.

Air Force throwing it’s hat in may dash other MWC team’s hopes since, as a service academy, they have very strong academics, steadily improving athletics, and a large national brand that is financially backed by the government.

Although videos were submitted by each of the schools vying for a spot, we are given a rare look at the accompanying documents sent to the Big 12 by one of those schools. The Idaho Statesman was able to obtain the brochure sent to Big 12 representatives by Boise State, giving us a look into what one school thinks the Big 12 is looking for.

Boise State presents a strong case for how the last 15 years of revenue generating football dominance has been reinvested into massive academic growth. The Broncos start off with a visit paid to the University by Barack Obama and how the president praised Boise State as a technically savvy university.

Barack Obama at a Boise State Lab
The Idaho Statesman
Part of Boise State’s pitch to the Big 12
The Idaho Statesman

Boise State then moves on to their biggest athletic achievement and that is the three Fiesta Bowl wins and how the huge boost in revenue has helped the Broncos boost their academics. Although the Broncos national ranking is lower a few of the teams on this list, Boise State actually has had the largest average academic growth among all of the teams on the list wanting a Big 12 invite.

Boise State Academic Pitch to the Big 12
Boise State University

Fully embracing it’s Information Technology and Business roots, Boise State touts its national ranking in producing Fulbright Scholars, it’s partnerships with other technical universities such as Georgia Tech, and the $10 Million National Health Center of Biomedical Research Grant awarded to Boise State to further biomedical engineering.

Of course Boise State swings back to the massive on field and financial success their athletics have had. Quoting the brochure:

In the last 10 years, 13 Boise State athletic programs have won at least one team conference championship, and the department has combined for 33 such titles during that time.

In 2015-2016 alone, the Broncos have claimed conference athlete of the year in four sports, three league coach of the year awards, 38 individual conference championships and 130 all-conference honors.

Understanding that the Boise market would be one of the smaller markets of the 18 teams Boise State showcases its national brand. The Broncos also claim that their collegiate licensing sales average is 43.6 pushing them well within Power 5 territory.

Boise State National Brand
Boise State University

The brochure closes out with a plan that has been on the table for the past five years, which is Boise State’s goal of expanding Albertson’s Stadium from it’s current capacity of 36,387 to 48,0000. That stadium would be larger than Colorado State’s new 41,000 capacity stadium. The Broncos highlight their average home attendance record of 34,000 which is the highest among Mountain West teams and 3rd among the list of 18 teams pitching the Big 12, with only BYU and Cincinnati drawing more fans to their games.

Boise State Proposed Stadium Expansion
Idaho Statesman

The Broncos approach this expansion with the hope that the Big 12 sees Boise State as the candidate with not only the athletic pedigree but the highest future potential as a university. They spin their problems in academics and market into the potential for what the future holds for the university.

The glaring issue that was not addressed is travel. On average Boise State is the furthest team from Big 12 opponents with San Diego State and South Florida coming in 2nd and 3rd on distance. The only mitigation to this is if BYU is added to the conference as well.

Boise State’s pitch shows that they are one of the top candidates from the Mountain West, but if the Big 12 is only looking for two teams I find it hard to believe that any MWC team gets an invite. I am standing by my original prediction that the Big 12 plays it safe by inviting only two teams, and those two will come from a combination of BYU, Houston, and Cincinnati.