With last week’s news of Texas and Oklahoma looking to leave the Big12 for the SEC, this may set up a domino effect for the next wave of conference realignment. This week’s roundtable question is a two-parter: will there be another round of conference realignment and if so, will it affect the Mountain West in any way?
Adam: This could go one of two ways, and with both the MWC needs to be prepared.
On one hand, if this turns into just another early 2010s with just teams here and there jumping around, then this feels like the best time for Boise State to jump out of the conference. The Big 12 will no doubt be looking for teams, as will the AAC and the Pac 12 won’t be far behind. The Broncos should be #1 on many lists as an addition from the Group of Five conferences. Add in the Broncos building up their basketball team to be formidable once again and I have the same feeling I did when they jumped out of the WAC.
On the other hand, if this turns into conferences looking to turn into super conferences, it would behooves the MWC to reach out to the AAC to broker a deal. The MWC can ill-afford the MAC jumping in and claiming that spot with the AAC. If that were to occur this conference can fall by the wayside very much like the WAC did.
At the end of the day, Boise State will leave the Mountain West this time around.
Zach: I don’t see any Mountain West schools going to the Power 5. I think the most likely thing to happen is the Big 12 dissolving. Boise State moving to the AAC is the most likely scenario, but this will take some time to settle. But when the dust settles, Boise State lands in the AAC with a travel partner or two. I will go with BYU and SDSU.
Mike: There are a few possibilities of what could happen in the years or months to come, each of them as unlikely as the next. Maybe the Big 12 poaches a few schools from the Mountain West to replace Texas and Oklahoma. Perhaps the Mountain West goes on the offensive and poaches the remaining Big 12 schools, bolstering their rankings. Or maybe the Mountain West and American combine forces to form of new best of the rest conference. However, the most likely conclusion, nothing changes at all for the Mountain West. Regardless, either the Big 12 is weakened, or they will dissolve. Both of these scenarios make it more likely that the Mountain West is better positioned to be one of the top 6 conferences come playoff expansion time.
NittanyFalcon: Everyone is guessing on this issue, and I’m no exception. I do think that all the Power 5 conferences have liked the setup where they were the only teams who had an opportunity for a championship in the CFP. The twelve team playoff erodes that setup somewhat and they will be trying to maintain the feedback loop that gives them a huge advantage in recruiting. The fewer teams there are that have a chance, the better off they are. I don’t think many teams will get a chance to join the show, if any. So I agree with Mike and Zach that the most likely result is that the Mountain West will keep its current members, and perhaps add a few more. Personally, I don’t see the AAC as a better alternative to the Mountain West for the very reasons that Boise decided that conference was not doable for them a few years ago.
Vic: To pose the question itself should be creative license to think big and bold. An article on commissioner Thompson that I posted last year, painted him as a competitive innovator with a mindset to spread the wealth. It should be time to make another signature move because realignment and super conferences seem to be on some power brokers’ minds.
Also, the MWC sitting idle is a move in itself, so might as well make moves whether it’s partnerships, “products” or even poaching to say the least. The MWC is a perfect underdog for some thoughtful, calculated move.
The world is changing mightily too. Why not partner/leverage NIL to help benefit players? Why not explore more of the new media, as it’s not about TV markets anymore. Why not explore the advanced web 3.0 world? Ok a little out there, but “why not?” should be the question with the next question, “how do we create new or better experiences for not just the players, but the audience and markets?
Regardless, the conference should be proactive even if the Texas-Oklahoma move becomes hot air.
Graham_Gibson: This is a really important time for the Mountain West, just like it was 10 years ago. The Mountain West has with all honesty has fallen behind the American Conference and it really isn’t going to look good if a conference that is already behind loses teams such as Boise State, San Diego State, Air Force, Fresno State, or even Nevada to another conference. If the Mountain West decides to expand to increase its relevance on the national stage, they are really going to need to do some hard research.
Yes, there is going to be another wave of conference realignment. It’s inevitable because the Big 12 is going to be looking to find replacements for Oklahoma and Texas, arguably the two biggest brands in the Big 12. This means that the Big 12 could look into the Mountain West and the American Conference to fill the vacated spots. Even if the Big 12 was to look at the American Conference only the Mountain West could still be affected because the American Conference could be looking for new additions.
The same can be said for the Pac-12. If teams start to leave the Pac-12 then the conference will be in need of new teams and geographically, the Mountain West might actually be a smart place to look. The Mountain West could also keep its current members and find a few more to add. Realignment is probably still a couple of years down the road and there is a lot to sort out but it is assuredly coming.