College football is changing. The sport is driven by money and power. In the process, we have lost tradition and rivalries in favor of TV ratings and contracts. It is the world we live in, and it isn’t going to change anytime soon. Texas and Oklahoma heading to the SEC in 2025 (probably sooner) created waves across college football. But the question we need to answer is how will this impact the Mountain West? Let’s look at a few different scenarios:
The Big 12 adds between two to four teams
When the news first broke, this seemed like the most logical path. The Big 12 would look at adding schools like BYU, Cincinnati, UCF, Memphis, maybe even Boise State. If this scenario were to occur, I think Boise State is probably fifth or sixth on the list and will probably be left out. This would weaken the AAC and probably level the playing field with the Mountain West. I think there probably needs to be at least six teams moving for this to really impact the Mountain West.
The Big Ten gets involved and raids the PAC 12 or takes Kansas and Iowa State, which leads to the PAC 12 and Big 12 Merging
This might be the scenario that gets Craig Thompson worried. If the Big Ten takes any teams from the PAC 12 (UCLA, USC, Washington, and Oregon have all been mentioned), then what is left of the two conferences would probably be better off combining forces to create a new conference. If this were to occur and the conference needs to add a couple more schools Boise State, San Diego State, and BYU will likely be at the top of the list. This scenario feels like a long shot, but I have seen this idea floated around on social media quite a bit.
The AAC gets the leftovers
This would be an absolute disaster for the Mountain West. If the Big 12 dissolves and the AAC gets the leftovers, that will not bode well for the Mountain West. This would likely lead to fewer automatic bids for conference champions, and it would make it much more difficult for any Mountain West school to ever make the College Football Playoff. If the media is right, and ESPN is working with the AAC to add teams from the Big 12, the result will be the Mountain West becoming more irrelevant. This would be a doomsday scenario for programs like Boise State.
The Mountain West expands
The best scenario for the Mountain West would be the Big 12 dissolving and some of the programs landing in the Mountain West. This would take a lot of dominoes falling and a herculean effort by Craig Thompson and probably his TV partners. To this point, CBS and Fox have been staying out of things. With the new TV contract, the Mountain West is starting to have more games nationally televised on Fox and CBS. Would these two networks look to help the conference land a Kansas State or Texas Tech? I doubt it, but we can dream. It is hard to envision this scenario happening, but it is possible.
What do I think will happen?
I think the Big 12 adds BYU and Cincinnati and realignment talks cool down for a while. This will allow things to stay status quo for a while. But, it looks like super conferences are the future of college football, and schools from the Mountain West are likely going to be on the outside looking in.
How do you see conference realignment playing out? Leave your predictions in the comments below.