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The Biggest Realignment Loser

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Boise State built a reputation as a football powerhouse. Is realignment impacting their reputation?

NCAA Football: Boise State at Central Florida Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

When I write for Mountain West Connection, I generally try to put my feelings as a fan to the side. But the news of Big XII expansion has hit me hard. Over the past 20 years, Boise State has built a reputation of dominance, by beating the big boys and running roughshod over conference opponents. But that dominance has waned in recent years and a new television contract has reduced the exposure the Broncos once had.

Boise State has been chosen over programs that have more recent success (in some cases) and some with larger markets. I’m not going to lie, the Curt Apsey years (former AD) lead to a period of stagnancy. His scheduling philosophy was questionable (home and homes with Sun Belt teams) and his lack of urgency left many Bronco fans frustrated. Fundraising and facilities seemed to stall as well. The program didn’t necessarily regress, but it didn’t grow either. New athletic director Jeramiah Dickey looks like an excellent hire. But is it too late? With Boise State being left out yet again, what’s next? Here are the options for Boise State moving forward:

Stay Put

The Mountain West hasn’t exactly been aggressive when it comes to conference expansion. Does that change with the American in a weakened state? There is a certain comfort level with the current Mountain West and there is always the fact that the current geography of the Mountain West makes sense, can other conferences say the same thing?

Expand

There are some really strong Group of Five programs that might be looking for a new home. If Craig Thompson hasn’t been on the phone with SMU, Memphis and Tulsa he isn’t doing his job. The Mountain West should be in a position of strength here. I also think UTSA and Tulane are some intriguing names here. But Thompson shouldn’t stop there, call Gonzaga and get them in the Mountain West ASAP! I might even look at Wichita State from the AAC and St. Mary’s while I’m at it. One of those teams could slide in nicely since Hawaii is only a football member.

Tell me this isn’t a solid conference:

West

Hawaii, Fresno State, San Diego State, San Jose State, Nevada, UNLV, Boise State, Utah State

East

Memphis, Tulane, SMU, Tulsa, Wyoming, Colorado State, Air Force, New Mexico

This would solidify the Mountain West as the number six conference and land them a big bowl game nearly every year.

Start a New Conference

This isn’t going to happen. But a new conference with a focus on putting the best on field product out there. Do these university presidents have the guts to go rogue? I doubt it. Would it be more beneficial from a financial perspective? It’s hard to say. We forget about Olympic sports during all of this. Over the years, Boise State has developed a well-rounded sports department. The women’s programs have thrived over the last decade. We need to make sure we are taking care of all athletes. But ultimately, money talks.

Go Independent

I keep hearing this more and more from fans on Twitter. My response is always “absolutely not.” I like winning championships and think it is important for out athletes to have something to strive toward. Independence takes that away and bowl tie-ins are never guaranteed. Plus, we will get stuck with a bunch of 8:30 kickoffs again. As a dad that likes to take his kids to games, no thank you.

What I want to happen:

Well, obviously I’d like Boise State to join Memphis and be one of the next two teams in. My heart says that is possible, my head says it is not happening. I think the most likely scenario that benefits Boise State, is expanding the Mountain West. But will the conference have the guts to do it? Will the television partners renegotiate? There are a lot of variables to weigh here, but if the Mountain West can pluck a power program like Memphis, they have to do it.

How do you see things shaking out for Boise State and the Mountain West? Leave your thoughts in the comments below?