With only a couple of weeks until the beginning of the college football season, you would think all of the focus would be on early season matchups and debates over which team will win their conference and compete for a spot in the playoff. But, the news of USC and UCLA departing for the Big Ten has thrown a wrench in things. With the Pac 12, and potentially the Big 12, looking to expand, some Mountain West schools are coming up as possible replacements. In this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly,” we are going to take a look at which schools could benefit from this round of realignment.
San Diego State
Nothing is ever a lock in college football, but from everything I have read, it seems like the Aztecs are the most likely candidate to join the PAC 12. They will likely be considered by the Big 12, as well. The Aztecs move into their shiny new stadium this fall and have found consistent success in football and basketball. The PAC 12 will be looking to keep their footprint in Southern California, and San Diego State is the only school on the market that really makes sense in that position.
I still think it is unlikely that the Bulldogs land in a Power Five conference, but they have done an excellent job of marketing themselves and possibly getting into the conversation. Until recently, Fresno State has never been mentioned as a realistic candidate. However, their location in the Central Valley may help. The Bulldogs have some facility issues, but money can solve those problems.
If you are looking at television ratings and on-field success, there is not one Group of Five school that makes more sense than Boise State. The Broncos have been a national darling for nearly two decades, and in terms of television ratings, no one in the conference comes close. However, geography and the fact that Boise State is still a fairly young university may leave them out of the conversation.
New stadium, huge market, great location. This makes UNLV seem like a lock, right? Not so much; the Rebels have not been competitive in football or basketball in quite some time. You also have the issues of sports betting and Sin City being too big of a temptation for college athletes. The Rebels are probably going to be on the outside looking in.
During the last round of Big 12 expansion, Colorado State was a name that consistently came up. The Rams have a brand new stadium and are fairly close to the Denver market. However, that talk has quieted down, and the lack of success on the field has hindered any momentum that the university may have had.
There really isn’t anyone else in the Mountain West that is a realistic candidate. Air Force may have an outside shot, but there are a number of factors that will likely prevent them from being considered. There is not another school in the conference that has the market or the brand to carry them to the next level.
That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Which Mountain West schools are the best candidates for realignment? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.