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Mountain West Armchair Commissioner: Zach

The latest in our series.

Editor’s note:

As you know, the summer can often be devoid of content, especially in May, June, and the first half of July until Media Days. For the past few years, we have tried to do a weekly summer series to mitigate some of that. In 2021, it was the Outside Look series, and last year we learned more about our team in the Why I Write Series. This year, I came up with an idea I’m calling Armchair Commissioner.

Basically, each writer is put in charge of the conference and gets to write about decisions they would make on a number of important topics that a commissioner would face running the Mountain West. I am basing this idea on a blog site I enjoy and something they do every offseason called the Sox Machine Offseason Plan Project.

Note: None of us are trying to replace new Mountain West commissioner Gloria Nevarez, nor should this exercise be seen as a critique of her in any way.

Instead, this is a practice to hear some thoughts on the big issues that the conference faces in the near or long-term future. Not only will you get to read thoughts from different staff writers each week, but all of you will have the opportunity to join in on the fun by contributing too in the fan post section of the site.

How to participate:

It’s pretty straightforward. Copy and paste the questions below and write your answers. A different writer will post one every Thursday from June through August, but readers can put them in the fan posts, and I’ll feature them on the main site as well.


What is your opening address about the state of the conference at media days?

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, I thank you for attending media days. Look, I know that college sports are evolving at an unprecedented rate. The Mountain West is one of the most stable conferences in the nation. We have and will continue to focus on being a conference that makes sense for our member institutions and their fan bases. We have heard the rumors about conference expansion and will be proactive, however, we are not going to make any rash decisions or put ourselves in a situation we might regret.

What are some innovative ways you would attempt to increase revenue for the conference?

Sponsorships are an important part of athletics. We have seen many professional leagues go to adding sponsors on jerseys. We won’t go that far, but we are going to focus on building sponsorships that will help our programs move into new markets, it is all about exposure. We are also going to work with our media partners to create more programming for our Olympic sports. Live sports are still very profitable and I think we have a lot of untapped potential.

What Olympic sports would you want to prioritize/build up?

All of our athletic programs are important. But let’s be honest, football and basketball are the only profitable sports at the collegiate level. We need to strike while the iron is hot and focus on our men’s basketball programs. We have one of the best basketball conferences in the country and none of these programs are getting the exposure that they deserve. We are going to focus on getting more basketball games on national television and hopefully get some tipoff times that people across the country will be able to watch.

Which two committees would you join and why (pick from the list below)?

  • Transformation committee
  • Committee on Academics
  • Student-Athlete Advisory Committee
  • Committee on Infractions
  • Oversight Committee
  • Strategic Vision and Planning Committee
  • Student Athlete Experience Committee

1-Strategic Vision and Planning Committee: I think the past commissioner was a little too set in his ways. The Mountain West needs to be more proactive and it starts with a plan. We will not settle until we reach our goals. The goal of this conference is to have programs that compete for national championships, that’s the bottom line.

2-Student Athlete Experience Committee: For better or worse, NIL has changed the landscape of college athletics. Many programs within our conference have been hit hard by the transfer portal. I want to focus on how we can help these students stay put and still put some money in their pockets. I think this committee has the potential to help out our member institutions as they tackle the wild world of NIL.

Protected Games for each football team: What games would you protect for every team when the new football schedule comes out for the 2026 season? (Current protected games for reference)

Air Force: Colorado State and Wyoming

Boise State: Fresno State and Nevada

Colorado State: Air Force and Wyoming

New Mexico: San Diego State and Colorado State

Utah State: Boise State and Colorado State

Wyoming: Colorado State and Air Force

Fresno State: Boise State and San Jose State

Hawaii: San Jose State and UNLV

Nevada: UNLV and Boise State

San Diego State: UNLV and Fresno State

San Jose State: Fresno State and Hawaii

UNLV: Nevada and New Mexico

Conference Realignment: Assuming the Mountain West will eventually need to expand, who are the top two teams you would choose as replacements? Share a few sentences on why, citing the level of competition, geographical factors, if they join as full members, and how they would factor into the revenue sharing (bad example: Alabama and Notre Dame will join in 2025).

UTSA: A booming program in a great market. The Mountain West should make getting into Texas a priority and UTSA could come in and compete immediately.

Memphis: I know this may not make a ton of sense geographically, but Memphis is a well-rounded sports school with recent success in both football and basketball. Memphis also has FedEx money, which could prove to be fruitful in future television negotiations.

Bowl Tie-Ins: What are some realistic bowl tie-ins you would attempt to negotiate for the conference (bad example: Sugar Bowl vs. SEC Champ)?

Instead of focusing on specific bowls, I think we need to focus on getting as many games as we can against quality opponents. We would love all of our teams to get games against Power Five programs, but I know that isn’t realistic. We are going to focus on 2-3 games against Power Five teams and another 2-3 games against AAC opponents. The days of multiple bowl games against MAC schools needs to end ASAP.

Media Deal: What would be your realistic plan for the next media rights deal? Consider dollar amount, total years, team distribution, specific networks, game tv slots, linear tv vs. streaming (bad example the MWC will get 1 billion dollars over 10 years and will get Saturday primetime on ESPN every Saturday)

We’ve entered a new world in regards to television negotiations and it is very likely that streaming could play an important role in our next round of negotiations. I am going to work together with Boise State and make sure that all of our programs get a fair share of the pie, while still honoring our deal with the Broncos. I would love for all of our games to be on ESPN, but we will do what’s best for the future of this conference and if that means working with Amazon or Apple we will do it. Our number one focus is going to be getting more money than we did in our previous television deal and I believe we can make that happen.

Three of the biggest issues appear to be conference realignment, bowl tie-ins, and money from a media deal. Which of the three would you make your number one priority? Why are you choosing that one and provide more detail to how you would address it?

Money from a media deal. If the money comes in, our member institutions are more likely to be pleased with their current conference membership. I’m going to address this by looking outside of the box. There are more options for airing live sports than ever before. We are going to utilize this to our advantage and create more revenue for our member institutions.

What’s another thing not listed here that the conference could do off the field to enhance its product on the field?

I’m not going to shy away from promoting our schools. I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure the schools that are competing at a high level are getting the recognition they deserve. If we have a football team competing for a playoff spot, I’m going to be their most vocal supporter. We will no longer be the quiet conference in the background.