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.
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?
Student-athletes continue to grow and evolve, not only through sports but through themselves. We will always continue to be a part of that growth in our athletes as we strive to become one of the top conferences in the country. Along with our continued growth financially and geographically, we will make this conference the best the west coast has seen for ourselves and our athletes.
What are some innovative ways you would attempt to increase revenue for the conference?
Whether it’s students or parents, fans want to connect with the players they watch. We’ve seen schools promote Fan Fests already, and while free events are great, there’s money to be made. We could take a route that professional teams have taken, making some events free and others a price. Allow free admission to these Fan Fests, but charge tickets like a carnival for events such as autographs, pictures with players or props on the field, etc. Bringing in games for fans and players to play together, along with rides such as bounce houses or water slides to use tickets towards. Opening the snack bar or providing other open food bars with a ticket as well can really engage the community with their schools, along with improving revenue that we can put back into our program.
What Olympic sports would you want to prioritize/build up?
With how successful golf has been in our program, I would absolutely prioritize it. This past golf season, the Mountain West sent three teams and four individuals to the NCAA Men’s Golf Regionals alone. Three teams and three individuals for the NCAA Women’s Golf Regionals were sent as well. With more funding and publicity, the Mountain West golf program can quickly become one of the nation’s best.
What 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
I would join the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the Committee on Academics.
It shouldn’t always be the higher-ups getting to make decisions. The voice of our student-athletes is very important to me. Any rules, regulations, or everyday living experiences should be discussed and have input from our student-athletes. They’d know better than anyone, and if there’s something working/not working, they should have an equal opinion and an opportunity to make those decisions.
While sports are what make us great, so is academia. We want to ensure our athletes are staying focused on their academics and are actively working towards another potential career. Sports aren't forever, and many athletes struggle when it comes to that, “what now” part of life after sports. Athletes who care about their academic success and their future beyond sports will only make our conference stronger.
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)
This thought has been made before, but rivalries absolutely need to be protected. Nevada and UNLV, Colorado State, and Wyoming. All these matchups bring much more energy (which leads to revenue) when these rivalry matchups are prioritized. The fans love it and the players love it, so there really is no loss in this situation.
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).
With the recent news of San Diego State potentially leaving the Mountain West, this is a perfect time to discuss possible expansion.
- North Dakota State
Yes, geographically it wouldn’t be great, but the Bison are FCS legends. Especially now with San Diego State potentially leaving, our football program would be set up for a major upgrade. The Bison have won nine of the past 12 FCS national championships. Mountain West Football would see a huge spike in competition, drawing in plenty of new revenue and excitement around the league.
2. Sacramento State
Geographically this would be perfect for the Mountain West. Playing out of the Big Sky, the Hornets would be a great addition. We’ve seen them achieve plenty of success against Mountain West teams, most notably this past season. The Hornets beat Colorado State and Utah State in blowout victories in 2022, so why not join? The NorCal connection would also definitely bring in more buzz among fanbases, allowing those who live in areas such as San Jose and Fresno to enjoy more games around them.
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)?
I would keep the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl, Barstool Arizona Bowl, and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. In terms of new bowl tie-ins, I would look at the Cure Bowl (Go5) in Orlando, Florida, the Guaranteed Rate Bowl (Big 10/12) in Phoenix, Arizona, and the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl (Go5) in Frisco, Texas.
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)
I would aim for around a seven-year deal, settling for around $385 million. Streaming services are the cool new toy these days, so I would love to see our games added to platforms such as Peacock. In terms of the deal with tv, the conference is more than strong enough to be a part of one solid company that the Mountain West community can rely on. CBS or FOX Sports would be great to commit to, leaving that balance of national attention without trying to squeeze into the bigger schools showing times. Going on a streaming platform is definitely the most important, however, providing that new target market with the on-the-go experience.
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?
Realignment is definitely the most important out of the three. It’s fair to say all three are connected, but I believe to boost media deals and bowl tie-ins, you need a strong realignment to make the Mountain West stand out. Adding a team such as North Dakota State will bring in more revenue for a media deal and more opportunities for bowl games. Creating a strong and powerful conference should absolutely come before the other issues, and it’s the most relevant one today as we prepare to lose a team from our conference.
What’s another thing not listed here that the conference could do off the field to enhance its product on the field?
As I said with Fan Fest, bringing the players and communities together is going to improve the off and on-field products. Players will go out with more grit when they have a community they are not only proud of but a community that has their backs through thick and thin. Remembering that these athletes are still students and backing up their academic careers as well is going to massively improve how the Mountain West showcases its programs.