BYU reached an agreement to play in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl or the Hawaii Bowl in 2015 and 2019 seasons. Each bowl will only be played in once by the Cougars, so whichever bowl BYU is chosen for in 2015 it locks the other in for 2019. Sometimes it feels like BYU never really left the conference, right?
The biggest question surrounding this announcement is which conference will be left out in the cold? That is where there is good news and bad news. The bad news: The Mountain West looks to be on the outside looking in.
Were the Las Vegas Bowl to choose BYU, it would be vacating its Mountain West pick. So Utah vs. BYU in 2015 is, technically, possible.— Matthew Piper (@matthew_piper) April 30, 2015
Piper goes on to say he got that information form the executive director of the Las Vegas Bowl. It looks like the Mountain West is losing its biggest bowl tie-in. That is where the good news comes in. This was planned for. Here is an excerpt of an Idaho Statesman article from way back on October 17th, 2013:
The Mountain West will play in the Armed Forces Bowl twice in the six-year cycle (2014-2019). It will play in the Las Vegas five times and Hawaii five times. ... In two years during the cycle, the MW will rotate a team into the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl to take on a Big Ten opponent - opening up the Las Vegas Bowl one year and the Hawai‘i Bowl in another.
It is clear that room was made for BYU to participate in these bowls over a year and a half ago. This planning allows for the Mountain West to keep its only bowl match-up against against a Power 5 team (not including a NY6 bid). The Armed Forces Bowl has a payout of $1.2 million (as of the 2011-12 bowl season). That is considerably less than the $2.2 million for the Las Vegas Bowl, but is actually slightly more than the Hawaii Bowl.
The Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl is played in TCU's stadium in Fort Worth, Texas and If last years Huston vs Pitt shootout was any indication the MW will be in for some good entertainment. The Big Ten provides a still compelling post season match-up to look forward to, despite BYU's best efforts to be a one team division in the Mountain West.
There is also the proposed Arizona Bowl which could start as early as the 2015 season if approved, and that would include a Mountain West team.
The Mountain West is also the primary backup for the Cactus Bowl in Tempe, Arizona, and would replace a Big 12 or Pac-12 fails if the league can not fill its spot, the Cactus would get the second selection of MW teams.