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What will happen to Mountain West if power conferences break away

A lot of talk during media days featured conference commissioners from the power conferences talked about creating a new division or even breaking away from the NCAA.


The big talk during media days from the power conferences was about creating a new division or breaking away from the NCAA. Each commissioner from the Big Ten, ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC had a quote lock and loaded on the topic.

There are plenty of compelling reasons for why these bigger conferences would like to shed the likes of the Mountain West, MAC, Sun Belt, American and Conference USA. One of the issues is the full cost of attendance which these other leagues can not afford to pay out due to the extremely large disparity of television money between the haves and have-nots.

Also, the Ed O'Bannon case vs. the NCAA regarding EA Sports is another reason there could be a split among the current power conferences, because depending on the outcome it could change the entirety of the NCAA model.

If the schools from the power conferences plus Notre Dame breakaway to a division that would make 64 schools. A new division -- similar to FCS and FBS where everyone is still Division I -- within the NCAA seems more likely than a complete breakaway. Once the 2014 football season comes around those five leagues would have 64 teams, and that does not include Notre Dame who will for sure be included. Sixty-five is an odd number so why not add five more teams to get to 70 and that can still mean there are five leagues, but with 14 members in each conference.

Five more teams are needed and they would come from the non-power leagues to fill out the rest. The most logically place to look first would be from the Mountain West, AAC and current independent BYU.

Out of those leagues here are the likely candidates to get the call up:

• Boise State
• San Diego State
• Fresno State
• Nevada
• Air Force
• Cincinnati
• Connecticut
• Houston
• South Florida

Out of those teams BYU is going to get in due to their history and sizable following from the LDS religion then Boise State would be next and also Cincinnati. Those three seem like no brainers, well Cincinnati might not be but they are more than the others since they have had on the field success over the last few years.

There are a lot of determining factors left like market size to consider, and that is where Houston, South Florida and San Diego State could come into play for those final two spots. Out of those three San Diego State provides a truly new market that is not dominated by another major schools, so they would likely get in. The final spot probably would go to South Florida, even though Houston as well as Air Force could make for a compelling argument to be part of the upper crust of college football.

If the Mountain West loses both San Diego State and Boise State then they would be back down to the 10-team football league that nearly happened heading into this season. No title game and almost for sure no restructured television deal would have been struck with CBS Sports and the Mountain West.

All of this would be if the power schools want to have a NFL style set up with the same number of teams in each division. They may just break apart and add just Notre Dame and BYU to be at 66 teams, and be done with it.

If this is a new division just for football it would mean that the Mountain West would automatically become possibly the best league, along with the AAC and win a national title albeit on a lesser division scale.

Another thing that could be considered since this proposal is just for football-only is that there could be a relegation formula to reward teams from this new super league within the NCAA and what would be the other current five leagues. This was an off-season topic here at SB Nation last year and it went all the way down to the lower levels. Not suggesting going that deep since it would be a huge mess, but using a relegation formula between a new division within Division I could work since all of the schools are in Division I and thus compete in basketball for the NCAA tournament.

There would still be all the conferences that we have today for basketball, and the current five power leagues could keep their name for football-only. The only difference would be that say the Pac-12 would go to 14 teams with say San Diego State and Boise State, and some other restructuring to keep the five leagues all with 14 teams.

Using that SB Nation relegation model the lowest rated team would drop down from the super division to FBS or FBS to FCS; while the champion of the FCS or FBS league would move up. There would be no attendance mandates to keep since some smaller schools in the FCS ranks might be very good but are not cracking the 15,000 mark need to be at the FBS-level. This would allow teams to earn their spot at the big boy table and make real money and on the flip side teams like Duke, Colorado, Washington State or Kentucky could not earn the mountains of money that come from television revenue.

There would be some difficulties, at leas in the begin, with separating what each conferences television revenue would be for college basketball since those leagues would stay as they are; well outside the normal realignment that still could take place for basketball and non-revenue sports. Those numbers should not be too hard to come by and as for money to be distributed to the football conferences might actually be more difficult with the rotating teams in each league.

The idea of having three divisions within Division I and the chance to move up and get that extra money would make the end of the season football great from the bottom level teams to the title games that could earn a team a huge pay check. The idea of relegation probably will never happen, but it would be a fair way for actual tiers of college football to be made even as soon as three years of a movable tiered system in place.

While the Mountain West would be left behind as a second-tier league in football, the schools could make the jump to earn a big payday and an actual chance to earn a national title.

However if there is a breakaway from the current system, Southern Miss head coach Todd Monken has a way to through sour grapes on the whole thing via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

"I would propose to [the power conferences] this: If you want to split off, let's just do it that way, but you play each other, and you don't get to play us then," Monken said.

"Go ahead. See how you like that. See how you like the NFL rule and play each other every week. Coaches will be like 'Whoa, hold on, wait a second now.'"


"Go ahead and do your deal - you guys split all the pie - but don't go playing anyone else. You just play each other every week. Just have a nice NFL crossover where you play each other. Then when you fire up a nice 7-5, and you're at a pretty good place and they fire you, they won't be real excited about it, because you won't have those games that they've been able to win. Plain and simple.

"Some of those teams that get bowl eligible when they go 2-6 in their league and they go 6-6. Well, you'll be 2-10, or 3-9, and it won't feel so damn salty."

If the new super division were to play only like teams and not able to schedule guaranteed or paycheck games to get easy victories then that could cause these other power schools to proceed with real caution. It would however create some sense of equality within each division, but that probably won't happen since so many current FCS and heck even Mountain West teams schedule payday games to help balance their budgets for their other sports.

The relegation mode makes too much sense to create some true parity and competitive balance at all levels, but since it makes too much sense (well there would be a few things that need to be straightened out) relegation would never happen.

Meaning that if a break off needs more teams it would cost the Mountain West at least one team in Boise State, but likely two teams, and put the league into a lower tiered division.

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