CFN Analysis on Boise State staying in M-West
Posted Dec 31, 2012

CFN's analysis on Boise State's decision to stay in the Mountain West.

By Matt Zemek
E-mail Matt Zemek

Let's realize this about Boise State's decision to step away from the Big East and pull a TCU (i.e., joining the Big East but then never playing a game in the conference): The Broncos could have had automatic passage/entry into the BCS for 2013 but felt it was better to retreat to the Mountain West. Boise State would have been able to test itself in 2013 against the Louisville Cardinals, in the kind of matchup that would have made college football fans drool, but the school evidently felt that the lack of a disparity in TV money (plus help in paying a $10 million exit fee to the Big East, which will likely come from the Mountain West…) did not justify the move to the Big East.

Being able to sell its home games while the Mountain West restructures its TV deal certainly helped Boise State arrive at this decision. That's a nice gain for the Broncos to make at the negotiating table, but by passing up BCS access and better conference matchups (at least for one year), school president Bob Kustra might not have played his cards right. Even if you acknowledge the many benefits of returning to the Mountain West, the chief one being that the Big East doesn't have much of a future, one can find a comparable number of negatives in Kustra's choice.

The biggest point of perplexity surrounding this decision from a Boise State standpoint is that contracts and agreements get broken all the time. With this being the case in college sports and the larger whole of modern American life, just exactly why could Boise State not stay in the Big East for 2013, get its one-year shot at automatic BCS access, and then reconsider its long-term options before college football's postseason restructuring takes effect in 2014? Can binding contracts and scheduling agreements REALLY hold water as legitimate reasons for this decision? I don't think so.

Let's go beyond Boise State for a bit: Obviously, one cannot overstate the extent to which the Big East is hurt by this move. San Diego State, SMU and Houston are certain to withdraw from the league at this point. It would be a monumental shocker if any of those schools remain in the conference. Navy is now likely to pull out of the Big East as well. The conference's ability to compete for a contract or host bowl slot in the "group of five" bowl-and-playoff plan established for 2014 is just about gone. The notion that the Big East could land BYU rarely held a lot of credence (some, but not a lot…); now, that idea is completely and permanently dead.

The Big East's power and status have been eroded over time. This story represents much more than mere erosion. It is an explosion, a big boom that will substantially reshape the world of realignment, creating one more carousel of movements in the very near future.