With renewed talks that Boise State could be talking to the Mountain West about a return to the conference, speculation swirls that should the Broncos choose the MWC over the Big East, San Diego State is staying put, too. While athletic director Jim Sterk did not return the San Diego Union-Tribune's phone message, SDSU associate athletic director for media relations Mike May said in a text message that SDSU's "position has not changed" on moving to the Big East. May added possibly the strangest non-sequitur ever uttered on conference realignment.
"We are committed to the Big East/Big West."
Still, the Union-Tribune goes on to outline specific language in the Aztecs' Big East conference that would allow San Diego State to return to the Mountain West without penalty. According to the contract, if the Big East doesn't have a football-playing school west of the Rockies on July 1, 2013, the Aztecs are not obligated to make good on a move to the Big East. Currently, both San Diego State and Boise State are scheduled to join the league on July 1.
Speaking of Boise State, the school is reportedly playing the Big East and Mountain West against one another, trying to get one of the two conferences to allow the Broncos to retain their home television rights. Whichever conference can make good on that will be the conference that the school ends up in and also the conference that should immediately cease all football operations.
Such an arrangement is unprecedented for a conference member. No current member of Division I-A retains its home television rights. I get wanting to leverage the best deal out of Boise State's mid-major suitors, but this borders on the absurd and has the potential to backfire against the Broncos. I mean ... Boise.
"Boise reminds me of the teenage recruit who is starting to believe he's the biggest star in town," a source said. "It might be a pretty big letdown when all is said and done. Actually the sentiment of 'who do they think they are' is starting to seep into conversations with folks across college football.
"Let's remember this isn't Alabama, or even Texas Tech, we're talking about. This sorry episode is starting to make it seem like Boise is one of the power assets in college football. In reality their value is relative to the conference they belong to."
"It's pathetic it has come to this -- Boise State shopping itself to get the best deal. It's not like they're Alabama. These guys were a side show until 10 years ago."
With San Diego State fully committed to the Big East -- for now -- the Mountain West would need a 12th program should Boise State decide to remain in the Mountain West in 2013. The ESPN report cites Houston, SMU, Tulsa or UTEP as the most likely targets.
If I had to wager a guess, Boise State and San Diego State will pass up the promise of one final year of BCS AQ money and return to the Mountain West. The league can provide a stable, geographically sensible all-sports home for both schools. I know basketball doesn't drive the conference realignment bus, but the Mountain West is stronger than the Big West in almost every sport (and particularly hoops for San Diego State). I also don't think that UNLV, BYU or Fresno State will buy what the Big East is selling -- a hybrid Big East-Mountain West-Conference USA football-only conference that may earn marginally more money than the MWC but causes the added headache of finding another conference to park hoops and the Olympic sports.