Mountain West takes its last, best shot at a BCS promotion

Dr. Saturday

Can't blame the Mountain West for trying.

It's been promising its fanbase that it would fight for BCS equality and now, four years after Utah upset Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, which started the Mountain West's quest, the conference has decided to request BCS automatic qualifying status for the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

The only problem with that is that the teams that made the Mountain West the attractive conference it became have all packed their bags for leagues that already have automatic qualification.

During the four-year evaluation period from 2008-11, teams from the Mountain West — Utah, BYU, TCU and Boise State (which joined the conference this year) — went to four BCS bowl games and were a mainstay in the BCS standings. However, when Utah and BYU decided to leave the conference last year, they took their numbers, including a BCS bowl berth, with them. TCU is bolting for the Big 12 this summer and Boise State is headed to the Big East in 2013 (and taking San Diego State with it). Although TCU and Boise State's numbers will still count for the Mountain West's exemption, Boise State will only be around a year of the two the Mountain West is requesting leaving the conference with (as of right now) Wyoming, Air Force, Colorado State, UNLV, New Mexico, Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada as a potential BCS league in 2013. Only three of those teams had winning seasons this year and four won four or fewer games.

The Mountain West could still expand or combine leagues with Conference USA to become more attractive, but after the Big East picked apart both conferences, the "moneymaker" schools both conferences once possessed are a thing of the past.
Boise State and TCU have been the conference's show horses for the past three years. In 2009, TCU finished No. 4 in the BCS standings and Boise State No. 6 and they played in the Fiesta Bowl. In 2010, TCU finished third and Boise State finished 10th in the BCS standings and TCU beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. This year, Boise State finished seventh and TCU finished 18th in the BCS.

Thanks to those schools the Mountain West has the current credentials and the right to ask the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, which is made up of 12 members, one president or chancellor from each of the 11 FBS conferences and Notre Dame's president, to give the conference credit for its history even if its future might be a little shaky.

The Mountain West did manage to fulfill three of the tenets laid out by the BCS:

1. Finishing among the top five FBS conferences in Average Ranking of Highest-Ranked Team; and

2. Finishing among the top seven FBS conferences in Average Conference Ranking; and

3. Having its Top 25 Performance Ranking equal to or greater than 33.3 percent of the conference with the highest Top 25 Performance Ranking, the SEC.

It's also important to note that the current BCS bowl system is on shaky ground as coaches and school officials call for a plus-one model similar to the Final Four in the NCAA hoops tournament.

There is a precedent for an exemption: The Big East received one for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, though that may have had as much to do with keeping six automatic qualifying conferences as it did with taking a leap of faith on the Big East. It's unlikely the BCS' Presidential Oversight Committee will take a similar leap of faith again.

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Graham Watson is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow her @Yahoo_Graham

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