July 22, 2009
At the week's other media showcase in Henderson. Nev., Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said the MWC will continue to push for an automatic BCS bid for its champion, and will try to do it in a way that's agreeable to the other nine conferences, four bowl games and new television overlord ESPN. (As opposed to, say, direct Congressional intervention.) The most direct route to a seat at the table after being roundly rejected the last time around? Just win, baby:
Thompson vows the battle will continue. The crux, he explained, is to keep winning games. A performance-based system is what the conference is seeking.
And in that regard, Thompson said the MWC is deserving of automatic qualification.
Standard fare. But according to ESPN's Graham Watson, there was another, far more interesting card on the table -- a targeted expansion to 10 teams:
"[Thompson and MWC athletic directors] spent a lot of time talking in general about expansion specifically, not about particular institutions," Thompson said. "I think the conversation typically at a directors level has centered on maybe a 10th will help us. But the real issue is practical scheduling."
"You really take away any scheduling for BCS purposes, if you will," Thompson said. "Now, if conversely a team were to come in and really strengthen the BCS cause, that would be reason for focus. It's something that we've looked at."
Even hypothetically, there's only one plausible team in the Mountain West's geographical footprint that could possibly "strengthen the BCS cause" in time to make a dent before the next BCS contract is up for renogotiation: Boise State. With apologies to Tulsa and Fresno State, the addition of the winningest team of the decade to a league that's more than held its own against the big boys over the last four years is the only move the other BCS powers couldn't afford to ignore -- it would almost certainly move the Mountain West past the Big East on the field, immediately, and would keep the MWC in the Big East's ballpark in terms of attendance.
It's a win-win -- unless, of course, you're the WAC, which (increased parity notwithstanding) would never let its powerhouse and potential BCS meal ticket leave without a fight. It's one thing to stand up for all the little guys, but there is no room in this game for sacrifice.