Tag:Fresno State
Posted on: December 12, 2011 7:43 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 12:12 am
  •  
 

What MWC has to do to become BCS league

The near-term BCS fortunes of the once-again fractured Mountain West is now in the hands of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee.

The league’s board of directors on Monday approved the filing for an exemption for BCS status in 2012 and 2013. The move was expected and if approved, would result in the Mountain West gaining automatic BCS qualification status on a temporary basis in those two years.

The rule creating the possibility a seventh automatic qualifier was adopted in 2004, the year access was expanded to non-automatic qualifying conferences. Because it has achieved only a portion of the benchmarks for automatic qualification, the MWC is asking for an exemption.

Over the course of a four-year evaluation period that ended this season (2008-2011), the league finished in the top five of the 11 FBS leagues in average BCS ranking of its highest ranked team. The MWC finished in the top seven in average conference rank. It finished in the top 33 percent of average number of teams ranked in the final BCS standings.

For automatic qualification the MWC would have had to finish in the top six in the first two categories and top 50 percent in the third.

The exemption would have to be approved by nine of the 12 members of the oversight committee. That committee is made up of CEOs from the 11 current FBS conferences and Notre Dame. BCS executive director Bill Hancock would not speculate on which way the vote would go. He did add that the vote should come in the near future.

The league will rely heavily on the accomplishments of two schools leaving the league. Boise State is headed for the Big East in 2013 while TCU is going to the Big 12 next season. The league will be evaluated on based on the conference’s membership today. That means the MWC would get full credit for Boise’s accomplishments from 2008-2010 in the WAC. That includes a Fiesta Bowl win in 2010 as well as a 49-3 record the last four seasons.

TCU has competed in the MWC for the last four years going to two BCS bowls.

A seventh automatic qualifier for those two seasons would most likely mean the loss of an at-large berth that goes to one of the power conferences. For the fourth time in the last six years, there were eight automatic qualifiers for the 10 available spots. This season: The SEC finishing 1-2 in the BCS means both LSU and Alabama were automatic. Stanford was automatic because it didn’t win its conference but finished in the top four. The at-large teams were Michigan (Sugar) and Virginia Tech (Sugar).

There was an automatic qualifier from the non-AQ conferences each year from 2007-2010. Three of those were from the MWC – Utah in 2008 and TCU and 2009-2010.

There is additional hope for the MWC this time because of a waiver given to the Big East for automatic-qualifying status prior to the 2008 season. That waiver was approved by an 8-0 vote of the six power conferences (SEC, ACC, Big East, Big 12, Pac-10, Big Ten) and Notre Dame as well as one combined vote given to the five non-AQ leagues (MAC, WAC, Sun Belt, Conference USA, MWC). This time around all 11 FBS leagues plus Notre Dame have a vote for a total of 12.


Mountain West membership for 2012:



Air Force

Boise State

Colorado State

New Mexico

San Diego State

UNLV

Wyoming

Fresno State

Hawaii

Nevada













Posted on: January 25, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2011 3:33 pm
 

Latest conference alignment tremors

Conference USA raised some eyebrows earlier this month when it signed a new deal with Fox Sports Media Group for $7 million per year through 2015-16. That may be the reason why the Mountain West is reportedly targeting Utah State and San Jose State as expansion candidates. CUSA possibilities for the MWC -- SMU, Texas-El Paso and Houston -- are now more than happy in their current league with a new network deal. CUSA also has a new side deal with current partner CBS College Sports. The combined deals represent approximately a 47 percent increase in broadcast revenue. ($14 million, up from $9.5 million according to reports).

As always in conference realignment, it's better to track the networks before tracking the teams. The government's approval of the NBC/Comcast deal last week seems to have caused a mini-tremor in conference realignment.

The Mountain West met again Tuesday, in part, to discuss whether to add two more teams in order to make it more attractive to bidding networks. Comcast, a partner in the league's network, is thought to be a player in a deal that could be worth $15 million per year over an undisclosed period of years. ESPN also may be interested, which is significant because the conference at one time made a conscious decision to move away from the cable giant. A few years ago, the Mountain West presidents told commissioner Craig Thompson to move off of ESPN after tiring of having weeknight game times dictated to them.

The Mountain West's network  that resulted from that move away from ESPN hasn't turned a profit yet.  Comcast, a partner with CBS College Sports in the MWC, has an out clause in the deal if both Utah schools depart the league, according to a source. BYU is going independent. Utah is joining the Pac-12. The current network deal with CBS College and Comcast is worth $120 million over 10 years. The contract ends in 2016.

That's why the MWC may be looking to increase its value. In addition to the loss of BYU and Utah, TCU is bolting for the Big East in 2012. The addition of Hawaii, Fresno State, Nevada and Boise State has made the league look more like the old WAC than a new Mountain West. The expansion to a 12-team league, though, would mean the addition of a conference championship game.

The MWC board released a statement Tuesday intimating it will stay at 10 teams for the time being. The conference presidents are next scheduled to meet in June, although they could get together at the MWC Tournament in March.

It's interesting that one conference moved away from ESPN (Conference USA) while another (the MWC) may be moving toward it. Bottom line: There is plenty of money out there, even for the non-BCS leagues. Texas last week announced a $300 million, 20-year deal with ESPN for The Longhorn Network. The ACC doubled its money last year in signing a long-term deal with ESPN (12 years, $1.86 billion). That perhaps left money for Fox, a bidder for the ACC, to hook up with Conference USA.

Comcast is a national communications company headquartered in Philadelphia. For college sports purposes, it is a regional cable giant that also owns E! Entertainment Television, the Golf Channel and VERSUS. There has been speculation ever since Comcast struck the NBC Universal deal what that would mean for sports properties everywhere. For example, what will happen next with the Pac-12 and Big 12 are next in line waiting to cash in on new network deals? Consider this passage from a USA Today story regarding Comcast:  "The [NBC Universal] deal fulfills a longtime goal of Comcast CEO Brian Roberts to turn his family-controlled company into a global media colossus."

Both the Pac-12 and Big 12 will begin negotiating this year with a new-looking product. The Pac-12 added Utah and Colorado. The Big 12 slimmed down to 10 teams after the loss of Colorado and Nebraska. ESPN and Fox made financial promises to the Big 12 last spring that eventually allowed Texas to stay in and keep the league together.

The Big Ten and SEC remain the big dogs in the college television landscape. The SEC finalized a $3 billion, 15-year deal with ESPN and CBS in July 2009. The Big Ten Network continues to be a force after turning a profit slightly more than three years ago.


Meanwhile, losing the San Jose State and Utah State could effectively kill the WAC. The WAC already is trying to reorganize after the loss of Boise State, Nevada, Hawaii and Fresno State to the Mountain West.


Posted on: November 29, 2010 10:42 am
Edited on: November 29, 2010 12:38 pm
 

TCU joining the Big East

TCU will announce it is leaving the Mountain West to join the Big East today according to two sources within the Big East.

The announcement will be made at a 2 p.m. ET press conference at TCU.

The league had voted earlier this month to expand by two teams, ostensibly to make the weakened league for viable for BCS membership and more attractive to television. The eight-team Big East is the smallest in Division I-A.  TCU is among the smallest in enrollment but its athletic profile has been boosted by the football program under Gary Patterson.

The Horned Frogs all but clinched a Rose Bowl on Saturday and will become the first team from a non-automatic qualifier conference in to play in consecutive BCS bowls. TCU was defeated by Boise State in last season's Fiesta Bowl.

It is not clear if TCU will also join the Big East in basketball. TCU would be the 17th member of a basketball league that is already as unwieldy to some.

If TCU joins the Big East before the 2012 season its recent on-field success could count toward the Big East's BCS credentials. The BCS evaluates membership on a rotating four-year basis. The 2010 season marks the halfway point of the current four-year cycle. In the first two years of that cycle TCU has gone 24-1 with consecutive BCS bowls.

The Big East is one of the six BCS conferences with a berth for its champion into a BCS bowl. In December 2008, the Big East was granted a waiver to remain a BCS automatic qualifier after television partners made it clear they wanted access to the lucrative Northeast television markets. The Big East claims seven of the top 13 TV markets in its footprint, including New York.

This could be a crippling blow to western football. After the loss of Utah (to the Pac-10) and BYU (to independence), the Mountain West has been desperately chasing viability. In the last six months Boise State, Nevada and Fresno State have announced they will leave the WAC and join the Mountain West in the future. Meanwhile, the WAC has been scrambling, adding Texas State, Texas-San Antonio and Denver (basketball only).

Hawaii reportedly is considering leaving the WAC to join the Mountain West in football only.

The closest Big East schools to TCU are Cincinnati and Louisville. The Big East already stretches from Connecticut to Florida. The move west could open fertile recruiting grounds to Big East schools.

Posted on: November 19, 2010 9:57 am
Edited on: November 20, 2010 8:38 am
 

WAC tries to stay alive

The Western Athletic Conference will attempt to soldier on despite an apparent death blow Thursday night. Hawaii's reported defection to the Mountain West weakens the WAC but it doesn't kill it, according to WAC commissioner Karl Benson.

Hawaii apparently has a deal to leave the WAC after 32 years -- to play football in the Mountain West and all other sports in the Big West -- according to overnight reports. That would leave the WAC with only seven members in football and eight in basketball beginning in 2012. The WAC's Division I basketball membership would be affected first. Per the NCAA's "continuity-of-membership" clause each basketball conference needs a minimum of six Division I members who have been together at least six years. Beginning in 2012, the year Hawaii reportedly will leave for the Mountain West, the WAC will have only five such members.

However, Benson said pending NCAA legislation will allow the WAC to keep its automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

"We're anticipating the new NCAA legislation that is expected to be adopted in January that eliminates the continuity-of-membership issue," Benson said Friday morning.

Told of Benson's comments, one Division I-A official said, "I can't imagine that that [legislation] would get through."

The league's BCS membership (as a non-automatic qualifier) is unaffected at least through the current television contract that goes through the 2013 season (2014 bowls). The BCS does not require a minimum number of conference members, according to Benson.  Benson said the NCAA requires a minimum of eight conference members but that is only for NCAA governance purposes. The WAC could still compete in football with the seven members. The league would not be listed as Division I-A.

"It [number of members] doesn't matter for this contract," said one person familiar with the BCS process. "It remains to be seen what happens in the next contract."

However, the WAC is not done adding members, Benson said. Montana and Cal-Davis have been mentioned as possible WAC additions.

"Our plan today is to get back to eight football-playing members," Benson said. "That still will be our goal."

The WAC recently added emerging I-AA programs Texas State and Texas-San Antonio. Both begin WAC play in 2012 as I-A members. Denver was added in basketball only. The WAC had to make a move after losing Nevada, Fresno State and Boise State to the Mountain West in the last few months. Hawaii will move to the Mountain West in 2012 giving that conference 11 members.

Benson said his league was in the process of allowing Hawaii to compete in the WAC in football only and putting all its other sports in another conference. Instead, Hawaii went for the Mountain West deal. The MWC is chasing an automatic BCS bid -- at least temporarily in 2012 and 2013. That pursuit was hurt by the loss of Utah to the Pac-10 and BYU going independent.

This is the current membership of the WAC

Boise State
Nevada
Fresno State
Hawaii
Louisiana Tech
Utah State
Idaho
New Mexico State
San Jose State

This is what the WAC membership could look like in 2012 if Hawaii leaves

Denver (basketball only)
Texas State
Texas-San Antonio
San Jose State
Idaho
New Mexico State
Louisiana Tech
Utah State
 

Posted on: October 21, 2010 5:33 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 11:10 am
 

Halfway Son of Weekend Watch List

BCS bowl projections halfway through the season:

BCS championship: Oregon* vs. Alabama*
Rose: Boise* vs. Iowa*
Fiesta: Nebraska* vs. West Virginia*
Orange: Florida State* vs. Ohio State
Sugar: Auburn vs. Oklahoma

*-automatic qualifier

Notes: Oregon and Alabama win out to advance to the championship game. Alabama beats both LSU and Auburn assuring that there will be no undefeated teams in the SEC. It then beats the SEC East champion to advance. Despite one loss, it vaults over undefeated Boise, the TCU/Utah winner and perhaps even Oregon.  It doesn't matter for the Ducks who stay in the top two because undefeated Boise, Utah/TCU can't catch it in the BCS standings. Meanwhile, other current undefeateds Auburn, LSU, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Missouri also lose locking in Oregon. Alabama would be playing for the first back-to-back national championship since Nebraska in the 1990s. Oregon would be playing for its first.

--The Fiesta Bowl would gladly welcome Nebraska which it hasn't had since 2000. West Virginia would be making a second trip to the Valley of the Sun in four years.

--The Orange Bowl gets one of its more intriguing matchups as Florida State returns to the big time returning to a BCS bowl for the first time since 2005. Ohio State has to settle for an at-large berth after failing to win a sixth consecutive Big Ten title. The Buckeyes return to the Orange for the first time since 1977.

--The Sugar is filled with two at-large participants. Oklahoma returns to New Orleans for the first time since the 2004 (2003 season) national championship game loss to LSU.


Ranking the remaining MICs

11. Urban Meyer, Florida: Let's not forget that 20 years ago, Florida football didn't matter. Post-Zooker, Meyer made it a bigger national power than it was under Spurrier.

12. Joe Paterno, Penn State: No matter how his career ends, JoePa will leave the program in great shape.

13. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech: An example of having patience with a good coach. Beamer started out terribly but the administration allowed him stay. Now he's one of the best in the country.

14. Al Golden, Temple: The nation's hottest young coach has got it back to the point where the Big East should consider inviting back the Owls.

15. June Jones, SMU: The first and only coach to lead the Ponies to a bowl game since the death penalty. That's good enough for me.

16. Mike Riley, Oregon State: Beavers win eight or nine each year and are always a factor in the Pac-10 race. Don't forget the Civil War is in Corvallis this year.

17. Larry Blakeney, Troy: In the same category as Snyder and Paterno on a smaller scale. Would Troy even exist without Blakeney?

18. Pat Hill, Fresno: Never won a WAC title but kept the Bulldogs relevant to the point that they're jumping to the Mountain West.

19. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State: It's early but all the signs are good that FSU will soon be back on the national scene.

20. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU: Like Meyer, Bronco is allowed a down year.

21. Bo Pelini, Nebraska: If the NFL doesn't come calling, Nebraska will begin winning championships again under Bo.

22. Bret Bielema, Wisconsin: Saturday's win allowed BB to make this list. Ohio State was his second win over a ranked Big Ten team. Barry Alvarez' hand-picked guy is trending upward.

23. Greg Schiano, Rutgers: The momentum has slowed since 2006 but Rutgers is back among the living under Schiano to the point that the Big Ten is sniffing around.

24. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern: Operating with a low budget against Big Ten giants, the Wildcats are more than competitive with Fitz.

Oregon set the school season scoring record Thursday in the season's seventh game. The Ducks have 386 points and are averaging more than 55 points per game ... Strange how two Big Ten programs defined themselves by invoking Vince Lombardi this week. First Minnesota AD Joel Maturi said, "It's not like he would be replacing Vince Lombardi," of the new coach after firing Tim Brewster. Then Rich Rodriguez said this about his struggling defense: "Listen, Vince Lombardi could come too and [it's] not going to fix some of the problems we have on defense." ... Ohio State (at Minnesota) hasn't lost consecutive games since 2004 ... TCU has lost one fumble this season ... Texas A&M has lost 12 consecutive televised games dating back to 2008. The Aggies play at Kansas Saturday on Fox Sports Net ...

In this Week of the Head Shot in the NFL, it's interesting to note that Arkansas' Ryan Mallett was knocked out of Saturday's game with a concussion. He practiced Tuesday and will play Saturday against Mississippi ... The last six Auburn-LSU games have been decided by six points or less ... Mississippi State is ranked for the first time in nine years ... Until BYU kicked a field goal in Saturday's 31-3 loss, TCU had not allowed a point in almost three games -- 175 minutes, 10 seconds. A third straight complete shutout would have marked the first time in college football since Boston College in 1992.

 

Posted on: September 14, 2010 2:20 pm
 

WAC sues Fresno, Nevada and Mountain West

It's still not clear, though, where Boise State stands on this.

WAC commissioner Karl Benson said Tuesday that Boise is not a party to the lawsuit that is trying to force Fresno and Nevada to stay through the 2011 season. But since it will not officially join the Mountain West until July 1, is it not a defendant in the suit either. At least that's the way Benson sees it. That's called legal limbo, folks. It's also good for Boise unless you consider that some of their monies contributed to the WAC conference coffers (i.e. bowl money, dues, basketball tournament revenue, TV revenue) will be used to fund the legal challenge.

Obviously, the WAC needs until 2012 to attract other members to remain a viable conference. Benson said that by 2012, the WAC could have as many as 12 teams. It currently has six. In 2012, the NCAA is increasing the minimum number, from six to seven, of conference teams needed to retain an automatic berth in the NCAA basketball tournament, Benson said.

There isn't much doubt that the WAC can lure teams to replace Fresno and Nevada, but it needs time. There are scores of I-AA programs out there that would kill to join the WAC. But a current NCAA moratorium on I-AA teams jumping up to I-A expires in June. That means the soonest a current I-AA program could join the WAC as a full I-A member would be 2013.

If the WAC doesn't win this suit, it will be OK in terms of BCS and NCAA Tournament automatic qualifying status, Benson said. At least in the short term.

"We are not expecting that any of this will jeopardize any of our automatic qualifying status," Benson said.

He also said the WAC will remain part of the BCS through the current four-year deal that began this year. The BCS is compromised of all of Division I-A. The WAC does not have an automatic bid to a BCS bowl for its champion. That's part of the reason Boise is moving to the Mountain West next season.

Benson added that he doesn't believe that Fresno and Nevada have begun scheduling Mountain West contests for 2011.

Posted on: September 1, 2010 3:03 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2010 3:55 pm
 

Dissecting BYU's move to independence

Maybe it started in 1996. That year BYU went 13-1 in the regular season and was ranked fifth in both polls. In the old Bowl Alliance, there was no room for the Cougars even then in the four big bowls that would become the foundation of the BCS -- Sugar, Fiesta, Orange and Rose.

That year No. 7 Penn State, No. 20 Texas (both Fiesta) and No. 10 Virginia Tech (Sugar) all got into big-time bowls before BYU.

The Cougars settled for the Cotton bowl, beat Kansas State and became the first team in major-college history to win 14 games in a season. That year, BYU finished No. 5. Florida, 12-1, won Steve Spurrier's only national championship.

That perceived injustice would lead WAC commissioner Karl Benson to lobby Congress for his schools' inclusion in the major-bowl postseason. Out of that trip to Washington D.C. eventually evolved the BCS two years later.

Or maybe it was what happened in 1999. That's when the Mountain West formed with BYU as its lead dog.

It certainly had to hit home in the last four seasons when BYU won 11 games three times, 10 games in the other season. And went to the Las Vegas Bowl each time.

It was clear that the last non-BCS school to win a national championship had to try something revolutionary to win another one. That's why it made sense for BYU to go independent in football. Everything else, the shifting of most other sports to the West Coast Conference, is an afterthought.

This was about the long-term viability of BYU football. Why did it take this radical step? Because it could. It had leverage.  Utah has been good since 2004. Boise State has had one of the country's best records since 2000. TCU just played in it first BCS bowl.

BYU has been a national power for decades. It is a true football factory. Used to be Quarterback U. Lavell Edwards, Steve Young, Robbie Bosco, all that.  It did win that national championship in '84.

It finally became time to separate itself. ESPN bought in with an eight-year agreement to televise BYU's home games. BYU already has its own network (BYU TV). Now it has its matchmaker. ESPN executive Dave Brown is one of the sport's power brokers when it comes arranging made-for-TV matchups.  That will help a lot when it comes to scheduling games. If that sounds a lot like Notre Dame and NBC, you're right.

"We're going forward with an opportunity to extend our reach, not to play it safe," AD Tom Holmoe said.

 The final straw might have been the Mountain West  "attacking" BYU last week. In an effort to keep the school in the conference (and wreck the WAC), Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson invited Fresno State and Nevada.

Before that, Benson had devised a plan to lure BYU back into the WAC by luring San Diego State, UNLV and Texas El-Paso.

The only "winner" was BYU. Alone. It had a problem with the MWC's relative anonymity. The conference isn't fully affiliated with ESPN. MWC games are shown on Versus and CBS College Sports. The MWC's conference network, The mtn., hasn't turned a profit yet. That BYU signed off on this strategy years ago to keep from having to play mid-week games hardly matters.

The WAC wasn't an option because of questions about its long-term viability after Thompson's Fresno-Nevada raid. If we've learned anything from this Summer of Sleaze it's that the only accountability is to yourself. In addition to the ESPN agreement, BYU also announced a six-game series with Notre Dame.

 "We'll do all we can to assist them in scheduling," ND AD Jack Swarbrick said. :We look forward to playing them."

The way it played out, the MWC and WAC were assured of mutual "destruction." Things broke down when Utah bolted for the Pac-10. That seriously wounded the MWC's chances of getting a temporary automatic BCS bid in 2012 and 2013. BYU knew it.

When the WAC lost Boise State, it tried an end-run to get UNLV and San Diego State, in a bold attempt to lure back BYU. When Thompson got wind of that, he tried to collapse the WAC. Fresno State and Nevada came but the result was a net loss. The MWC lost Utah and BYU. It gained Boise, Nevada and Fresno. That's hardly an even trade in the BCS' eyes. A net loss in BYU's eyes.

So where are we?  The MWC is now closer to the WAC than it is the BCS.  The WAC's best program is Hawaii -- if the Warriors don't go independent -- maybe Louisiana Tech. The glory days of Boise may be in jeopardy playing a tougher MWC schedule in the future. Even with the addition of Boise and the retention of TCU, the MWC lost most of its traction for that BCS bid.

 Halfway through a four-year evaluation process for that bid, the MWC is not certain to meet evaluation threshholds needed for an automatic BCS bid. (1. Average ranking of highest-ranked team in a conference; 2. Average conference rank in BCS; 3. Number of teams in top 25 of final BCS).

It's as if the Cuban Missile Crisis actually became a confrontation between the U.S. and Russia. Both conferences are diminished.  There are no winners. The WAC will fill in with I-AA programs, probably from the West Coast if Hawaii stays in the league. The MWC's schedule strength goes down.

BYU determined that it could make more money and perhaps get easier access to the BCS controlling the schedule.  Spreading the Mormon faith via these stand-alone games had to be a factor too. Its BCS access point will suffer (automatic only if BYU finishes No. 1 or No. 2, "eligible" in top 14). But as I reported earlier, the BCS and BYU have at least had conversations. Don't be surprised if football gets some kind of relief on that issue. As it stands, BYU is in the same BCS boat with Army and Navy.

"Right now the BCS is not the reason we made this move," Holmoe said.


If nothing else, BYU football is going to be a lot richer and a lot more visible. That's not something the MWC and WAC can say.

Posted on: August 20, 2010 11:48 am
Edited on: August 20, 2010 5:01 pm
 

CUSA and MWC discuss BCS play-in and updated info

The commissioners of Conference USA and the Mountain West have had preliminary discussions regarding a BCS bowl play-in game between the two conferences' champions that would lead to an automatic BCS bowl berth, MWC commissioner Craig Thompson confirmed Friday after CBSSports.com's initial report.

Thompson and his Conference USA counterpart Britton Banowsky spoke Thursday in the midst of upheaval below the BCS conference level according to the source. There are few specifics at this point but the idea is to make both conferences more relevant and perhaps coax BYU into staying in the Mountain West. Thompson stressed the preliminary nature of the talks. Here is how the MWC couched things on its website.

"We had probably set this up about a month ago," Thompson said. "We said, 'Let's just talk about what's going on if there are going to be all these superconferences ...' We did speak about, 'What if a group of 22-24 teams were to approach the BCS about an automatic bid vs. the nine, or eight or 10-mmeber Mountain West?' That was on the table. I'd like to label it a 'think session.' "

No information has been submitted to BCS officials from the two leagues. In fact, 2010 begins a new four-year cycle for the BCS. That would mean the soonest anything could be in place is at the end of the 2014 season.

"The conferences have agreed to this format for the next four years," BCS executive director Bill Hancock said.

Conference USA and the Mountain West were among those conferences.

"We talked [with CUSA] about marketing 24 instead of 12, 10, whatever," Thompson added. "The bottom line is this is the first of four years. We haven't played this year's BCS games. This is like kindergarten in formal education. We're just talking."


Nothing much has changed in terms of access in the new BCS agreement. The champions of the six BCS leagues get automatic BCS bowl berths (ACC, Pac-10, Big 12, SEC, Big Ten, Big East). The other four BCS bowl berths are filled by schools that reach at-large qualification standards. In the Mountain West, Utah (twice) and TCU have gained at-large berths in recent years. Conference USA has not had a BCS bowl team.

CUSA and the MWC are among the conferences that are halfway through a four-year evaluation process to determine a possible temporary BCS automatic-qualifying status in 2012 and 2013. The Mountain West was close to achieving that status until it lost Utah in the offseason and invited Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada into the league.
 
The subject of a BCS bowl play-in game among non-BCS leagues has been discussed informally in the past. Conference USA and the MWC would probably have to get approval from the other nine Division I-A conferences. One potential roadblock: The three other non-BCS leagues (MAC, WAC, Sun Belt) probably would have an issue with those two conferences playing for a BCS bowl instead of them. The WAC probably isn't on the best terms with the MWC right now. The WAC has placed teams in BCS bowls three times (winning twice) since 2007.

This would not be a merger between Conference USA and the MWC, but a play-in game to advance to the BCS after both leagues decided their conference champions. Conference USA already stages a conference championship game. The Mountain West is in a state of flux as BYU decides if it wants to leave the league and play as an independent in football. Fresno State and Nevada accepted invitations to join the MWC this week, supposedly beginning in 2012. Since it's not certain how many members the MWC will have going forward, it's not certain if it will attempt to stage a conference championship game of its own.

A play-in game could mean at least one of the leagues would be playing 15 games in a season, counting a conference title game, BCS play-in game and bowl game.

The MWC is still waiting on BYU's decision. As of Friday afternoon, the Mormon flagship was supposedly still deciding whether to go independent in football. BYU had, or has, a standing agreement to play four-to-six games against WAC teams and put its non-football sports in the conference.


Thompson addressed the status of his conference's automatic BCS qualification in 2012 and 2013. If the MWC (and other non-BCS leagues) achieve a level of three mathematical benchmarks during a four-year evaluation period ending after the 2011 season they would earn a temporary automatic access to a BCS bowl. If they achieve two of the three benchmarks -- which is where the MWC is right now -- their admission would be subject to a waiver granted by the BCS. That waiver process has not been defined by the BCS.

In the past, the Big East has retained automatic BCS status by waiver.

"The numbers aren't that frigging difficult to figure out," Thompson said. "No, we are no qualified. We have not qualified. We've got two years left to go."


As of early June, the MWC's BCS prospects looked excellent. Boise State had joined the league, adding its numbers to the mix. Then Utah bolted for the Pac-10. When Fresno and Nevada joined that possibly diluting the numbers.

Thompson would not be specific on the status of The Mtn. contract with league. A source told CBSSports.com this week that the absence of Utah and/or BYU could allow conference's network to walk away from the MWC partnership. Thompson said only that there is language in the contract regarding membership. The Mtn. is owned by Comcast and CBS College Sports.



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com