LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 22: Fans of the Boise State Broncos react after a Broncos touchdown against the Arizona State Sun Devils was confirmed by instant replay during the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas at Sam Boyd Stadium December 22, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Boise State won 56-24. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
While the mediation report from the Big East and West Virginia did not produce a settlement today, it is increasingly apparent that some kind of settlement is imminent between the two sides. The first indication that a settlement is close is the news today from Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Horcutt that the Big 12 will publicly release its schedule tomorrow. It has long been speculated that the Big 12 would not make its schedule public until the Big East and West Virginia settled their competing lawsuits out of fear that a schedule featuring West Virginia would cause the Big East to include the Big 12 in its lawsuit.
The second indication that a settlement is close is today's report from CBS Brett McMurphy that it might still be possible for Boise State to leave the Mountain West Conference and play football in the Big East in 2012. It was reported yesterday that West Virginia was actively seeking a replacement member for the Big East in an effort to hopefully limit its damages that it will owe to the Big East. Getting Boise State for 2012 would likely be the only realistic way for the Big East to compensate on the field for the loss of its best football product in West Virginia. On the possibility, McMurphy writes:
Boise State has had discussions with the Western Athletic Conference to determine if its Olympic sports teams could join the WAC in 2012 in case the Broncos’ football program joins the Big East this fall, sources told CBSSports.com.
The Big East has been pushing them ‘quietly’ to join for 2012," a source said. "The WAC has had to rearrange lots of [its Olympic sports] schedules [in anticipation of the possible move]."
Boise State, along with San Diego State, Houston, SMU, UCF and Memphis, will join the Big East in 2013. However, the Big East desperately needs a replacement this fall for West Virginia, which is leaving for the Big 12. Because of West Virginia’s departure to the Big 12, the remaining seven Big East members would each need another game. The early addition of Boise State would fill that void.
Boise State president Bob Kustra recently said it’s "too late" for the Broncos’ football program to join the Big East this fall, but multiple college football industry sources are skeptical. Boise State's non-football or Olympic sports programs will compete in the WAC.
Boise State still hasn’t ruled out coming to the Big East early," a source said.
Two other sources told CBSSports.com they believe Boise State will play in the Big East in 2012.
Would the Big East negotiating a way to get Boise State in 2012 be rank hypocrisy since it is suing West Virginia for doing the same thing? The answer is no. The Mountain West doesn't have bylaws that Boise State helped craft that explicitly spell out a waiting period for it to abide by. The Big East would likely have to compensate the MWC in some fashion, but it won't be asking Boise State to break any agreed upon rules to get it for next season. If it were, then that would be hypocrisy.
If Boise State cannot make the move for 2012, it is unclear if any other school would be able to make the move and could leave the conference looking for additional games for its seven members, or force a home and home series for some members, as was suggested yesterday. How that would even work when there are seven teams remaining is also unclear. Considering the hole about to be left in the schedule by West Virginia's departure, sliding Boise State into the Big East in 2012 is the best case scenario for all parties involved. Here's hoping it gets worked out.
Stay tuned to Big East Coast Bias and our Big East Expansion section for more news on the subject.