Big East fans caught up in yesterday's hype about the new playoff system -- which debuts three seasons from now -- may have missed another newsworthy decision: the Mountain West Conference (MWC) was denied a chance at Automatic Qualifying (AQ) status for the final two seasons of the BCS system.
According to the Idaho Statesmen:
The BCS presidential oversight committee on Tuesday rejected the league’s request for a waiver from qualification standards that would have given the Mountain West a guaranteed spot in the big-money bowl series in 2012 and 2013, the last two years before the system is scrapped in favor of a four-team playoff. The Mountain West failed to meet the criteria for an automatic berth during the last four-year cycle, but performed well enough to apply for an exemption.
The decision bodes very well for the Big East Conference, which still enjoys AQ status. It likely will weigh heavily into Boise State Broncos' decision to switch from the MWC to the Big East. Had there been a chance to earn BCS bowl eligibility remaining in the MWC, Boise may have been inclined to do so. With the waiver rejection, the Broncos will have an opportunity to earn a BCS bowl berth automatically by winning the Big East Conference championship in 2013.
The time is nearing (June 30) for Boise State to formally advise the MWC of its plans for the 2013 football season. If the football program leaves, the MWC has made it clear that Boise's remaining sports programs are unwelcome. In a preliminary move, planning for the move to the Big East Conference, the Broncos (re)allied themselves with the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) for its Olympic (non-football) sports. The WAC recently has experienced several defections among its member programs however, making it a less-desirable option than originally expected by Boise.
The Broncos, with the help and encouragement of San Diego St. University (SDSU) have applied to join the California-heavy Big West Conference as a more appealing alternative, but the league has not move swiftly to grant admission.
Regardless of the destination for its other sports programs, Boise has an expensive decision to make by the end of the week.
Again from the Idaho Statesman:
If Boise State gives one year’s notice to the Mountain West, it will forfeit its final year of league revenue (at least $2.5 million). If the Broncos don’t give one year’s notice, their penalty will be at least double. Boise State would owe the Big East $5 million if it does not join the conference in 2013.
In addition to these two items, the Big East Conference will enter into TV negotiations in September. Though it had an agreement in hand last year, conference leaders elected to delay in hopes of landing a more lucrative deal. Much has happened in the interim -- most notably the defection of three prominent teams: Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia -- which raises questions about how a contract will compare to least year's rejected option. Even if , as a result of reallignment, the Big East has suffered a decline in status and TV market value, the amount of its new contract easily should generate larger revenue for Boise State than the MWC will in the foreseeable future.
The confluence of all these factors is at a head. Even if the Big West agreement for non-football sports and the Big East TV contract are unfinished, it still seems likely that these factors will result in the Broncos bidding farewell to the MWC in the next few days.