Expanding the Expansion Update

As Andy mentioned this morning, San Diego State is lobbying the Big West on Boise State’s behalf as the Broncos search for a home for sports other than football. The conference is at least willing to listen, but it’s far from a done deal. Hopefully this effort gains some traction so the Big East can get past this hurdle and move into television negotiations without any lingering membership issues.

The way that Boise State and San Diego State are working together to get this issue straightened out makes me shake my head at how their stories are being described in the press. The headlines have been telling us that the Broncos and Aztecs are getting “cold feet” about joining the Big East, or that they’re having “second thoughts.” That isn’t even close to being true. They aren’t “reconsidering” the move; they’re worried that they might be forced to stay put against their wishes. The truth is that both schools want to go to the Big East almost to the point of desperation, and are working very hard to make sure that it happens. If Boise State and San Diego State end up staying in the Mountain West, it’s because they were stuck there, not because those schools thought it over and decided that the MWC was better for them. I don’t think it will come to that, though. You have to believe that Boise State will find some way to make the Big East work, although this point in the U-T article is interesting:

Eight of the league’s 10 members would have to approve the move, including new members Hawaii and SDSU. Hawaii already has an interest in voting against adding Boise because Hawaii is joining the Mountain West this year in football.

By voting against Boise State in the Big West, Hawaii would increase the likelihood that Boise State returns to the Mountain West, a move that would strengthen that league’s football value.

Potentially shady? The Big West has legitimate concerns such as travel and Boise State’s much larger athletic budget, but I don’t think that Hawaii of all teams could make that case with a straight face.

The other thing that bothers me about all this is how people are blowing AQ status way out of proportion. I’ve been telling you all that AQ status just isn’t important anymore, but if you don’t want to take my word for it, listen to SDSU’s athletic director instead:

SDSU Athletic Director Jim Sterk has reiterated that beliefthis week despite rumors that SDSU wants to hold a place in the Mountain West in case things don’t work out with the Big East. Sterk said there has been “no request from us” on that.

The postseason changes don’t matter to SDSU, either. Previously, the Big East was one of six leagues that had automatic annual access to lucrative BCS bowl games after the season – not including the Mountain West. Such an automatic designation will be gone for all leagues by 2014 – a development that was agreed to last month.

Sterk said SDSU knew such a change was possible before the Aztecs even signed a contract with the Big East last December. The Aztecs instead decided to make the move largely because of an expected dramatic increase in TV revenue from the Big East’s new TV contract.

I mean duh, right? If you don’t understand this much, then you just don’t understand conference expansion. I don’t know why we can see this when apparently nobody else can. Instead, we’re forced to read superficial analysis about how it’s such a blow to the Big East that they “lost” AQ status, and how that makes the conference less attractive to Boise State. That’s message board-caliber thinking. You want to have your mind blown? Losing AQ status makes the Big East MORE attractive to Boise State.

For some reason, writers are acting like only the Big East is losing AQ status. Everyone is losing it, and by “everyone” I don’t just mean the big six conferences. The non-AQ conferences are losing their path to automatic BCS qualification, too. Remember, the top-ranked non-AQ conference champion receives a BCS berth if it is ranked in the top 12, or in the top 16 but ahead of one of the AQ conference champs. Once that goes away, the only way that Boise State will be able to force themselves into the national picture is by playing better competition– competition they won’t get by staying in a conference that is quickly becoming the same as the WAC they tried for so long to escape. The Big East might not be the SEC, but it’s a far better alternative to the Re-WAC if the Broncos want to play a relatively high-profile schedule. It’s the only way they’ll get a shot at a major bowl game or playoff after 2014, which you wouldn’t be able to say if the current AQ structure was renewed. The proposed new system without AQs makes it more important for Boise State to join the Big East, not less.

The Big West might not be the answer for Boise State, but if the two sides are talking, that’s a start. It’s better than it was a month ago, anyway. Hopefully this deal gets done.

One thought on “Expanding the Expansion Update

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