Mountain climbing on hold for Boise
By Ferd Lewis
Boise State might want to have a box of Snickers nearby while it sits by the phone for that call from the Mountain West Conference.
It looks like the offer of membership the Broncos were awaiting this summer could take a while.
The good news: It is less likely that Boise State will be bolting the Western Athletic Conference and leaving the University of Hawai'i and friends in a lurch any time soon. The bad news: The WAC's football championship, aka the Bronco Invitational, is likely to remain a Boise State heirloom.
A release by the Bowl Championship Series late last week of the formula for automatic conference qualification makes it appear the MWC might have lost its urgency for expansion, in general, and for the Broncos, in particular.
Boise State's attractiveness to the MWC was predicated on the Broncos' ability to help the MWC secure a lucrative automatic qualifying spot in the BCS lineup by counting its Top 25 finishes. Neither the WAC nor MWC are among the six power conferences with automatic BCS qualifying, something that had prompted the MWC to look Boise State over and the Broncos to try to sell themselves to the MWC.
And with the likelihood that the MWC won't qualify under the announced standards, even with the addition of Boise State's resume, the Broncos become a less compelling prospect for the conference. Doubly so if its membership is going to hold tight to see what expansion from above might bring for MWC pillars Utah or Brigham Young.
A lot could still happen between now and Sept. 1, the date by which the Broncos would have to give the WAC notice of intention to move out to compete in the MWC in the 2011 school year, of course. An impending shakeup of the major college landscape in the Big Ten or Big 12, for example, could trigger the MWC's reactionary moves.
Barring that, however, Boise State's fawning pursuit of MWC membership isn't going anywhere for a while. If you are the Broncos, time is of the essence because they would have to play as part of the MWC lineup in 2011 for the league to take maximum benefit of the 2008 (11th), 2009 (fourth) and 2010 finishes.
The stated three-pronged criteria for BCS conference inclusion are: (1) highest ranked team in BCS standings; (2) final regular season-ending rankings of all conference members; (3) number of teams in the Top 25 of the final BCS standings.
The MWC can make a case based upon the first and third prongs but is dragged down on No. 2 by its under-performing bottom-huggers such as San Diego State, which has gone 6-18 over the last two seasons and New Mexico, which went 5-19.
So, get comfortable Broncos, you could be in the WAC for a while.