Over the past few years, the Mountain West Conference has tried just about everything to give the conference the respect that it deserves. It has submitted the idea of a playoff system, and when that didn’t work, it applied to become a BCS “power-conference” to receive an automatic bid into a BCS bowl. However, there is one thing that the conference hasn’t tried that would instantly give them credibility, get Boise State to join.
It is my opinion that the Mountain West deserves to be a power-conference to begin with. Over the past few years, the overall strength has been equal to, or even better than, that of the ACC, Big East, Pac 10, and possibly the Big Ten. Utah and TCU are starting to become elite programs, and BYU is always in the top 25. Air Force is beginning to turn some heads, and throttled a highly thought of Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl. Add a decent Wyoming team that won its bowl game as well, and you have a conference with five teams that shouldn’t be taken lightly. This season was the perfect example of its talent. The Mountain West went 4-1 in its bowl games, with its only loss being TCU’s Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State.
If the Mountain West can recruit Boise State, the conference becomes the third best in the nation behind the Big 12 and SEC. In fact, if you group Boise State with the conference, you have two top 10 teams, and four top 20. Having the Broncos would give the Mountain West the opportunity to show that the teams in their conference can compete with everyone.
From Boise State’s side, the merge is even more beneficial. Think about this, the Broncos have finished the regular season undefeated three out of the last four years and the results have been only two BCS bowls (both won) and a bid to the Poinsettia Bowl…zero national championship opportunities.
After winning another BCS bowl this January, many analysts predict that this next season will be the programs best opportunity to contend for a title because they have big out-of-conference games against Virginia Tech at a neutral site, and home against Oregon State. Can you imagine having a program that knows that they are good enough to be a champion year after year with no way to prove it before now? That has been Boise State over the past five years. What happens if they lose to Virginia Tech? The teams one shot for a long time is gone.
Even if they do run the table, there is no guarantee a spot in the championship game because those two big tests are so early in the season. After winning those games, they go back to slaughtering mediocre WAC teams, and getting no additional respect. However, if you were to face those two teams and then play TCU, Utah, and BYU every year, the strength of schedule is more than enough for an undefeated to be a legit title contender.
The BCS’ argument against giving another automatic bid will be the question of from where does the bid come. My suggestion is to take the promised bid for a non BCS Conference away. Why? Because that bid is almost always given to one of the teams that would be in the new MWC anyways. Since the bid for non-BCS conferences was promised in 2005, it has been given to Utah twice, Boise State once, TCU once, and Hawaii once. In addition, Boise State was given an at-large bid this year. Hawaii is the only team that would be given the shaft in my hypothetical scenario, and they proved that they had no business against power teams anyways.
If a team really deserves a BCS bid that isn’t included in the seven conferences that I would give an automatic bid, an at-large bid can be given to them. As I said before, Boise State got one this year.
I am slowly starting to realize that a playoff or plus-1 system will never happen because the BCS is so corrupt, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to change it in other ways. The little guys are catching up with the giant programs and that parody needs to be reflected in the ranking system. By giving an automatic bid to the Mountain West, you validate every team in the conference and give them the chance of being a national champion. If Boise State joins, there is no way that the BCS can say “no” and a group of ten more schools can dream big. It wouldn’t be huge progress, but it would show that college football is at least trying.