Handing MWC Keys To Boise

Before member schools in the Mountain West get too excited by Boise State’s reneging on their commitment to the Big East in favor of remaining in the MWC, know that the conference is out of the gate and plunging headlong down a slippery slope.

In an effort to keep the Broncos, MWC commissioner Crag Thompson, presumably with the blessing of the school president, has agreed to make Boise State first among equals.

The Broncos will be a free agent of sorts, with their home football games exempt from the conference television package. They also have wrangled an agreement for the conference to help pay their exit fees from the Big East and Big West.

They also will be able to again wear their solid-blue uniforms on their blue field. Schools will receive different shares of conference revenue based on how often they play on TV, and bowl participants will get half the money with the rest of the conference dividing the remainder.

Oh, and all other school presidents must genuflect and kiss the sapphire ring of Boise State president Robert Kustra.

OK, that last one is still being negotiated. The problem is that this leads to the kind of revenue inequities that have crippled the Big 12. It is why Colorado, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Missouri fled the conference. That is not how the most-successful conferences work. The SEC, Big 10 and Pac 12 split revenues equally. Vanderbilt gets the same share as Alabama. The most-profitable sports league in the nation is the NFL. Jacksonville receives the same TV revenue as the Cowboys, regardless of how many times its games are shown. So now the MWC is allowing Boise State to become the Texas of the Big 12.

To make matters worse for UH, Commissioner Thompson already has said that any school that joins the MWC in the future also will have UH pay for their charter flights, ensuring that the Warriors will have second-class status in perpetuity.

While some are arguing that Boise State staying in the conference will turbocharge the image and revenue potential of the conference, it will mostly elevate Boise State. It doesn’t do much good if more money falls into the conference but you don’t get any of it.

It is a situation that bears close watching, but right now UH doesn’t have any reasonable options.

* This week the Rainbow Warriors basketball team will make its first foray on the road in the Big West. One plane trip and a few relatively painless bus rides will be much easier than the multiple flights and occasionally snowy journey of yesteryear.

Hopefully, this will pay off in better road performances, though it is already evident that UH will be playing a different brand of basketball than just about everybody in the conference. The Rainbow Warriors are the only team in the league whose strength is overwhelmingly on the inside. That will be an adjustment for UH, but also should cause problems for its opponents.

This week’s games against UC-Irvine and Long Beach State should be a fair barometer of where UH fits into the competitive mix of the conference, and hopefully point it toward the improvements that will help the team in the conference tournament come March.