Mountain West Still Shifting

With the news that Maryland and Rutgers are leaving the ACC and Big East, respectively, to join the Big 10, a story was released by that said San Diego State, Boise State and BYU have made inquiries about returning to the Mountain West.

As of this writing, that story has been denied by the Aztecs’ athletic director and has not been confirmed by either of the other two.

But it does make sense.

The BCS has taken the automatic qualifier away from the Big East, and included them in a pool along with the Mountain West, MAC, Conference USA and the Sun Belt.

So for SDSU and Boise State, leaving for the Big East not only has no advantage in getting to a BCS bowl, but will increase travel expenses.

And BYU is traveling the lonely road of independence, and nobody is quite sure if the school views that as a long-term solution.

But let’s say the three schools come back to the MWC.

With new additions San Jose State and Utah State slated to join next year, that brings the conference total to 13.

Hawaii would be the lone football-only member, which is a little worrisome, although I’m told there is no precedent for a school to be jettisoned for the sake of convenience.

Yet many contractual obligations in college sports go un-honored. Coaches jump contracts all the time, and the exit fees that conference members agree to pay if they depart almost always are negotiated rather than paid. Maryland already is indicating that it believes it will not have to pay the ACC’s $50 million exit fee, although other members say they owe it.

For those reasons, it makes one nervous to be perceived as the potentially most dispensable member of the Mountain West.

Another, more palatable solution might involve expanding to 14. How about SMU, which also might be rethinking its planned move to the Big


There are a lot of reasons for the MWC to be optimistic about the future.

None of its membership for 2013 is considered a likely victim of poaching by a larger, better-funded conference, and there is no urgency to take back the prodigal sons, which means the MWC can drive a good bargain and a strong commitment.

But there might be some unease in the Big West, which has accepted SDSU and Boise State for membership in sports other than football for 2013.

One thing seems certain: Schools and conferences will act in their own interest regardless of their stated commitments or consequences to others.

That much we’ve already seen. * It won’t be long before the Diamond Head Classic begins and, for the first time, the tournament has drawn a better field than the EA Sports Maui Invitational.

While the Lahaina Civic has handled its event nicely, the facility has limitations and Maui is expensive.

The Diamond Head Classic benefits from the Stan Sherriff Center and more hotel options. The only drawback is the proximity to the start of conference play for teams returning to the Mainland.

Still, both tournaments should continue to flourish.