Mountain West Conference Building to Take On ACC and Big East

Posted: October 7, 2010 by Gutti in BCS, Football, Gutti, NCAA
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We saw the first major college conference expansion back in 2004 when Miami (FL) and Virginia Tech joined the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), followed by Boston College in 2005. While this appeared to have become the new super conference of college football, it was far from it.

Miami (more affectionately known as “The U”) was dominant in the 1980’s as an independent and remained just as dominant when they joined the Big East (in the 1991-92 season) up through the early 2000’s. Miami was in the Big East Conference for 12 years and outright claimed and shared titles in 9 of those twelve years. However, when Miami joined the ACC in 2004, they never showed up. After losing to Ohio State in the National Title game, the Hurricanes turned into nothing but a breeze. Although Randy Shannon has brought the Hurricanes back to contention in the Atlantic Coast Conference, he now needs to complete the next step and bring back the swagger of “The U” to compete for the National Title.

Virginia Tech went on to become the dominant powerhouse of the conference; having to play in Blacksburg’s Hokie Stadium was never an easy task. Virginia Tech won the ACC Title in 2004, 2007 and 2008. Virginia Tech is still a dominant force in the ACC today, however, they still have yet to win a National Championship.

The Big East looked as if it was far past its prime, but they shocked everyone in the following years. West Virginia, Pittsburgh, South Florida, Rutgers, Connecticut, Cincinnati, and Louisville all stepped up to the plate! Capturing national attention, the Big East was back on top but only for a short time: Rich Rodriguez and Pat White left West Virginia; Skip Holtz was hired as the new head coach to rebuild the broken system at South Florida; Bobby Petrino left Louisville for the NFL in 2007 only come back and coach Arkansas in 2008; and just recently, Brian Kelly left Cincinnati to coach the stoic, praised, program at Notre Dame. All eight schools are now battling with inconsistency versus being in the talks for a National Championship.

With a lack of competition found in these 2 automatic qualifying conferences (e.g. Big East has no schools in the Top 25; ACC has 2 schools in the Top 25 but neither in the top 10) coupled with the increase of competition in smaller non-qualifying conferences, the question now asked is, “Who deserves to play in BCS Bowl games at season’s end?” The Mountain West Conference (MWC) and the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) have been the loudest of voices to chant, “Let us in!” But with next year’s massive conference realignment, the goals of one of these conferences may ultimately diminish and fade into wishful thoughts.

The BIGTEN is now the new BIGTWELVE; the BIG XII is now the new BIG X; and the PAC-10 will become the PAC-12 when Colorado and Utah become members next season. In the process of all of this chaos, the MWC, while they lost Utah and BYU, they also acquired Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada–the WAC’s powerhouse teams. As a result, the WAC has lost all of its top talent. To replenish their ranks, they are now looking to acquire the membership of schools who play in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), formerly known as Division I-AA.

By 2012, we will have a very different looking Mountain West Conference. Air Force, TCU, UNLV, San Diego State, Wyoming, Colorado State and New Mexico are familiar faces that will be back; but the departures of Utah (to the PAC-12) and BYU (going Independent) have placed tremendous hurdles in the path of the MWC’s BCS opportunities. While the additions of Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada will help heal the wounds left by Utah and BYU, they will only do so as long as these new additions continue to produce. Being that TCU, Boise State and Nevada are currently ranked in the Top 25, it is very likely that the MWC will have 3 schools in the Top 25 next season as long as they continue to play like they have so far.

Ever since Boise State won the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma in 2007, more teams from non-automatic qualifying conferences (non-AQ schools) have shown that they are more than capable of defeating teams that play in the so-called BCS conferences (i.e. automatic qualifying conferences): Utah destroyed Alabama in the ’08-’09 Sugar Bowl; Boise State has beaten Oregon the previous two years; TCU beat Oregon State this 2010 season; and Nevada ran a marathon while trampling Cal this 2010 season as well. So it’s clear that we have asked these non-AQ conference schools to play the bigger, stronger, faster BCS conference teams; not only do they play them, they beat them!

Looking ahead, it’s safe to say that the MWC will have more contenders and will become a stronger conference starting in the 2011 season and for seasons to come; one that as of now will look better than the ACC and the Big East. While the MWC is putting itself in a good place to not only improve but also make a run at being considered an automatic qualifying BCS conference, it’s important to remember that when expansion happens in one conference, it is bound to happen in the others. You never know which school will move to which conference (if Louisiana Tech can become realigned to play in the WAC, anything is possible). The MWC now must play just as strong a defense as it did an offense to protect itself from losing any more teams to the already-growing BCS Conferences.

  1. Cross-posted from Twitter user, @Aaron_Torres

    Biggest difference btw Big East/MWC is that the BE cant retain their coaches. No conference could survive losses theyve had

  2. Timothy says:

    I was hoping this was a blog post by someone who actually followed college football. However, you’re gigantic flub in stating that the FCS used to be called Division II keeps me from taking any of this seriously. Division II is alive and well. The FCS used to be called Division I-AA.

  3. brouhahasports says:

    The Big East should lose the auto BCS bid and it should go to the MWC.
    Also, I think the Big East will undergo significant change. The basketball people and the football people will have a day of reckoning.

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