College football expansion is still a hot topic even though right now the big question is whether or not BYU is singing a Clash song in its head; “Should I stay or Should I go.” There is however a question that is on the horizon and will soon be a story that will gain some momentum in the coming months; it is the alliance between the Mountain West and Conference USA. Could this be the start of something bigger as C-USA and the MWC go into a closed room and hammer out a non-aggression pact. As the two little guys on the “commish” totem pole attempt to gain access to the BCS.
Nellie alluded to this in his post last week, and various outlets are reporting that a meeting between Craig Thompson and his C-USA counterpart had taken place. Among the items, that the two men who seemingly have nothing in common outside of bad hair and a desire to play golf in outhouse-like outposts like Laramie, Huntington, Hattiesburg and Ft. Collins, reportedly discussed was the idea of an alliance between the conferences. The two jock sports bosses of the two most recognizable mid major conferences in college football discussed how they could become more of a force on the college football landscape, how their conferences could become as regular on the BCS party guest list as Tostitos, and loud-jacketed clad middle-aged men. So what did they noodle you wonder? If you believe some reports they want to pitch the idea that the two conferences would have a championship game for the right to play in a BCS bowl game; with the hope that the BCS may look at this as a fair way for non-BCS schools to gain entry into the BCS, sounds great, however, both sides are denying this as vehemently as they are denying that a meeting about the state of their conferences had taken place.
Okay, let’s say they did discuss this and the BCS says okay but give us (BCS) some time to do some research to determine how much money WE would make (remember the BCS only makes moves that make dollars, not sense). The BCS then determines that this could be good for the BCS what exactly does this mean? How does the MWC fare in this arrangement? The MWC has supplied three participants in BCS bowls (Utah (2), TCU(1)), the WAC has supplied three (Boise St (2) and Hawaii(1)) and C-USA a round zero, so it seems the MWC loses in this arrangement, and the MWC lured Boise St to the MWC. However this may be as close to a conference championship game the MWC wants, as the conference has been very careful to only expand to 11 teams, therefore keeping it not eligible for a conference championship game, and the economic drain that it is for conferences not named the SEC. It is possible that this becomes an access point to the BCS without having a situation where a 12-0 Wyoming is knocked out of the BCS by an 8-4 Air Force, the hope is that a 12-0 TCU beats a 12-0 Central Florida. The BCS wins by striking one mid major program from the list of potentials that may take up a bid from an AQ conference program which may be attractive to them. It however seems like a losing proposition to me; last year was it not great with Boise St and TCU in the BCS although they had to play each other rather than each playing a Florida, Cincinnati or Iowa.
Then as I was listening to the talk radio voice speaking about this subject, my 8 year old son says after the talk jock explains the scenario, “hey dad isn’t that a playoff.” Shocked, I explained to him that it is not, but the further I tried to explain why it was not, the more I realized he was right; out of the mouth of babes; the little guy leading the big guy. The Mountain West Champion plays the C-USA Champion for the right to play in a bowl where they could “potentially” win a championship (reality is the BCS will not allow that winner to play in a game where they could be crowned champion of college football). The loser plays in a consolation bowl game. Sounds like a playoff or at least a tournament, albeit one involving mid major programs. Leave it to a Midmajor to propose something that may have been before its time. The WAC had a 16 team league in the nineties which failed, but provided the blueprint for bigger conferences to use when they eventually move to a sixteen team format.
Don’t think the PAC-10 was not looking at the WAC’s experience and looking at that model to determine the feasibility of a 16 team league. But that was the past; let us look to what this “cloak and dagger meeting” could mean. This becomes a reality, who is to say that we do not have the Big 10 east champion playing the Pac-10 south champion for the right to play in the Rose bowl, or the ACC Coastal champion playing the SEC west champion for the right to play in the Sugar bowl. Yes, I realize that it makes more sense for the PAC-10 north and Pac-10 South champions to square off but if it is a playoff format maybe these programs square off for seeding with the winners going to the bigger bowls, the losers going to lesser bowls.
The BCS will not give up its precious bowl system, I have come to this realization but hope for the day there is a playoff; but they (BCS) might be willing to tweak how programs get to these bowls. Yes, I know how teams get to bowls flies in the face of tradition; there were several Rose Bowl “Johnnycomelately” purists who believe that the Rose Bowl is the PAC-10 v Big-10 and were pounding their fists about tradition at the prospect of a Big-12 or SEC program playing in the Rose Bowl, but for the record the Rose Bowl has had among its participants; the Mare Island Marines, Washington and Jefferson, Alabama, and Duke (none of those sound like Big-10 or Pac-10 programs even after expansion). So tradition is only as relevant as your memory, and let’s be honest if the money were greater in NAU’s Walkup Skydome for the Rose bowl Game, the tournament of Roses parade would be in Pasadena and the parade route would be on I-10 to I-40 and into Flagstaff for a January 3rd game.
Bottom line is that maybe this alleged meeting between C-USA and the MWC could be the beginning of something bigger and further reaching. Maybe it is the beginning of some sort of tournament at the very least on a smaller scale. Let’s hope the little guy shows the big guys the way.