My how things have changed in the last few hours. Somehow the incompetent Craig Thompson, commissioner of the MWC seems to have made it nearly impossible for BYU to leave without injury to it’s non-football sports by raiding the WAC of Nevada and Fresno State. This move changes things in a two important ways. First, if BYU leaves the MWC and uses the WAC for basketball and other sports, they are joining a conference that is significantly weakened, to the point that if one more team leaves it will cease to be a conference. The WAC will have to add FCS (Division IAA) schools or try to raid the MAC or Sunbelt or Conference USA to bolster it back to an acceptable size, but water-down it’s competitiveness even further. That leaves BYU’s other sports the big fish in the microscopic pond. True, Utah State’s basketball team helps, but the resultant RPI for BYU basketball drops to dangerous levels and threatens the success of their basketball program, as well as the quality of opponents that are available for the Cougars football schedule. It becomes much more of a risk to leave the conference because the partner that you were planning on leaning on has now lost a leg, and might not survive.
The second and perhaps more important thing that this does is it makes the MWC a much better football conference. With the addition of Boise, Fresno State, and Nevada, even with the loss of Utah, the MWC stands a much better chance of achieving the status of Automatic Qualifier for the BCS, which makes the MWC a much more attractive conference to stay in for BYU.
One thing that hasn’t been said here is the possibility that BYU just pulled a Texas. “Leaking” a story about them leaving the MWC and going independent, without the real intention of leaving, but plausible enough to get the MWC scrambling to do something drastic to keep the Cougars happy. If this results in the addition of Fresno State and Nevada to the new addition of Boise State that itself would have been worth it. If BYU can hold out long enough to shake a little more money out of the MWC or get the MWC to stop the equal distribution of bowl money to increase their bottom line, then all the better.