This was inevitable ever since the Catholic 7 broke off from the rest of the Big East and the league began it's death spasms. Today it became official from Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated – Boise State's departure from the Big East is nigh. Before they split ties, however, the Broncos must decide on what to do – wait for invite from the Big XII or Pac-12, rejoin the Mountain West, or re-create the Mountain West?
The former may never happen, at least not any time in the near future. Rejoining the Mountain West would be akin to rejoining the WAC as the league will be much different from the one they left.
My suggestion to Boise – form your own, all-sports conference.
Back in July I wrote about what could happen should one of the Big East's most influential members leave and how it would push the Big East to the brink of collapsing. I mentioned then that Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman tweeted that before they joined the Big East that Boise looked into the possibility of forming their own conference.
It looks like the time might be right now for Boise State to do just that. In the immortal words of Rage Against The Machine: “it has to start somewhere, it has to start sometime, what better place than here, what better time than now?”
The schools are already there for Boise to lay a foundation for a new conference as San Diego State, Houston, and S.M.U. will all be looking for a conference to call home. The only questions then are 1) how many teams? 10 or 12?, 2) is BYU interested in joining?, and 3) who to invite?
According to Dennis Dodds of CBS, the Big East has already reached out to Fresno State and UNLV, while informal talks between the conference and BYU have occurred. Consider these attempts the last gasps of a dying man. However, what that shows is that those three schools are willing to listen to offers. What's even better is that those three schools are needed, especially BYU, in helping round out the conference.
Fresno's television market, UNLV's basketball program, and BYU's national brand would help legitimize a new conference while also helping sell the product to the networks.
Having a well-rounded conference with successful football and basketball to sell would only increase the attractiveness of a new conference. That being said, Mountain West teams like Nevada, New Mexico, and Air Force all would likely listen, especially if UNLV and Fresno State were to bolt, and would round out nicely an all-sports conference if 10 ten teams is deemed ideal.
There's always the attraction of having enough teams in the conference to offer a conference championship game to potential network suitors and in that case Tulsa and UTEP would fit geographically, offering natural rivals with New Mexico, Houston, and S.M.U., while adding a successful football program in the Golden Hurricanes and a competent basketball program in the Miners.
Looking at the winning percentages and the distance between the potential make-up of this new conference shows that this could, and very well would, work. It would be like the new Mountain West, the one BYU and the current MWC members founded in 1999. Another interesting caveat would be that 9 out of 12 teams in this proposed conference would have at least some familiarity with one another as they were part of the 16 team WAC from 1996-1999.
In the end, though, it's anyone's guess as to what Boise State does especially in this crazy world of conference realignment.