Mar 012004
 
Authors: Vince Blaser

The Mountain West Conference now has a seat at the Bowl

Championship Series negotiating table, but still lacks an automatic

birth into the Division I-A football postseason system.

Sunday’s announcement that the BCS will add a fifth bowl game to

its slate beginning in the 2006 season, pending market viability,

advances the Mountain West’s standing, said CSU athletic department

and MWC officials.

“It’s very exciting news,” CSU media relations director Gary

Ozzello said. “It offers us a greater opportunity to be a part of

the BCS; that’s all we ask for.”

While the ultimate goal of the Mountain West remains an

automatic birth in the BCS or any future NCAA playoff system,

Sunday’s announcement gives the Mountain West greater standing in

Division I-A football.

“(The MWC) would always like to have that automatic birth, but

it’s definitely a positive step for the Mountain West Conference,”

said Javan Hedlund, director of communications for the MWC.

The new agreement adds a fifth bowl game to the BCS, which

attempts to match up the top two teams in the nation against each

other. The new system will include conference champions from the

Big East, ACC, SEC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-10 and four at-large

teams. The two teams competing in the BCS title game will continue

to be chosen by a rankings system.

“From a Mountain West perspective, there were four areas of

concern and all were addressed,” said MWC commissioner Craig

Thompson, in a released statement. “Access will be significantly

increased, revenue will be more equitably distributed, branding and

marketing issues will be addressed and we will participate in the

future overall administration.”

CSU director of athletics Mark Driscoll said that he would have

preferred a play-in system, where every conference champion has a

chance to get into the BCS, to a system based on rankings.

“Our preference is a play-in system,” Driscoll said. “At least

there is a potential for more access.”

Driscoll said rumors that CSU will join a conference with an

automatic berth in the BCS are unfounded. He said the Rams are far

behind BCS conference teams in quality facilities, ticket sales and

overall budget.

“We are in the Mountain West and that’s where we’re going to

stay,” Driscoll said. “I think our fans, while well meaning, don’t

quite understand the disparity between us and them.”

He also said he believes the Mountain West can stack up well

against the new Big East, which has a BCS at-large birth.

Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College are leaving the Big East

and the conference will be adding Louisville, Cincinnati and South

Florida for football in 2005.

If the Mountain West outperforms the Big East over the next

couple seasons, Driscoll said the MWC should get at-large

consideration. However, he and Thompson know the conference will

have to prove it belongs with the elite conferences on the

field.

“It is now up to the Mountain West Conference to win football

games,” Thompson said.

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