This week's announcement that the Mountain West Conference will begin utilizing instant replay in football officiating got me thinking about how far this little conference has come. Started with the cream of the Western Athletic Conference crop in 1998, the MWC has always been treated like a redheaded stepbrother by the larger conferences.
The big six Bowl Championship Series conferences – the Big 12, Big Ten, Pacific 10, Atlantic Coast Conference, Southeastern Conference and the Big East – take their automatic BCS bid and the millions of dollars that come with it, while the MWC has to scramble and claw to get a place at the table.
That place was finally earned by the Utah Utes this last fall. When I look at how the MWC is growing, and when I look back on the history of the organizations represented, I start to think that our conference deserves a little more respect.
A little more respect than say, the Big East. When the BCS was created, the Big East still contained Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College. But those three teams have all left, leaving the Big East with not one legitimate football power.
I'll be the first to admit that the basketball teams in the Big East, which include Syracuse and Connecticut, are more than deserving of a place with all the best teams in the nation.
But in football? Pittsburgh is the reigning football champion of the Big East. Pittsburgh was hastily swept into the lower echelon of national ranking only when it became clear that it would have to represent the Big East in the BCS. Pittsburgh would play the undefeated Utah Utes in one of the four biggest games of the year and be defeated handily and easily by a far superior football team.
There is not one decent football school left in the Big East. Oh, the University of Louisville will come in soon, adding a team that at least deserved to be ranked this year. But the Big East no longer deserves its automatic bid. It should be the Big East's turn to scrap and claw its way into the big money games.
So which conference deserves that bid? Maybe the conference that saw the Big East's addition of Louisville and responded by adding upstart Texas Christian University, another school that has rattled the cage of the big conferences.
The football teams in the MWC are superior to those in the Big East. Period. And, since the teams in the Mountain West are better, the Mountain West deserves the chance to compete against the best, year in and year out.
We saw from Utah's amazing run this year how great a Mountain West champ can be. We saw from Wyoming's stunning upset of UCLA how electrifying a MWC team can be. We saw from years past how Brigham Young can win a national championship. We saw how CSU can be among the top 12 teams in the nation in victories over the last 11 years.
This conference is for real. It's time that the Mountain West receive the bid it so richly deserves.
Matt Hitt is a sophomore theatre major. His columns run on Mondays in the Collegian.