At this point in time, itâ€™s unclear what lays ahead for the Mountain West as a conference and consequently CSU.
The strength of the conference departed with Boise Stateâ€™s move to the Big East and Texas Christian to the Big 12. Along with them went money and more importantly, national recognition.
Small schools like CSU are now left with a big decision for their futuresâ€”where to go from here?
CSU hasnâ€™t shown anything of worth to receive an invite from one of the mega-conferences, leaving it two options.
The first option is to stick with the MW and hope the conference can survive on the leftovers of the old MW and the remnants of Conference-USA.
The second option is to jump ship and look for a better fit in other sports outside of football. Re-shift the focus from football and make the basketball team the centerpiece of the athletic program.
Football as of now should not be the No. 1 priority for CSU. Basketball has a great, young head coach in Tim Miles and a team with serious potential for national recognition.
The problem with option two is leaving traditional rivalries with Wyoming and Air Force, which chose to stay in the MW, and finding the right fit with a new conference.
College basketball is full of small conferences, but itâ€™s hard to argue that joining another small conference is better than sticking with the MW.
Going to the Missouri Valley Conference, for example, means leaving behind over 100 years of tradition surrounding the Border War. Long-standing rivalries are the glue of college athletics and CSU would be throwing it away.
A move will say to the fans that we no longer care about the history surrounding our program and the last thing the Rams can afford to do is alienate the fan base further.
Logistically, moving conferences means extended travel, which in turn means spending more money. The Ramsâ€™ revenue stream canâ€™t support long road games like Boise State and TCU, who will make up for costs with greater television income.
Youâ€™re also asking the fans to take up a larger financial burden in order to make the trips around a greater portion of the country. Thatâ€™s a tough sell given recent economic hardships.
Based on comments made by CSU President Tony Frank, it seems likely the Rams will stay in the MW.
â€œThere are a series of things that would benefit Colorado State University. That would be some stability that puts the focus back on our student-athletes and back on competitions and their success in the classroom,â€ Frank said. â€œI think stability around the revenue picture and scheduling and planning are beneficial.
â€œFrom my perspective, I am a big fan of long-standing rivalries. I attended two Big Ten universities, I love those sorts of things, and I hate to see those types of things being torn apart.â€
But only one option is the right choice for CSU.
CSU needs to stick to the MW. This is its chance to stand up and do the right thing. To place importance on the long held values of college sports that have been thrown to the wind.
Instead of taking the grass in greener approach, become resolute to make the MW into a respected conference in the college landscape.
Loyalty has become an endangered species in sports across the board and CSU can be a symbol for what is right about sports.
The Rams can and will be strong one day and this is their chance to do it the right way.
Sports Editor Cris Tiller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.