The NCAAâ€™s game of conference Jenga continued Tuesday when Brigham Young University announced it would leave the Mountain West Conference in June 2011. The Cougars will become an independent in football while joining the West Coast Conference in all other sports.
CSUâ€™s coaches were split in their reactions to the shift, lamenting the loss of the traditional power in BYU but welcoming the challenge presented by schools still in the conference.
â€œI think itâ€™s kind of silly to be honest,â€ Colorado State football coach Steve Fairchild said. â€œItâ€™s sad when we lose some of the heritage and the rivalries that have existed for a while.â€
Fairchild said, however, that the 2012 addition of Fresno State and Nevada, two â€œdarn good football teams,â€ will help CSUâ€™s status as a football conference. Boise State will become a member in 2011.
The Cougars have gone 43-9 during the past four seasons, winning two conference titlesduring that span.
Overall, BYU has won four of the 10 MWC football championships since the leagueâ€™s inception in 1999.
The BYU menâ€™s basketball team, along with many other Olympic sports, will begin competition against the likes of Gonzaga, Saint Maryâ€™s and Pepperdine in the WCC.
Last season, BYU went 30-6 while pulling of a 13-3 conference record, in addition to reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
â€œItâ€™s disappointing because theyâ€™re a great team with great tradition and great athletic facilities,â€ CSU basketball coach Tim Miles said, â€œbut at the same time, I think we have a bright future in the Mountain West.
â€œI think itâ€™s up to the rest of the programs to elevate our games to make up for the loss of BYU, and I think we can do that,â€ he said.
When it comes to volleyball, CSU has won six MWC titles since 1999, while BYU and Utah â€” a university that will also leave the MWC at the end of the academic year â€” have won the other four, split evenly at two a-piece.
The BYU volleyball team has finished in the AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll five times in the last 10 years in addition to winning the inaugural MWC volleyball championship in 1999.
â€œWhat we need more than anything else is for every team in the Mountain West to be good,â€ CSU volleyball coach Tom Hilbert said Tuesday. â€œThat makes us better as a team whether weâ€™re winning the conference or not. â€œ
Sports reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.