The Mountain West Conference as you know it is now gone.
Itâ€™s gone because the temptation to rake in more money was too great and the misguided hope that simply because a conference is super-sized, it will receive a Bowl Championship Series automatic qualifying bid.
The decision was made for the benefit of a select few schools (basically Boise State) and not in the interest of all the other smaller programs like CSU.
On Friday it came out that the Mountain West and Conference USA would merge conferences for football only to create a massive 22-team league split into two divisions. Letâ€™s call one the Mountain West and the other Conference USA, who will then play in a conference championship game at the end of the season.
Not surprisingly this announcement came right after rumors cropped up about the Big East extending invitations to MW schools Boise State and Air Force and to C-USA members Central Florida, Houston and Southern Methodist University.
The combination of the two conferences is clearly a move to persuade each conferenceâ€™s current members to stay put with the lure of the mega-conference automatic qualifying bid, which gives the winner of the conference a spot in one of the coveted BCS bowl games.
The way I see it, the MW is simply trying to keep Boise State, because last time I checked, usually only undefeated or one loss teams make BCS bowl games and Boise State is the only one doing that with the departures of Utah and TCU from the conference. MW commissioner Craig Thompson put no thought into what this does for a school like CSU.
CSU, at this point in time, is not contending for a conference title, so all the merger does is create a scheduling nightmare. Say CSU gets scheduled to play future MW member Hawaii and then follows that up with another road game at UCF nearly 5,000 miles away. It just doesnâ€™t make any sense. How will fans be able to travel?
Conferences used to be centered on regions that made traveling easy for fans and the players. They also created rich and storied rivalries, which I would say is the backbone of college football. Now with 22 teams spread from one corner of the country to the other and everything in between, scheduling your rival is harder than ever.
I donâ€™t think the Mountain West took input from coaches within the conference either.
CSU coach Steve Fairchild expressed his distaste for conference realignment during his weekly press conference last Monday.
â€œIâ€™ve said all along whatâ€™s happening in college football is bad for college football,â€ Fairchild said. â€œ I think everybodyâ€™s chasing TV revenue and not paying attention to fans, rivalries, or heritage. I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s good for the sport; Iâ€™ve said that all along.
â€œHaving been in the NFL I know everything they do to level the playing field makes that product better. Unfortunately, you donâ€™t have that train of thought in college football… I donâ€™t know if anybody knows what is good or bad.â€
Greed and self-preservation are more present than ever in college football and the gap between the haves and the have-nots is widening.
Iâ€™m beginning to agree with Fairchild, whatâ€™s happening in college football is bad for college football.
Sports Editor Cris Tiller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.