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Mountain West Stays at 10, Passes on Utah St. & San Jose St.

Category: Featured News, Mountain West Expansion & Realignment

A few reports today are claiming that there is some truth to the week long Mountain West expansion rumors with Utah State and San Jose St. set to join the Mountain West as the 11th and 12th schools.

Utah State had made sense to many as an attempt by the MWC to recoup the Utah market they lost with the departure of Utah and BYU.

San Jose St. was rumored to be an option last week and it left many scratching their heads. The school has been a virtual non-factor in it’s revenue athletics as a member of the WAC. They have very little fan support and haven’t ever done much in the TV ratings.

But what SJSU provides is simply it’s location in a Comcast heavy region. By bringing in SJSU, the MWC

through Comcast and it’s TV network, The Mtn, will be made available to the large California cable subscriber base. The Mtn will likely be on a higher cable tier, easier to find and available to more Comcast subscribers.

In the past, we’ve always said that market isn’t the deciding factor in expansion: it was a schools penetration into said market. That seems to be changing if SJSU indeed does join the Mountain West.

As for the WAC, if this move materializes this week, the WAC will be down to just a handful of football schools. The 2012 membership would appear to be:

Idaho, New Mexico St., LA Tech, UTSA, and Texas St. Denver would be in for non-football sports. With few available FCS football programs ready to join, the WAC will likely extend invitations to schools such as Seattle and Utah Valley for non-football sports. CSUB is another option, as would Texas-Pan American or even Houston Baptist.

In the Mountain West, if this happens, Boise St. will likely get the divisions it wants:

Mountain: Boise St., Utah St., Wyoming, Colorado St., Air Force, New Mexico

West: Fresno St., SJSU, Nevada, UNLV, SDSU, Hawaii

Update: 1/25/10

Cooler heads prevailed. The MWC has opted to remain at 9/10 and not invite Utah St. and San Jose St.

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  • MWC has done all it can do. SJSU, Idaho and NMSU are not good enough. Utah State blow there golden chance by shooting themselves in the face, like Elmer Fudd in a Bugs Bunny short. Sorry Sports only…But what where they thinking? Boise St, our best team leaves us to go to the MWC, So what do we do when we get asked to join with them? We stay put because it’s not like their going to call Nevada and Fresno the next day.

    What was the MWC thinking also? Asking Utah St. to begin with? Maybe if we add Utah St…Then maybe BYU might just stay! Their lucky Utah St declined. The MWC will never be a AQ with schools like Utah St and SJSU. But that the 3 Kings(TCU, BYU, Utah) have left town, they won’t be an AQ anyways. The MWC is pretty much like a new WAC. But they got a good thing going on, and I wouldn’t add any Texas schools. Texas is too far away, except for UTEP. But I wouldn’t wan’t UTEP but that is just me.

    A part of me wants to see Montana come in and save the day for the WAC. I don’t know what their doing? I guess they like being a big fish in a medium pond. But an evil side of me also wants to see the WAC to fall apart, I like the Sun Belt better. Ok, I’ll shut up.

  • Michael in Indy

    I agree with you on UTEP, Matt. Regardless of how far UTEP is from the DFW and Houston schools, the school is best off in a conference with Texas schools. UTEP alumni largely live in the big cities of Texas’ eastern half, so a big portion of them actually can see live UTEP road games than home games. Moving to a league in the opposite direction would screw their own alumni over.

    Plus, the MWC has lost its three biggest assets overall, two of which (BYU and Utah) have historically been very strong b-ball programs, and even though Nevada was solid a few years ago, they’re not a solid replacement. Throw in C-USA’s better television exposure & revenue, and UTEP has no motive to move. The same could be said for Houston or SMU.

  • No, and no plans to thus far. 10 is easier for basketball, but 9 works fine with home and homes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the MWC has made a push for BYU to stay. Which is sad. Because at the beginning of the MWC changes this past summer, the MWC felt it was in a better position that they actually were. They just didn’t have the foresight to see all the changes. On day one when BYu said they were going indy in football and joining the WAC for other sports, the MWC should have been calmer, cooler. Because they could have just said, “look, it you are going to leave for indy football, we can’t stop you. But we will be inviting 2 WAC schools (UNR, CSUF) for all-sports. So why not stay with us for non-football sports”. Instead, the MWC played tough guy and forced BYUs hands. The MWC did raid the WAC, but that just sent BYU into the arms of the WCC. Again, if the MWC had the foresight, they could still have a BYU/Hawaii 10th member situation. Now, they don’t have any presence in Utah, which was their biggest base. Sad.

    As for UTEP. A loud No. Utep was not entirely interested in the MWC, which is why the MWC had to look at Utah St. and SJSU…which they passes on. Texas schools just arent’ sold on the MWC versus CUSA right now with BYU, Utah and TCU all gone. So UTEP as a non-football member is even less attractive than being invited for all-sports for them.

    The MWC is a step down for Gonzaga right now, especially with BYu joining. The WCC, with 9 members, will likely be a 3 bid conference most years and only 9 mouths to feed. And when schools like GU, StM and BYU advance, that’s another revenue share for the WCC. With BYU joining, the WCC overall revenue for basketball will likely be higher than the MWC, again, with 9 mouths to feed. Once BYu is gone, think the MWC is a 3 bid conference? SDSU and UNLV could sustain but no lock on a 3rd team.

  • BLT

    although I realize they would be a football member.

  • BLT

    “Any news on a possible non-football member to offset Hawaii? Gonzaga would be a huge get if they could get BYU non-football sports back.”

    How about…


  • Well, so much for that. The Mountain West has decided not to expand, for now. The WAC has been spared, for now.

  • Nathan, Denver is already out, leaving only UALR. UALR met the minimum sports sponsorship number, so they can’t exactly be kicked out. They can volunteer to leave though. They spoke with the Summit already. but you gotta figure the southland would make more sense. Regardless, UALR is in the Sunbelt as long as they want to be, it would appear.

  • The Sun Belt might boot the non-football schools if it expanded. The WAC would really want Denver to stay and Arkansas-Little Rock to join. The Southland might do the same, which would leave Texas-Arlington and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to get interest from the WAC. The schools mentioned previously will also get lots of interest. In any case, the WAC is likely to go the way of the Big West and lose football. Time will tell if it loses everything else as well.

  • Steven

    While LA Tech to the Sun Belt makes sense geographically for the university and the league, there is one sticking point. From Sun Belt affiliated people I’ve been told that the president and A.D. at LA Tech despise the Sun Belt commish, and will NOT join that league as long as he’s in charge.

    But if the WAC continues to fall apart, I guess anything is possible.

  • I think the WAC is already at that level based on the initial meeting with Seattle.

    The WAC is in trouble and there is little they can do. They CAN at least maintain some sanity, even if they lost USU and SJSU to the MWC and say LA Tech and another FB school to Sunbelt and even Denver to the Summit. They can bring in UTPA, HBU, Seattle and CSUB and at least it’s a CA to Idaho to Texas conference, like it is now. No need for Chicago St. or NJIT.

    But I wouldn’t think a MAC/SB game would effect the BCS/playoff system. Even with a playoff, I dont’ see those conferences being involved. Hard to justify a 5 overall loss SB team getting a spot over a 3 loss BCS conference school (sans Big East). We’re talking 6-5 Troy getting in over an 8-3 Florida school. If a playoff had 20 schools, it would be a different story…but that ain’t gonna happen.

  • Could be, Nathan.

    * Idaho
    * NMSU
    * UTSA
    * Texas St.
    * LA Tech

    But really, looking at that group, it leads one to think:

    1) If you’re LA Tech, there’s no reason to wait around for CUSA to call. There’s no more BCS/Boise St. money coming in. Might as well pack your bags and leave for the Sunbelt, where you are wanted.

    2) If you’re the Sunbelt, and you do bring in LA Tech, do you bring in a 12th football school (13th total)? Perhaps. And if so, do you go with the devil you know (NMSU) or take a chance with newbie UTSA and expand into Texas?

    3) Denver. Ouch, tough way things played out. I see no reason for Denver to remain in this group which is primarily the Great West and indys. It’s time to finally accept those feelers made by the Summit League, where you at least have some nearby schools like NDSU, SDSU, and USD.

    4) if this all happens, loss of USU and SJSU, loss of LA Tech & another football school, loss of Denver…what next?

    You’d have:
    * Idaho
    * NMSU
    * Texas St.

    So you can bet that NMSU and TSU hope the SB would goto 14 to save them.

    Idaho is left out. To remain in FBS, they can be another western indy like BYU. But they’ll have a lot more road games.

  • So Matt, do you see the WAC turning into a new version of the Great West, a home for the homeless until they can get a better deal? Also I think the WAC would offer Chicago St, Cal St Bakersfield, and Arkansas Little Rock too…

    If the SB doesn’t take LA Tech and NM St will they go football independent…I just see adding LA Tech and NM St as better options than most FCS teams and if the MWC/CUSA joint AQ bid goes through I could totally see a MAC/SB game popping up to hold off a playoff. Not to mention if they eliminate an entire conference from football (ie TV competitor) it would greatly benefit their TV and bowl deals.

    I have a feeling that Idaho will be talking to the Big Sky soon.

  • The Sun Belt would be in good position to stay alive if another conference were to get some of their teams. The WAC would have to convince Denver to stay and get six or seven other teams to join. Texas-Pan American, Houston Baptist, Utah Valley, Seattle, Cal-State Bakersfield, Chicago State, and even New Jersey Tech would be most intersted in forming a new conference with the new conference rules passed at the convention.

  • But I wouldn’t be shocked to see a mass invite with UTPA, HBU, Seattle and UVU happening soon after USU and SJSU leave…if they leave.

  • I’d sure like to see that as well, Trey. I’m not sure if it makes sense for the Sunbelt though. They are in a position of power over the WAC right now. So if the SB lost school(s) to CUSA or another conference, they’d have their feeder ground in the WAC.

    But in expanding with the 2 Texas schools, it would give them a bigger share in the state to compete with CUSA.

  • “The Sun Belt might be jumping up and down if this happens.”

    I would hope, with the MAC going to 14 by adding UMass, that the Sun Belt will also go to 14 by taking LA Tech, UTSA, Texas St, and New Mexico St, with a simple East/West division format.

    East- FIU, FAU, SoBama, Troy, MTSU, WKent, Ark St
    West- NM St, UTSA, TX St, N TX, LA Tech, ULM, ULL

  • Subtraction by Addition for the MWC. Are there people not attending San Jose State football games who are fans? All the Spartan fans already attend the games, I suspect.

    As to the Utah market well, Utah or BYU > Utah St. + Weber St. + Utah Valley + Southern Utah

    Any chance the WAC drops football as a champion sport?

  • They won’t get BYU or Gonzaga. They will probably go with 11 teams in basketball. What La Tech, New Mexico State, and Idaho do is anyone’s guess. La Tech is waiting for Conference USA to lose a member. Idaho and New Mexico State might go back to the Sun Belt if they are wanted there.

  • The Sun Belt might be jumping up and down if this happens.

  • Any news on a possible non-football member to offset Hawaii? Gonzaga would be a huge get if they could get BYU non-football sports back.


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