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 Post subject: MWC expansion article
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2003 2:09 pm 

Joined: Thu May 01, 2003 2:24 pm
Posts: 42
Wednesday, May 28, 2003

MWC's Agenda Has Real Depth

By Rick Wright
Of the Journal
When I heard the Mountain West Conference Board of Directors would be holding its 2003 meetings next week in Carlsbad, I was fascinated.
Was the league going underground? Are the MWC's school presidents, who form the Board of Directors, that much in the dark?
Of course, the joke was on me. The Mountain West is holding its meetings not in our Carlsbad, but in a San Diego suburb of the same name.
Yet, as a symbol for the Mountain West's future, the labyrinthine Carlsbad Caverns still serve.
In these uncertain times for college athletic conferences, it's hard to see past one's nose.
To expand or not to expand? Before there's a domino effect, that first domino — the Atlantic Coast Conference's much-discussed raid of the Big East — must fall.
To BCS or not to BCS? MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson and UNM athletic director Rudy Davalos both have expressed hope that the Bowl Championship Series folks will look favorably upon the Mountain West if the Big East indeed loses Miami, Syracuse and Boston College to the ACC. Whether that's realistic is anyone's guess.
Meanwhile, the MWC Board of Directors — in a sense — truly is in the dark. When the conference's presidents convene on Sunday in Carlsbad, name tags should be mandatory.
UNM's newly appointed president, Louis Caldera, won't officially assume his duties until Aug. 1. Colorado State's new head man, Larry Penley, takes over July 1. Brigham Young's Cecil Samuelson will have been on the job exactly one month when he arrives in California. Air Force currently has an interim superintendent.
Under those circumstances, wonders Thompson, "how could we make a decision on expansion right now?"
And yet ...
Davalos, who will attend the meetings in an advisory capacity, says the league's previously cool attitude toward expansion is warming.
The shift, he adds, has little if anything to do with what's going on Back East.
"When our ADs had a meeting with our football coaches earlier this spring in Arizona," Davalos says, "there was a feeling from the coaches that they'd prefer to have nine schools in the league so that every school would have four conference home games and four conference road games."
Nine's not such a good number for basketball because it means the league can't be evenly divided into travel partners. Yet, Davalos says, 16 conference games probably are better than 14 for strength-of-schedule purposes.
Well, OK. If the MWC were to expand to nine, who'd get the invitation?
Whenever "Mountain West" and "expansion" are uttered or written in the same sentence, rest assured "Hawaii" and "Fresno State" won't be far behind. Yet, Davalos says, he has heard Nevada, Boise State and even Texas Christian mentioned as well.
"There's been no formal conversation about any school at this point," he says. "But I think there are several schools, especially from the Western Athletic Conference, that would jump in a minute."
Still, expansion talk — serious or not — won't take up all the presidents' time in Carlsbad.
New NCAA President Myles Brand is scheduled to attend, in part to discuss his organization's academic-reform package.
In April, the Mountain West Joint Council (athletic directors, senior women's administrators, faculty representatives) met in Santa Fe. Topics discussed in those meetings — new television opportunities, NCAA Division I classification requirements, concerns about the quality of the MWC's basketball officiating — will be renewed in Carlsbad.
In depth, of course.
Rick Wright's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the Albuquerque Journal. E-mail him at

 Post subject: MWC expansion article
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2003 2:33 pm 

Joined: Thu May 01, 2003 2:24 pm
Posts: 42
Let the MWC expansion begin

By Larry Birleffi
Published in the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle

Joining a definite trend and moving quickly during the last month, the powers that be of the Mountain West Conference apparently are all set to announce the admission of two new teams.

No one agrees on who the two teams will be, but they are believed to be Hawaii and Boise State, both of the Western Athletic Conference. They have outstanding records since the WAC peeled into its own league in the late-’90s.

Boise State will be a new experience for most of the teams in MWC, but not for the University of Wyoming, which lost to the Idahoans last fall in football and beat them in basketball. UW has played Boise State on and off in many sports for years.

Boise State has an athletic budget comparable to anyone in the MWC, and its football program draws between 25,000 to 30,000 fans per home game.

The same has happened to Hawaii since the days of the old WAC. Some its teams over the past few years have been regarded as sound as any of its better ones.

No one is speaking on the record about expansion until the presidents of the current MWC schools give the green light.

I suppose the Hawaii admission will be short on jubilation with UW officials and fans who have made the long trip across the Pacific Ocean for years. This is a tough, long trip. The sightseeing is short-lived when you must be ready to play one of your better foes and turn around and come home the next day to get ready for another game in four or five days.

But Hawaii has been working to get back into the original bunch since the ill-conceived idea of the 16-team WAC was implemented several years ago.

It is believed that with the Atlantic Coast Conference asking Miami, Boston College and Syracuse to join its ranks that changes among other leagues will come soon.

The college bowl format is behind the power struggle. If the Big East Conferences loses Syracuse, Miami and Boston College, what will this do to its status in the Bowl Championship Series?

I am among those who don’t relish the mess the colleges seem to be getting into. But the dye is cast, and it is a battle for status and money with the probability that the rich will get richer and the poorer will be scrambling more than ever.

One advantage, or challenge, that comes to having two more teams in the MWC is it will probably allow a 12th game to be played in football. This is going on now, but it isn’t scheduled as a regular deal.

Adding two more teams probably indicates that the long-rumored defections of Brigham Young and Utah would be less significant, and that the teams left behind if those schools bolted would present a strong and solid conference.

Larry Birleffi is a veteran columnist for the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle. His columns run every Tuesday and Thursday.

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