- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Boise State has yet to formally withdraw from the Mountain West. So what does all this mean for the football team and the Big East?
Here are a few points to consider, and some of the major complicating circumstances that may be delaying the process.
The No. 1 goal is still to join the Big East. Boise State has until Saturday to formally withdraw from the Mountain West, with a financial penalty of $2.5 million. Now, that does not mean Boise State cannot leave after that date. Boise State can still leave the Mountain West to play in the Big East in time for the 2013 season. But if the Broncos withdraw after that date, they would have to pay a much steeper financial penalty -- probably $7.5 million at the minimum.
I firmly believe the No. 1 goal remains to join the Big East in football. Though there is no automatic qualifying status and the Big East won't be among the top revenue generating schools in the four-team playoff structure, Boise State still has more to gain on two fronts -- money and access. The Big East may get beat up for its reputation and soft strength of schedule, but it is better than the Mountain West. The money should be better as well -- but keep in mind no final determination has been made on how revenue will be distributed.
So what is the hold up? The biggest issue is finding a home for its other sports. The WAC has disintegrated, and nobody knows whether it can survive as a Division I conference into the future. The conference has to add at least two schools to get there. The Big West has been mentioned as an option, but there are major concessions that would have to be made to join that league. You can understand why Boise State is having such a hard time. It may sound strange to say, but the only known quantity in all this is the Big East.
What else could be in play? I still think finding a home for the non-revenue sports is the No. 1 priority. But you have to wonder whether the Big East's spot in generating revenue from a playoff is going to play a role in what happens. There are some other factors to consider as well. The Mountain West has filed the paperwork to be granted automatic qualifying status for 2012 and 2013 based on its past results. A decision has yet to be made. The appeal could be discussed at the Presidential Oversight Committee meeting Tuesday, but the chances of getting an immediate answer are probably remote. If the Mountain West is granted AQ status, does Boise State change its mind entirely?
In addition, there are no guarantees about a future Big East television deal and how much money Boise State can stand to gain. It may be significantly less than what Boise State envisioned when it agreed to join the conference last year.
What are the chances Boise State stays in the Mountain West? I still think the chances are small, but they are not zilch. If a home cannot be found for its other sports, then Boise State has no choice but to stay put. But if it has the choice, Boise State would still want to move on to the Big East.
My guess is that it may be worth the risk and the extra financial penalty to hang tight to see how the landscape shapes out and where its other sports teams land before formally withdrawing.
The clock is ticking toward Saturday.
3hMax Olson and Jake Trotter