Could Big West be answer for Boise State?

May, 8, 2012
05/08/12
12:54
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The Big West meets next week, and whether to expand again is an agenda item.

Don't expect tremendous movement.

And that could spell doom and gloom for Boise State basketball.

Boise State made a football decision earlier this year to join the Big East in 2013 and place all of its other sports in the WAC.

The Big West wasn't an option. The Big West gladly accepted San Diego State's application for the rest of its sports, highlighted by men's basketball, after the Aztecs joined the Broncos' football program in the Big East.

At the time it all made sense. The WAC had regional teams Idaho, Denver and Seattle as well as Utah State, San Jose State and New Mexico State.

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Leon Rice
Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesWhat conference will include Boise State basketball may become a topic during recruiting for Broncos coach Leon Rice.

But Utah State and San Jose State are heading to the Mountain West in a year. That leaves Idaho and NMSU scrambling for a home (other WAC members Louisiana Tech, UTSA, Texas-Arlington and Texas State are all leaving). The Idaho Statesman reported that Idaho has talked to the Big Sky about possibly going back to that conference. Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton said he hasn't talked to Boise State.

All Boise State is saying is that it is monitoring the latest news on conference alignment, according to the Idaho Statesmen.

The Big West also is monitoring everything, commissioner Dennis Farrell said.

But the league didn't move the first time on Boise when it had the chance. The Big West was thrilled to get San Diego State to keep in its all-California/Hawaii league. The Warriors join the league in 2013 in every sport but football, which will be in the MWC.

The Big West was willing to go to 11 schools with the addition of the Aztecs. But the league knew Pacific was likely to leave, and it did, for the WCC. That put the Big West back to a manageable 10. There has been no movement to go to 12 or 14. There will likely be interest from Denver, Seattle, possibly NMSU and certainly Cal State Bakersfield.

But Farrell and the league are committed to only adding teams that make the Big West significantly better. San Diego State did. No one else on this list would move the meter in television and nonconference scheduling, and, most importantly, would only add to the cost of travel for all sports.

The best-case scenario is if the Big East option were to fall apart for Boise State and it decided to go back to the Mountain West. Boise State and San Diego State joined the Big East for the potential increase in television revenue more than an automatic qualification in the BCS that will end in two seasons (Boise State and SDSU would have one shot at this in 2013). The MWC would gladly take the Broncos back, and one of the reasons, according to sources, that the MWC held at 10 football schools with the addition of San Jose State and Utah State is in case Boise and/or SDSU change their minds.

But short of that happening, Boise State is in a perilous situation. The WAC could technically survive with the addition of Bakersfield and Utah Valley to a group of NMSU, Idaho, Denver and Seattle. Is that really what Boise wants?

Boise had best make a strong plea to the Big West to convince the league's athletic directors and presidents that the Broncos are worth the cost and the addition of another time zone (Mountain).

Boise State basketball coach Leon Rice has been in the dark on this throughout the season. He hasn't concerned himself about this issue as he builds the program. But it will be hard to avoid the subject during the offseason's recruiting calendar.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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