Conference realignment is in the news yet again. BYU’s coach, Bronco Mendenhall, wants his Cougars in the Big 12 conference.
Mendenhall recently told the Austin-American Statesman that the Cougars “would love to be in the Big 12. I would love to be a member of that conference. I think that would make a lot of sense.”
The Big 12 is the smallest of the Power 5 conferences, but according to ESPN, Kansas State’s John Currie and West Virginia’s Oliver Luck both stated that the Big 12 has not had any discussion of expanding, nor is it interested in doing so.
Where does that leave Boise State?
Since their premature departure from the Big East Conference, Boise State, along with other “Group of Five” schools, has been the talk of conference realignment if the Power 5 conferences were to expand to 16 teams each. With the stronghold the Power 5 conferences are putting on the NCAA, that day may never come.
The lack of “institutional control” the NCAA has displayed within itself is creating a pathway for the Power 5 to breakaway and create their own organization not only for football, but for other collegiate sports as well. This may never come to fruition, but if it does the “Group of Five” will forever be banished in purgatory, with infinitesimal chances of ever reaching the Promised Land. With no value to add, why would a Power 5 conference pick up a smaller university to share its revenue with?
Boise State’s problem has always been that the school adds no value to a Power 5 conference. With an insignificant media market, sub-par academics, nominal funding, and substantially smaller sporting venues, Boise State does not have the allure a Power 5 conference desires. The University could not put into the conference what they would be getting out of it. It would create turmoil with the schools that put in more of revenue and saw less of it back. Even with major upgrades to the university as a whole, the logistical issues would be a nightmare for any other conference besides the PAC 12.
Before you try and make a case for Boise State to be invited into the PAC 12 conference, take my previous value rationale and tenfold it. That is what Boise State has to compete with to get into the conference. PAC 12 commissioner Larry Scott has mentioned that Boise State and San Diego State would be great additions his conference if that time ever comes. But will it? Boise State would be competing for a spot in arguably the most elite conference in the NCAA: a spot that once had powerhouses Texas, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State rearing their heads in for a chance to call the PAC 12 home. While Scott gives the impression that Boise State is on his mind, the fact of the matter is that Boise State would be more deleterious to the PAC 12 than beneficial.
The only hope for Boise State, BYU, and the likes, would be for the Power 5 conferences to expand to roughly 16 teams each. Anchor schools would be poached from one conference and lured to another, making their previous conference scramble to find a replacement to carry the slack. Will the Power 5 conferences ever grow to 16 schools? Only time will tell.
Until that time, Boise State may get a boost for the Mountain West’s reputation in allowing BYU to join the conference once again. Hopefully the day comes when Boise State will get to call themselves Big 12 or PAC 12 members, but for the time being they will have to make do with what they have.