For many BYU fans the games against UNLV, New Mexico, and San Diego State are a little more exciting than a bye week. These teams are just plain bad. There is no joy in winning, and even a close victory over these lower level Mountain West Conference teams is considered an embarrassment in the eyes of the national pollsters.
This weekend there is every indication that BYU will have another boring blowout victory. So what is the solution to improve the conference schedule?
There has been an outcry from many people calling for the expansion of the Mountain West Conference. The real question is what would be the benefit of adding another good team to the Mountain West Conference?
The team everyone seems to mention in the same breath of Mountain West expansion is Boise State. Yet, realistically what is the benefit for either side to join forces?
The Mountain West Conference is coming off a very impressive year last year, and the conference is actually improved this season. Last season the conference only had five teams .500 or better, this year it looks like there will be six with a chance for a seventh.
Last year the MWC had three teams ranked in the top 25 at the end of the season, and it looks as if that could easily happen again this season.
Critics of the conference will say the MWC has a worse record versus the automatic qualifying conferences; however, that is more fault of scheduling than lack of talent. The MWC just has to become craftier with who they play, like the Big East.
While the Big East does have a winning record against automatic qualifying conferences, a closer look will show that the conference doesn’t have a win over a top 25 school. The Big East beats up on automatic qualifying power houses like Northwestern, Indiana State, and Colorado. The Big East doesn’t have a victory over a ranked non-conference opponent.
As currently situated the Mountain West Conference is not only fighting to put a team in the BCS every year, but they are fighting to be an automatic qualifying conference. Would Boise State help that cause? No.
The way that the current BCS formula is structured it doesn’t pay to increase the difficulty of your schedule. It is better to just win out. Last season BYU, TCU, and Utah’s schedules were all playing schedules which were much easier than this season. Yet, it wasn’t counted against the big three MWC schools in the rankings.
This season all three schools played more difficult schedules, but they aren’t being rewarded in the polls. So why would it benefit the conference to add another good team and have more parody? Boise State would only make it more difficult for a team to go undefeated on the season.
Boise State has played one decent team this season, Oregon. Their other big win was over Tulsa, a team who was pounded 45-0 by a Sam Bradford-less Oklahoma team. The Broncos are being rewarded in the polls because they are undefeated, and because they are beating up on lesser teams.
There are other problems with adding Boise State to the Mountain West Conference. It would hurt the conference in basketball. There is no recruiting benefit of playing in Idaho. It wouldn’t increase the Mountain West Conference’s exposure in a major television market. Plus, the conference would have to divide what little money it has with another team.
Even if the Mountain West Conference wanted Boise State, why would Boise State want to join?
What would be Boise State’s reason for joining the Mountain West Conference? The WAC is awful! The conference only has three teams .500 or better, and they are lucky to have that. The Broncos are a big fish in a small pond.
The way Boise State schedules is very smart. They will play one big opponent and if they win that game they are almost guaranteed to go undefeated in the WAC. This formula will get Boise State into a lot of BCS bowl games under the current system. Why would they want to make it more difficult by playing a challenging conference schedule?
The bowl ties which the WAC has give comparable payouts to the bowls which the MWC currently has. Boise State would actually get less exposure in the Mountain West Conference, as they would have to leave their contract with ESPN.
The argument Boise State fans would make for getting into the Mountain West Conference is Boise State’s inability to get into the BCS if there has been an undefeated MWC team the same year. This happened to Boise State in 2004 and 2008.
Yet, the chances for Boise State to get into the BCS is better by playing in the WAC an hoping they are the only undefeated non-automatic qualifying conference; instead of playing a tougher schedule in the Mountain West Conference and ending the season with one or two losses a year.
The only way which it would make sense for both the Mountain West Conference and Boise State is if by adding the Bronco it would guarantee the MWC an automatic BCS bid.
With the current BCS system Boise State would not help the MWC get a bid. The formula is based on the final BCS rankings of teams, and a conferences non-conference record against BCS conferences.
Boise State would add a single win this year, over Oregon, to the non-conference record. Yet, the parody inside the conference would actually lower the final BCS poll ranking of MWC teams.
The BCS is keeping Boise State and the Mountain West Conference apart. With the BCS in mind it would make more sense for the Mountain West Conference to add a team like Utah State; a historically poor football school but a great basketball school.
So thanks to the current BCS system college football fans are stuck with games like BYU @ San Diego State and Utah @ UNLV. The conference schedule will continue to be boring for the sake of trying to earn a spot in the BCS.
There is no solution to improving the conference schedule, because the bad teams are incredibly important to upper level non-automatic qualifying schools. The upper level schools need wins to pad their records, and increase their rankings.
So now not only is the BCS system destroying the college football postseason, but the BCS has found a way to make for some very boring weeks in the regular season as well.