They say that time heals all wounds. But, if you're Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson, time has done nothing but rip your wounds wide open and expose how terrible your vision for your conference really is.
Reports came out today that the Mountain West is about to lose Air Force and Colorado State to the American Athletic Conference. Let's break this down a little bit...
The AAC flirted with San Diego State and Boise State several months ago, but it was reported that the Mountain West Schools broke off the conversations because they felt that the move would be a lateral move. How did Thompson respond? Well, he didn't.
There was no move to change the dynamics of the conference. In fact, he started to lay the groundwork to change the dynamics of Boise State's TV contract so the Broncos would get less money. Bryan Harsin ended up leaving Boise State, in part because he was fed up with the Mountain West and its leadership.
Now, the Colorado contingent of the Mountain West is set to join another conference. Why? Well...
I think this is when we say, "Uh, yeah. We told you so."
Let's take a quick look at the remaining members of the Mountain West Conference.
Air Force - Gone
Colorado State - Gone
Boise State - Hoping, wishing and praying for a Big 12 invite. If that doesn't come, gone.
San Diego State - See Boise State
Wyoming - Still in Laramie, still undesired
New Mexico - Still in Albuquerque, still undesired
Fresno State - A program on the rise and arguably the program that matters most in the conference in the future
San Jose State - The 7th best football team in California?
Nevada - Good when they have Collin Kaepernick or Carson Strong
Hawaii - The forgotten football only program that has all the potential in the world but never lives up to it
UNLV - Honestly, would they even beat Bishop Gorman?
Utah State - LOL
If Boise State and San Diego State do eventually leave the conference, what the hell does Thompson do? How on earth does this conference even survive?
Do they try and form an alliance and merge with the American? Maybe, but I can't imagine that the American wants to add all that dead weight. If they did, they'd be poaching more than just the Colorado schools.
Do they align with Conference USA? I guess that's an option, but the desirables of CUSA are about to be poached by the AAC as well. And does a conference with schools from Hawaii to Florida Atlantic matter? Is there anyone tuning into watch a late night Thursday game between New Mexico and UTSA?
Does Thompson try to add schools? If he could poach UTSA, UTEP, Rice, and North Texas that would probably be the best move he could do. But that conference is not moving the needle.
It's a far cry from the days of Utah, TCU and BYU leading the way, eh?
Some of this stuff is out of Thompson's control. Even in their heyday, the MWC wasn't going to keep schools from accepting offers from P5 conferences. But you have to look at the vision of Mike Aresco and the AAC - a conference formed literally from the ashes of the Big East - and place a whole lot of blame on Thompson for his inability to stabilize the Mountain West as things started to evolve.
And none of this is surprising to BYU fans. It was a large part of the reason that the Cougars left the conference to go independent. The Cougars ended up in the Big 12 and that's a win, but even if BYU was going to maintain their independent status, it would be significantly better than the Mountain West.
So, It's Utah State Week
I hate Utah State. I hate Utah State more than I hate Utah. I was born in Logan and I lived in Cache Valley as a young kid. I have a ton of family still in the Valley and frequent the Utah Tundra on a regular basis. I am extremely qualified to say that Utah State is the absolute worst.
Here is what you should expect if you are heading to the game in Logan this week:
- The most ridiculous student section of the year. They don't care if Utah State wins or loses. They will show up, be loud, and make a mockery of themselves just because it's BYU that they are playing. This year will likely be more wild than it has been in the past. Head coach Blake Anderson has moved the visiting sideline directly in front of the student section. (Oh yeah, in case you didn't remember, the USU student section takes up the entire lower bowl across the entire sideline. That's right, prime seats along the sideline in the lower bowl are given to students for free - that's how many actual USU fans want to be there.) It is going to be one of the most rowdy environments that BYU will face this year.
- One of the worst experiences getting to and from your seats that you will experience. If you have seats on the east sideline, you cannot exit to the north unless you want to scale a mountain like a herd of deer. In the old days, Utah State would put the visitors in the upper section on the east side to the north. Getting to the bathroom at halftime or sneaking down between quarters for a hot dog would take 30-45 minutes. Why? Because the path is a one way road and there is one bathroom on the east side. It will suck all of the suck. And you will interact with all the students who hate you along the way.
- The west side is much better. There are still no bathrooms and the exit to the north is a steep, long hill down to the parking lot, but it's significantly better than the east side.
- Cold. It won't be like snowing cold, late November game cold, but it will be colder than your typical October 1st game. And the cold in Logan has a little bite to it. (Personally, I kind of enjoy the cold, but be prepared for the cold.) The high on Friday is 70. At 7:00, it'll be in the low 50s. By third quarter, you're sitting in 40-45 degree weather. It's cold.
- Just eat before you get there. The gameday experience is better today than it was a few years ago, but it's a long ways away from being up to snuff. So eat before you get there. You have to dig a little bit, but Logan has good food. I'll be at MayMoe's, Jack's Pizza or Center Street Grill before the game, depending on the mood of the rest of my car full of people. If it were up to me, I would be at MayMoe's eating Cajun food every day. It's highly underrated. It's not close to the stadium, but it's on the south end of the valley on your way into town. Look it up and thank me later.
As for the game, I like BYU coming into this. The Aggies have some juice on offense and could make this a shootout. But, BYU's defense gets a lot of players back from injury and should provide the Aggies with the toughest test that they have seen this season. Aided by a bunch of Aggie turnovers, Boise State held USU to three points last week - and BYU's defense is better than Boise's has been.
Regardless of who is playing quarterback for the Cougars, if they score 30+ points, I like the Cougars. My score prediction is something like 38-24, but crazy things happen and this could be a little closer than that. But, I have a hard time seeing BYU's defense giving up more than 30.