What does BYU's football independence mean for the Mountain West? Catastrophe, according to some. It looked like, even without Utah, the Mountain West was all set to gain automatic qualification status for the BCS. That would mean that, like the six privileged conferences, the winner of the MWC would automatically head off to play in the BCS.
With BYU choosing to go the independent route (the Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that it's a done deal), meeting the requirements to be considered an AQ conference becomes much more difficult, even with TCU and Boise State in the bag. The three criteria used when considering a seventh conference are, according to BCSFootball.org, "rank of the highest-ranked team, rank of all conference teams and number of teams in the top 25." The 2008, '09, '10 and '11 seasons will be used in determining qualification.
Losing BYU's 2008 and 2009 seasons would mean losing their 2008 season (10-2, 16th in BCS final standings) and their 2009 season (11-2, 15th in BCS final standings), as well as whatever they're able to do in 2010/11.
So with Utah gone for sure and BYU likely leaving, where does that leave the MWC in terms of member schools? BYU's departure leaves the conference with eight schools. Andy Katz of ESPN.com reports that Fresno State and Nevada of the WAC, where BYU will partake in all other sports, have been offered membership in the MWC. He also reports that Joe Schad, also of ESPN, was informed by a source that Houston and UTEP of Conference USA have also been considered as possible additions.
Of course, if Fresno State or Nevada were to jump ship it would cost them $5 million per a buyout agreement they signed after Boise State bolted the conference. There's also been speculation that the Broncos decide to stay in the WAC with AQ status now seemingly up in the air for the MWC.
None of the four possible additions mentioned really hold weight to BYU's production in 2008/09, or what they could do in 2010/11. For all intents and purposes, the MWC's bid for AQ status following the 2011 season when, according to BCSFootbal.org, "[t]he computations [for AQ status] will be made according to the conference's membership on Dec. 4, 2011," just took one to the chest. - Danny Hobrock
Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.
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