By Chadd Cripe
© 2010 Idaho Statesman
Mountain West mania struck again Friday with comments from ESPN’s Joe Schad that two sources told him Boise State likely would receive an invite this summer and an unsourced report out of Fresno, Calif., calling it a done deal.
All of that reporting is speculation based on what the Mountain West board of directors (the school presidents) might do when they meet June 6-8 in Jackson, Wyo.
The board of directors makes the final decision. Seven must vote in favor of inviting Boise State to issue an invitation.
The Mountain West Joint Council — athletic administrators and faculty athletic representatives — met May 2-5. Expansion was not on the agenda, Mountain West spokesman Javan Hedlund said, but could have been discussed informally among the athletic directors.
The Mountain West hasn’t set the agenda for the board of directors meeting yet. Any invitation likely would come from that meeting because the league needs to add Boise State by July 1 to count the Broncos’ accomplishments toward eligibility for a Bowl Championship Series at-large berth during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Boise State athletic director Gene Bleymaier said Friday that he doesn’t expect the Broncos to get left on the outside looking in when the expected wave of conference realignments happen.
“If we keep doing what we’re doing, they’re not going to be able to leave us out,” he said. “Not when we’re having the success we’re having. Last year, we were a top-50 program in the nation (in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup). We have a chance of being close to that again this year. We just need to continue to excel and do everything we can do to grow and get better.”
Bleymaier doesn’t think Boise State needs to lobby anyone at this point. There is some speculation that they will be invited next month to join the Mountain West Conference in 2011-12.
“All we can do is excel athletically and academically,” he said. “That’s the most anybody can do. The WAC obviously is monitoring the situation. We will all continue to do so and react accordingly. We’re not going to be the ones to initiate change.”
The WAC on Friday said that Boise State needs to notify the league by July 1 if it wants to leave in 2011. That’s different than the date league officials previously provided and different from what’s in the code book on the WAC’s website.
Other items of interest from Bleymaier:
— He doesn’t expect the WAC presidents to make it more difficult for teams to leave the conference when they meet next month. Currently, a departing team forfeits its share of conference revenues in its final year.
— His take on conference expansion: “If the Big Ten goes to 16 teams, I think it’s going to be a major overhaul.”
— He expects the athletic department budget to “grow a little” this year because of salary increases and rising scholarship costs. Last year, he had to cut the budget and make layoffs.
“We’re tightening our belts … and trying to do things more cost-effectively,” he said.
— He’s hopeful Boise State will win the WAC’s Commissioner’s Cup. The Broncos have been boosted by surprising successes from the women’s soccer, swimming and diving and softball teams. They’re in first with four sports to go.
“It’s been a very good year for the athletic department,” he said.
— Yesterday, Bleymaier said that no Pac-10 school is willing to pay the kind of money he wanted for the 2011 non-conference road game. Mississippi will pay Boise State $900,000. Boise State is getting $1.25 million for this year’s game against Virginia Tech in Landover, Md.
Bleymaier also said he continues to ask the six southern Pac-10 schools for home-and-home deals but the interest hasn’t been mutual. None of the six have played at Bronco Stadium.
— There is some thought that Boise State can use its notoriety to land major non-conference games. Mississippi, for example, expects to sell out next year’s game and ESPN made it clear that the game would be on national TV.
“It’s a big help,” Bleymaier said.
— Boise State and Mississippi didn’t discuss a two-for-one arrangement like the Rebels have with Fresno State (games in Oxford in 2010 and 2015, game in Fresno in 2011), Bleymaier said. Both schools were focused on filling a single opening in 2011, he said.