By Chadd Cripe
Texas announced Monday that it has reached a deal to stay in the Big 12, which now has 10 schools. Texas declined an invite from the Pac-10.
That leaves the Pac-10 with 11 teams, having already added Colorado from the Big 12. Reports indicate the Pac-10 likely will invite Utah to give it 12 teams, the minimum to stage a conference championship game. The move also would cement the Pac-10 as the top conference throughout the West, with schools in the Seattle, Portland, Bay Area, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Denver TV markets.
If Utah leaves the Mountain West, which added Boise State on Friday, the league essentially will have replaced the Utes with the Broncos. If the Utes don't leave until 2012, the league would be able to count both schools' football performances toward eligibility for an automatic Bowl Championship Series berth in 2012 and 2013, but it would have a weaker case to make in front of the presidential oversight committee, which most likely will determine the Mountain West's fate.
If the Utes leave in 2011, only the Broncos' results would count. That would put the Mountain West right back where it was before inviting Boise State - a solid but fairly distant seventh in average team ranking.
The Mountain West still would be a better football and men's basketball league than the WAC, where Boise State has played since 2001.
Losing a team would increase Boise State's payout in the Mountain West and allow for an eight-game conference football schedule, which might make it easier to keep Idaho on the schedule.
With the Big 12 staying together, there isn't a school the Mountain West could add that would significantly enhance its BCS hopes.
The Big 12 is expected to remain at 10 teams. If the league decided to expand, that also could impact the Mountain West.