By Brian Murphy
6:56 p.m. — Fresno State athletic director Thomas Boeh said the school would not have to pay an entry fee to the Mountain West, the Fresno Bee reported.
Fresno State owes up to $5 million to leave the WAC. The entry fee was expected to be roughly $1 million. Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said the league would not bankrupt its new members.
"Our intent is they come in as strong as they are," he said.
The move could save Boise State money. Thompson said the Broncos would be treated the same as Fresno State and Nevada.
3:49 p.m. — BCS executive director Bill Hancock said no one from the Mountain West or Conference USA has contacted the BCS to ask about automatic qualification status for a potential championship game between the two leagues. Or any other scenario, for that matter.
"We haven’t received any request from them, no," Hancock told the Statesman.
The BCS is set through the 2013 regular season (and Jan. 2014 bowl games). All of the leagues, including the MWC and Conference USA, have signed those agreements. So even if the leagues did request a change, it is unlikely for it to take place before the 2014 regular season (2015 bowl games).
The Mountain West has been outspoken about its desire to become an AQ conference for the BCS. It appears the league is looking at all options to reach that elevated status.
There has been much talk about the Mountain West Conference applying for a waiver for AQ status if it fails to meet the BCS eligibility requirements. There is precedent for awarding a waiver.
The Big East, which was extremely close to meeting the eligibility requirements, obtained a waiver after the 2004-07 evaluation period. Hancock said the vote was unanimous to give the waiver to the Big East at that time.
That waiver allowed the league to participate in the BCS from 2008 (2009 bowls games) through 2011 (2012 bowl games).
Hancock also said that he has spoken with BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe, but said those were private conversations that will remain that way. If BYU becomes an independent, the Cougars might want some Notre Dame-like status for qualifying for the BCS.
3:26 p.m. — CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd has updated his story with some interesting details.
Dodd quotes Thompson: "We did speak about, 'What if a group of 22-24 teams were to approach the BCS about an automatic bid vs. the nine, or eight or 10-member Mountain West?' That was on the table. I'd like to label it a 'think session.'"
The Mountain West has denied our request for an interview with Thompson.
1:52 p.m. — This is from the Associated Press:
PROVO, Utah — BYU and Texas have agreed to a home-and-home series starting in 2013. The Longhorns will visit Provo for the first game, then the Cougars will travel to Texas for a game in 2014. The two schools will play three times in four seasons. BYU was already scheduled to play at Texas on Sept. 10, 2011. BYU is 2-0 against Texas, winning a home-and-home series in 1987 and ‘88.
There have been rumblings that BYU — with its HD television studio and truck — would help Texas launch its own network.
1:45 p.m. — Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson has spoken with several media outlets, including ESPN.com and CBSSports.com. We have calls into the Mountain West offices.
According to tweets from ESPN's Joe Schad: Thompson said the MWC has "shown a willingness to work through some TV issues" w BYU
Here is Schad's complete story.
According to tweets from CBS's Dennis Dodd: Thompson has not been in contact with Houston.
Dodd writes: Houston not in MWC plans as of now
My take: It would be tough to be in discussions with Conference USA and then take one of its teams out from under it.
1:29 p.m. — Conference USA has issued a statement about its meetings with the Mountain West:
"The conferences have much in common and have worked cooperatively for many years and we are exploring creative ways to work together going forward. The discussion included scheduling, television, and post-season football. It is premature for anyone to suggest anything else at this point. We have the strong support of our members as we work on a variety of strategic initiatives. We had a good discussion yesterday and likely will have more in the future."
12:18 p.m. — The Mountain West Conference has acknowledged a strategy session with Conference USA. It would be interesting for the league to meet with C-USA and then take one of its teams (Houston).
Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com more details.
How close was BYU to joining the WAC?
The league had a 2011 football schedule created with BYU on it. Yes, BYU would not have been a member, but the Cougars would have played six WAC games. Not Idaho, though, according to ESPN's Andy Katz.
12:07 p.m. — Let's speculate for a moment. If Houston does make the Mountain West a 12-team league (that means BYU stays), how do the divisions break down?
I say a Mountain Division and a West Division:
West: Boise State, BYU, Fresno State, San Diego State, Nevada and UNLV
Mountain: TCU, Houston, Air Force, Colorado State, Wyoming and New Mexico
It makes geographic sense, keeps rivals together and splits Boise State and TCU, currently the strongest football members. Yes, the West is a better football division, but not by much.
How would you break down the potential 12-team league?
11:05 a.m. — We thought conference realignment was over this summer when Nebraska (Big XII to Big Ten), Colorado (Big XII to Pac-10), Utah (Mountain West to Pac-10) and Boise State (WAC to Mountain West) switched leagues.
Then came this week's earlier shifts — Fresno State and Nevada from the WAC to the Mountain West.
And now everything seems uncertain. Will BYU leave the Mountain West it helped form to go independent in football? Will the Mountain West grab another team, perhaps Houston from Conference USA, starting another avalanche of moves? If C-USA loses a team, does it go after Louisiana Tech, thus reducing the WAC to 5 teams and putting its status as a conference in jeopardy?
Or is it over — for now?
I wouldn't bet on it being over, not by a long shot.
• Here is a question-and-answer piece on BYU going independent in football.
• The ball is back in BYU's court after Fresno State and Nevada moved to the Mountain West.
• Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel, one of the finest writers and reporters in the country, tweeted this morning: Nothing official but won't be surprised if MWC ends up adding Houston, keeping BYU (for now)
• The Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram is the is the latest to report on a possible merger between the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA. Much of the talk has been about a merged title game with the winner getting an automatic berth in the Bowl Championship Series.
• The Orlando Sentinel also reported on the potential Conference USA-MWC merger. Orlando is home to Conference USA member Central Florida.
I am a bit skeptical about this for several reasons: It would involve the BCS giving access to the non-AQs and, if I am the Mountain West, do I want to have to share with Conference USA?
• This Forth Worth columnist thinks TCU should hold tight and wait for the Big XII to implode. It also includes some stinging comments from TCU coach Gary Patterson about BYU.
• WAC commissioner Karl Benson made no secret of his league's need to get into Texas in the future. The athletic director at Texas-San Antonio said the school will pursue WAC membership.
"Our dependency on Louisiana Tech now becomes more of a priority," Benson said. "... The state of Texas becomes a very important part of the WAC's future."
Fresno State athletic director Thomas Boeh says since Nevada and Fresno State left at the same time, they will split a single $5 million payment — and not owe $5 million each. This case is going to court. I promise you that.
Fresno Bee columnist Matt James says the $5 million (or whatever Fresno State has to pay to get to the Mountain West) is well worth it.
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