By Brian Murphy
Boise State President Bob Kustra released a statement Monday afternoon on potential conference realignment:
“Boise State is excited about playing its first football game in the Mountain West Conference this weekend, and is looking forward to an outstanding inaugural conference season in all sports. The university is pleased to be affiliated with such high-quality institutions, and has great confidence in the future direction of the Mountain West.
“While we are certainly flattered to be mentioned in connection with other conferences, and we hold those leagues in high regard, our current focus is on continuing to build the outstanding athletic programs that have helped make Boise State a popular and compelling national brand.
“The landscape of college athletics is exceptionally fluid, and we are continuing to monitor the situation. We are confident that Boise State will be well positioned for future success, and we will evaluate our status with the best interests of the entire university in mind. Boise State’s athletic achievements, academic and research successes, popularity, and vision for future growth make the university an extremely valuable conference partner.”
• Boise State football coach Chris Petersen said Monday that playing in the Big East for football would be "doable."
"Who is going to be in the league? If the money thing all makes sense, that's been the big issue with all this stuff, then I think you take the next step," Petersen said.
As for the travel: "For us, that’s not that big of a deal. You're on the plane four hours instead of two. All that’s doable," he said.
• More links: The Newark Star-Ledger is reporting that Boise State, Air Force, SMU and Houston are in play for Big East expansion.
But Pete Thamel of the New York Times tweeted this afternoon: "While Big East football ADs are still pushing for Boise, was told "no steam for Boise" today on BE call. Still a LONG shot."
The Big East Conference could soon be in the market for a half dozen football-playing schools. The conference, which has six football-playing schools moving forward after the recent defections of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and TCU, wants to get to 12 teams.
"On a teleconference earlier today, our Presidents and Chancellors authorized the BIG EAST Conference to engage in formal discussions with additional institutions and are considering moving to a model that includes 12 football playing schools," the Big East said in a statement.
Boise State was mentioned in two separate reports Sunday as a potential candidate for Big East expansion. (See below)
• More expansion news:
— TCU is expected to accept its invitation to the Big 12 Monday night.
— The Southeastern Conference released a statement Monday after its presidents met. “The Presidents and Chancellors of the Southeastern Conference met on Monday for its regularly-scheduled fall meeting. While they discussed a wide range of issues dealing with the changing landscape of intercollegiate athletics, no actions were taken with regards to expansion," the SEC said.
Much of the college football world seems to be waiting on Missouri to make a decision on its future — remain committed to the Big 12 or head to the SEC — before the next dominoes fall.
The Boston Globe and the (Newark, N.J.) Star Ledger reported Sunday that the Big East is considering adding Boise State — along with Air Force and Navy — as football-only members of the conference, which is dealing with the recent defections of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and TCU.
The Denver Post reported Sunday morning that Air Force was preparing to leave the Mountain West for the Big East in football and put its other programs in the WAC or the Missouri Valley Conference.
"Our interest is high in the Big East. That's fair to say," Air Force athletic director Hans Mueh told Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post on Saturday. "This stuff is moving fast."
Boise State would need a place for its other sports to play as the Mountain West is unlikely to allow the Broncos to stay in the league without its highly ranked football team.
WAC commissioner Karl Benson told the Idaho Statesman that he has had preliminary conversations with Air Force about housing its other teams. Benson has not spoken with Boise State officials, but is willing to talk with the Broncos.
Boise State was a member of the WAC from 2001 through July, when the Broncos joined the Mountain West. The Broncos play their first Mountain West football game Saturday against Colorado State.
"If there’s a non-football playing school that makes sense geographically for the WAC, we would certainly entertain that, whether it’s Air Force or Boise State or anyone else in our footprint," Benson told the Idaho Statesman.
"If I were an athletic director in the Mountain West, I would consider all options. If I were a president in the Mountain West, at this juncture, I would consider all options."
It was about a year ago that BYU — then a member of the Mountain West — considered moving its non-football programs to the WAC. The Cougars ended up moving their other teams to the West Coast Conference, which includes Gonzaga.
Benson said it would be difficult for the Big East to extend invitations until the Big 12, SEC and ACC complete their expansion plans.
Benson also said that he doubted a discussed football-only alliance between the Mountain West and Conference USA would result in BCS AQ status.
Big East members (football) that aren't leaving: Cincinnati, Louisville, South Florida, Rutgers, Connecticut and West Virginia
Potential Big East football additions: Boise State, Air Force, Navy
Potential all-sport Big East additions: Central Florida, Temple and Villanova.
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