By Brian Murphy
Boise State President Bob Kustra said the Broncos' football program has options as conference realignment plays out across the country.
Kustra said Boise State has not received an invitation from the Big East as of Saturday.
Asked if he expected one, Kustra told the Idaho Statesman: "I have no idea."
Kustra said he has had several conversations with officials from the league. There have not been any in-person meetings.
"A couple times I’ve heard from them and we’ve listened carefully as they’ve explained what their trying to do and we’re going to sit back and see where they're going," Kustra said, who added in an interview with ESPN that he has not assured the Mountain West the Broncos are staying.
Kustra said he has two major objectives for his program — increasing TV revenue and achieving BCS status. The Big East has AQ status with the BCS. The Mountain West does not.
"Regardless of where you are in this business of conference realignment, Boise State University has to be interested in reaching two objectives: one is the objective of a TV package that makes sense and builds a budget for this program well into the future and the other major objective is AQ status. Making sure as we get closer to 2013 when the BCS will be reorganized or we will have to rewrite the contract we’re operating under now, we’ll be in the best possible position to become or stay an AQ team," he said.
He said the Mountain West TV contract, which pays each member about $1.4 million per year, is not adequate. The Mountain West has games on Versus, CBS Sports and The Mtn.
"I don’t think anybody in the Mountain West thinks the TV deal is what it should be," he said.
If Boise State moves its football program to the Big East, it would have to find a new conference for its other sports teams. Western Athletic Conference Commissioner Karl Benson said he and Kustra have had informal talks.
"We haven’t gotten into that yet. That’s a conversation for another day and is certainly a big factor in what our final decision is and how anything else would work out if we ever were to move in that direction," Kustra said.
"It’s not anything that we have discussed yet. It’s a conversation that would have to happen with the athletic director and his coaches and only then would we know whether or not that would ever make any sense. We would have to weigh that and how that would look and how that positioned the rest of the sports up against this whole AQ conference issue."
But he made it clear the Broncos are popular among other conference commissioners.
"The one thing I can tell you about all these conversations I've had this week is that Boise State is the team of the hour, the team of the day, the team of the week. We are the ones that people are really interested in when it comes to how these conference are going to align and that's really exciting," Kustra said during a pregame interview with KBOI 670 AM.
Kustra said he sent football coach Chris Petersen a note this week.
"I just want you to know in addition to everything you have to do week in and week out to win ballgames, what a dramatic and unbelievable difference you have made, your coaches have made, your players have made in the image, reputation and power of Boise State University," Kustra said.
Kustra said it is too early to know what other conferences are going to look like.
"At the moment, I’m not exaggerating the fact that we really don’t know where we’re going. Some other things have to fall into place. When I say we don’t know where we’re going, I don’t mean Boise State doesn’t know where it’s going as far as a conference is concerned. That may be true," Kustra said.
"But what we really don’t know is where these other arrangements are going. What’s going to happen in the Big East? We don’t know that. Those are things that will have to be worked out by people, in large part, outside our control. But again, we’re keeping in touch and keeping options open."
He said he believes the Mountain West-Conference USA football alliance "is a good solution if, in fact, at the end of this year or whatever the timetable is, we find ourselves continuing to be in the Mountain West. ...
"The question is whether or not in the end this will be the best solution for Boise State or will it be the best solution for other schools in the conference that may not have the opportunities we have."
Kustra said the Pac-12 is the most logical fit for Boise State, but the school's academics need to continue improving before it becomes a realistic option.
"That day will probably come," he said. "... Those days aren't here yet."
Kustra said he has had multiple conversations with presidents and conference leaders throughout the day, trying to stay on top of the ever-changing landscape.
He said Boise's television market, which he said helped keep the Broncos out of the Mountain West until this year, is not an impediment anymore.
"When I tried to get into the Mountain West back when they took TCU when they turned us down, the argument they gave me was we don’t have a large enough TV market. You know what? In 2011, no one cares about the size of our TV market," Kustra said.
"Because the fact of the matter is no matter where we play, no matter when we play, people will show up at the stadium, they’ll turn their TV sets on. If I’ve heard that once this week from presidents and commissioners I’ve heard it a dozen times. And that is because of our fans, that’s because of Boise, the Treasure Valley. This is the place where it all started, where it all grew. And from there now, we’ve developed this national fan base and that national fan base is what is making us this incredibly powerful team now as we wrestle with this issue of conference realignment."
Big East commish: 'Conference has not extended membership invitations to any institutions'
Associated Press national college football writer Ralph Russo got a statement from Big East Commissioner John Marinatto about expansion Saturday morning. Russo put part of the statement on his Twitter account.
"Statement from BE commish: despite recent published reports the big east conf has not extended membership invitations to any institutions."
"Big east statement continued: media reports to the contrary are erroneous."
"To sum up, the big east's plan is still a plan. Lots of momentum in that direction, but not a done deal."
Boise State Interim Athletic Director Curt Apsey told the Idaho Statesman on Friday that Boise State had not been invited to join the Big East.
It might be just semantics at this point, as multiple outlets are reporting the Big East invitations won't come until early next week after a 72-hour waiting period from Friday's decision to invite the Broncos and five others, including Air Force, Houston and SMU.
We'll have much more on this story throughout the day.
• Note: Kustra said 160 people have either contacted Boise State or been contacted by the search consultant about the Broncos' vacant athletic director position.
• Here is my Big East-Boise State story from this morning.
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