Should Boise State leave the Big East to return to the Mountain West?

Strangely non-rhetorical question of the week: Should the Boise State football team leave the Big East Conference - the conference it viewed as salvation just months before - to return to the Mountain West, home of invisible television coverage and WAC refugees?

The re-exodus back to Craig Thompson Country is at least an idea now, thanks to the WAC no longer being able to service Boise State's Olympic sports. To be sure, there are other ideas, like the super obvious one of staying in the Big East. But for the time being, the Boise State brain trust has to entertain any and all options, no matter how humiliating.

Why would the Broncos think seriously about going back to the Mountain West? Not a bad question to ask, considering I thought this was a joke question three days ago.

First, Boise State needs a home for its Olympic sports, and the prospects include a conference that already said no (Big West), a conference that showed no interest (West Coast), and a conference that we all thought it would be hilarious if Idaho had to join (Big Sky). The only way the Broncos can get their spare teams into the Mountain West is if the football team comes back.

Second, the Big East has a funny second-hand-store smell to it, what with all the non-BCS it keeps adding (Memphis? Really?) and all the good BCS ones it keeps losing. We knew this going in, but I guess the automatic-qualifying high was too strong to notice or care.

Third, automatic qualifying might no longer exist as we know it. Changes are coming to the BCS, and those changes might render joining a conference like the Big East moot.

As you can see, a case can be made to go back to the Mountain West. A case can also be made for staying in the Big East with Exhibit A being the potentially lucrative television contract and Exhibit B the $10 million exit fee Boise State would have to pay to back out of the conference. If only there were a die-hard Boise State blog to provide a clear answer to this conference mess.

Cue hasty generalization and conclusion drawing!

Boise State should stay in the Big East - for the money and for the future good of the football program. Having $10 million extra dollars would be nice, but it will be just as important for the Broncos to be well-positioned whenever the BCS dominoes fall. Partnering with a conference of San Jose States is an odd way to impress. The Big East at least afford the Broncos some better opportunities with dollars and competition and bowls and prestige. If the college football landscape flattens out into a BCS free-for-all that is blind to conference affiliation, then being in the Big East or the Mountain West would be a push. But if there is any way that a line of demarcation might be drawn between the haves and have nots, with the Mountain West serving as the have-not ceiling, then Boise State has to do everything it can to make sure it remains a have. The future was uncertain when Boise State joined the Big East, and the decision was a good one then. Not enough has changed since to make me think any different.

Your turn

What do you think about Boise State's sticky situation? How would you feel going back to the Mountain West? Where do you want the Olympic sports to go? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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