The slow and gradual realization that college football is changing and that everything is on the table is finally overtaking even the most cynical of traditional fans. The latest potential conference realignment has Boise State, yes, the same Boise that is six hours west of Western Wyoming, moving their affiliation to the Big East which contains teams that would have to be in the Atlantic Ocean to be more east. And guess what? It has the real potential to happen. The Big East looked to be on life support and if the teams they are inviting which includes Air Force and Boise State for football only decline, that still stands. But the one thing the Big East can offer those programs that the aptly named Mountain West never can is eyeballs. Millions and millions of eyeballs.
Or at least television sets. The television contract that the Big East turned down two years ago encompassed nearly a billion dollars over a decade.
That’s billion with a “b”.
Even if Rutgers is terrible, they still live in an area where people watch them.
As the least populated state and therefore the least number of televisions, Wyoming’s television market is not exactly on the list for the one item driving this rabid clamor for more football revenue.
Teams such as Boise State and Air Force seem willing to abandon any type of geographical sense for boatloads of potential television cash. For the Broncos who play in cash-strapped Idaho, the allure just may be too much to ignore. The school is in the position of having a university that is unacceptable to the Pac-12 and a football team that just might be the best in the country. That gap is both a blessing and a curse at the moment as a special meeting will take place today by the Boise bigwigs as to just what they should do.
For Air Force, the vitriol by those remaining in the Mountain West will be much more clearly defined. A military academy making a football move based on television money. Fans won’t like it, and regional rivalries will once again take a back seat to the dollar.
Of course, the big winner in all of this is ESPN. Once a sports upstart, this athletics juggernaut and their bottomless pocketbook have all but squelched the talk of a football playoff and has programs from Connecticut to Idaho trying to maximize their programs’ national identity.
For Wyoming’s part, our isolated university in our sparsely populated state is going to have to try and rise to the top of whatever teams are left in the fray.
If Boise State and Air Force leave, the Mo’ West would perhaps become some combination of teams such as Wyoming, CSU, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Hawaii, Fresno State, Utah State, Idaho, San Jose State, UTEP and even Rice.
So as teams are counting their new windfalls in the Pac-12, their own independent program, the Big-12 or the Big East; as millions upon millions of televisions become more involved and invested in their way of doing things and their national footprint grows, there is one thing that will keep those televisions functioning properly.
Only one thing can keep those plasma screens and hi-definition video signals pumping their content to their new audience.
You guessed it.
Told you we would get the last laugh.
Dahl Erickson is an award-winning columnist and sports writer for the Star Valley Independent. Follow him on Twitter @SVSportsLlama