Realignment Saga: How the changes in College Athletics impacts the Mountain West Conference and Boise State

Mountain West Conference Logo

It’s time to take everything you think you know about college football and throw it out the window. 

In recent weeks, the scope of College Football has changed dramatically. From the reconfiguration of both the Pac-12, the BIG-12 and the BIG-10, the layout of college football has been changed forever. 

Change is never easy. There are adjustments that need to be made, unfamiliarity can take a toll and sometimes there’s a loss in identity. 

That’s exactly what the College Football realignment can imply. 

The initial realignment moves are largely attributed to the Pac-12’s inability to agree to a media deal. The current deal between the Pac-12, ESPN and FOX is up in 2024, making it more feasible for teams to leave the conference since current member institutions will not be subject to an exit fee when they leave.

There have been eight schools to leave the Pac-12 conference. The list of schools that left the conference include USC, UCLA, Utah, Arizona, Arizona State, Washington, Oregon and Colorado.

With announcements on Aug. 4, Pac-12 teams University of Oregon and the University of Washington will move to the Big Ten Conference starting in 2024. 

University of Arizona, Arizona State University and the University of Utah are also jumping ship as they announced that they are leaving the Pac-12 conference to join the Big 12 Conference starting in 2024.

With the future departures of these eight teams, the Pac-12 will have just four teams remaining. The last ones standing are Cal-Berkeley, Stanford, Washington State and Oregon State. 

Everything that is “standard” for college athletics has been completely overthrown. As the conferences battle to be the best, there is no denying that it is a dog-fight to stay alive. 

Since the Pac-12 seems to be all but finished, the Mountain West is the leading contender to be a possible merger with the Pac-12. 

The most likely probability for the remaining four teams in the Pac-12, is for Stanford and Cal-Berkeley to join the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) while Oregon State and Washington State join the Mountain West or possibly construct a new conference with the Mountain West. 

“It’s not off the table, but we have a lot of questions,” Mountain West Conference commissioner Gloria Nevarez said during the NCAA college football media days in Las Vegas. “It is like buying a house. You wouldn’t buy a house without a complete inspection. So there’s just a lot of questions, and they’re the type of questions that I think the Pac-12 or the remaining schools in the Pac-12 need to have time to figure out.”

As the Pac-12 has quickly dwindled down to the “Pac-4”, many Boise State and Mountain West Conference fans are skeptical on what the possible future can hold

One of the biggest issues for the possible Mountain West and Pac-12 merger is the annual revenue from the conference’s TV deal. 

As it stands, the Pac-12 schools were pulling in over $30 million, while the Mountain West’s TV deal is vastly different. The deal which expires in 2026, generates around $4 million for every school, while Boise State receives just under $6 million annually.

“Then also questions for us about assets and liabilities and fit and what’s really there. But certainly – absolutely everything’s still on the table,” Nevarez said. 

Mountain West Conference Logo courtesy of the Mountain West Conference

Much of the realignment moves stem from money. 

Former University of Florida head coach and current ESPN analyst, Dan Mullen, weighed in on the college realignment stating “It is a shame. And you get into what drives this, the whole realignment, is the money, right? It’s the TV rights, it’s the money,” said Mullen. “Don’t think it is just the athletic department or these people wanting it. It is the president of the university that’s sitting there and saying, ‘If I move over to this league? I essentially just got a massive donor giving money to the school.’”

Granted, the realignment can heavily impact schools whether it be negatively or positively. However the odds of more donor money and revenue is high when switching to a more “desirable conference”.

The hopes for Boise State to join a Power Five conference has been a mere dream for years now. 

After proving themselves to be one of the top Mountain West schools year in and year out, the hopes seem to diminish with each passing year. 

Though the Pac-12 and Mountain West have yet to come to an agreement on what the future could look like, the scope of college athletics and football have been forever altered. 

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