BYU & MWC: Grasping for a BCS automatic bid

<b>Part 2 of 2</b> <p> If the Big East does not resurrect itself as a major football conference in light of the ACC's daylight raid of Miami, Syracuse and Boston College, one BCS spot will definitely be up for grabs. Who will get it? Will it even matter?

The obvious contenders are the top "mid-major" conferences -- Mountain West Conference, Conference USA and the remnants of the Big East.

First, the MWC:

Simply put, the MWC needs to add 2-4 teams. This would be both an offensive and defensive move. They would need to take the offensive to secure the BCS spot with new quality football programs additions. Defensively, if a single team bolts for another conference, the MWC would not have a sufficient number of teams to qualify as a conference by NCAA standards.

Fresno State and Hawaii would be the most logical top contenders as they are usually solid in both basketball and football. The next two could be Boise State and Utah State to take the conference to 12 teams. They are not great adds, but one has been good recently in football and the other has a solid basketball program. Moreover, they keep the conference truly "mountain west" and are good for travel.

Unfortunately, I do not think adding Fresno State and Hawaii makes us more attractive to the BCS.

Secondly, the new no-name conference:

The idea of gathering the best football schools from the Big East, C-USA, WAC, MAC and MWC could result in a great new conference. Imagine a 12-team conference with BYU, Utah, Colorado State, UNLV, Fresno State, Hawaii, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Marshall, Louisville, Cincinnati and Southern Mississippi.

Travel would be a concern, but this could be minimized by following the example of the SEC and Big XII with different geographically situated divisions who play only two "cross-over" games each year.

West Division: BYU, CSU, FSU, Hawaii, UNLV and Utah.

East Division: Cincinnati, Louisville, Marshall, Southern Mississippi, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

Thirdly, Conference USA:

C-USA currently has 10 football members. They do not have any BYU-like teams that puts 60,000-plus fans in the seats or the national TV clout or football tradition of the Cougars.

However, there are many up-and-coming programs. Louisville had been to five straight bowl games. Texas Christian has won two conference championships in the last three years (WAC and C-USA). You can always count on either Southern Mississippi, East Carolina or Cincinnati to take out a "big-dog" BCS team or two each year and they've all been bowling lately.

If C-USA dumps Army and Houston and adds Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Marshall and West Virginia, they easily beat out the MWC in a dead heat for the remaining BCS spot, especially with the East-Coast media bias.

Here's how a reorganized C-USA might look:

East Division: Pittsburgh, Marshall, WVU, Virginia Tech, Cincinnati and East Carolina.

West Division: Louisville, Memphis, TCU, Tulane, Southern Mississippi Alabama Birmingham.

Finally, The New Big East:

Do to others as the ACC has done to you: Raid the C-USA and MAC conferences for their best teams and save face.

The new eight-team Big East football conference could include Cincinnati, Louisville, Marshall, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

This would also be a very good basketball (UConn, Cincinnati, Louisville and Pittsburgh -- not to mention all the non-football Big East members) and a solid football conference with the help of "powerhouse" teams like Virginia Tech and plenty of good and "up-and-coming" programs (Louisville, Pittsburgh, WVU, Marshall, Cincinnati, etc.) who have been frequent bowlers of late.

They could possibly add 1-4 more schools, to go to 9, 10 or 12 teams -- take your pick from Southern Mississippi, East Carolina, South Florida, Central Florida, Western Michigan, Bowling Green or Memphis.

This would be a conference more likely to get the BCS spot over the MWC for two reasons:

1) The presence of Virginia Tech. 2) The BCS could save face and retain the Big East (albeit a new one). That would prevent them from stripping the coveted BCS bid from an existing conference in favor of another.

Still, the Big East is widely viewed as the weakest BCS football conference. Would any of these changes make up for the loss of Miami, Syracuse and Boston College? I think not. Will they just become the best "mid-major" conference around? Time will tell.

The bigger question is does it matter?

The ACC additions, if all goes as planned, may not take place until 2005-6. Any other realignments would probably be along the same time line. The existing BCS and TV contracts will be re-negotiated at the end of the 2005 season.

Some media reports indicate the BCS is sick of playing damage control with their deliberately exclusionary set-up and plan to possibly add a fifth BCS bowl game to appease more of the have-nots -- count BYU among that number.

My crystal ball reveals the BCS will extend an automatic bowl spot for the non-BCS team with the highest BCS rating in their Top 25 rankings. That small bone and the money involved would appease many folks. However, it still doesn't really give a non-BCS program a realistic shot at the national championship.

Only when a 16 or 24-team playoff system is instituted with every conference champion represented and sufficient at-large bids will there really be an ideal situation where any team can truly claim to be the national champion.

Until then, all national championships should have an asterisk by them -- including BYU's controversial national championship in 1984.

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