Losing For Winning

These are strange days for the Mountain West Conference. At the moment, it's a league of confusion, with teams that will lose if they win.

This season, the MWC has it's first real, legitimate shot at landing it's football champion in a lucrative Bowl Championship Series Bowl game, earning some really big time bowl dollars. It's the MWC's first shot at sitting at the head table, eating prime rib instead of a cheeseburger come Bowl season.

The only thing that can prevent this from happening, from all the member schools getting a nice, fat pay day and an extra team in the post-season...is cannibalism by league members Wyoming and Brigham Young.

Here's the dilemma: The University of Utah is having a truly great football season, and with just two more games to go in the season, the Utes are unbeaten and ranked in the top six in the BCS Poll. If they stay there, they'll not only win the Mountain West, as they did a year ago, but they'll go a step further - they'll automatically get a bid to a BCS Bowl game, and the huge payday that goes with it.

The entire MWC will benefit if Utah gets the BCS bid, with the Utes program receiving a multi-million dollar check, and the other seven schools each getting a million dollar payday.

Think CSU, San Diego State, New Mexico and the other MWC members could use the extra cash? CSU just took a big financial hit when beer sales were halted at Hughes Stadium before the season started. A big payday for a game they would not even be playing in would certainly help make ends meet.

What about Wyoming? Joe Glenn's Cowboys are on the cusp of earning a Bowl bid themselves for the first time since 1993. They need to win at least one more game to lock up a bowl bid. The Las Vegas Bowl is interested in Wyoming. The lone home game remaining for the Cowboys, who has won their first five home games of the season, is against....Utah.

If you're Wyo, do you want to beat Utah and ensure yourself of a nice bowl trip, where you could make about $400 - $500K, or is it better if you lose - helping Utah to go unbeaten - and get that million dollar payday? And what about BYU? Arch rivals, swaorn enemies. If the Cougars, who are already bowl-bound, beat the Utes in the season's final game, how much will they really help themselves? Not much...certainly not in the financial department.

If this doesn't seem fair, it isn't. It's all about the fallacy of the whole BCS system, a system, that unlike it's basketball counterpart, penalizes teams for not being members a so-called ‘major' conference. In basketball, UNLV can win the National title as they did in 1990, and Utah can make the title game, as they did in 1996, and it's accepted. In football (where BYU won a National title in 1984 before the current system was implemented), non-BCS conference teams are all but eliminated from title contention before the opening kick-off in September. The MWC, along with some of the other mid-level conference teams (who often enjoy great success in the NCAA Men's Basketball tourney) have to hope that their unbeaten champion can sneak into football's version of the Big Dance, while "anointed" league's like the mediocre Big East can send a three or four loss champ to a BCS Bowl game. Big East members, some of whom may have gotten a boost from beating the league champ, will get nice pay-offs from their bowl trip AND the BCS.

For CSU and Wyoming, it's one or the other.

How much more losing for winning has to go on before we get a national championship football play-off system?


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