Will Cougs be seeing more of Mountain West?

THE PAC-12 and Mountain West conference are talking about what the MWC calls a "best practices" connection between the two conferences -- an alliance for non-conference scheduling, sharing of officials and bowl matchups.

In a CBS Sports article by Jeremy Fowler, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said the talks are in the exploratory stage but he thinks the Pac-12 is receptive to the idea put forth by the MWC.

The 24 teams in the two conferences comprise most of the FBS college football teams out west. Exceptions include Idaho and New Mexico State (both Sun Belt-bound) and BYU, an independent.

Meanwhile, Boise State and San Diego State are returning to the MWC.

Thompson says an alliance could also be a way for both leagues to cut travel costs.

Whether the proposal would take the form of the Pac-12/Big Ten model that fell apart remains to be seen. That called for a round-robin football slate, with 12 games per year between Pac-12 and Big Ten teams.

THE COUGS' 2013 non-conference slate this season is favorable, according to FootballSchedules.com.

They rank it the third easiest among the Pac-12 teams.

The Cougs' schedule calls for a road game at Auburn, followed by home dates against Southern Utah and Idaho.

"An SEC team! This schedule is stacked! The Cougars are going to get blown out! Settle down now, please. Keep in mind this is the same Auburn team that went 3-9 and winless in conference play last year. Not exactly "S-E-C" chant worthy. That's why this schedule is so low. Not only is there a lower-level SEC team on it, but also a one-win Idaho Vandal team, not to mention an FCS foe. While Auburn will definitely be better this year, it doesn't hold enough merit by itself to bump this schedule any higher. Washington State could start the season 3-0, but 2-1 is more likely," says the site.

(They apparently didn't realize that sandwiched between in Week 2 is a road game at USC, but their central point is that the Cougs will be heavily favored against Southern Utah and Idaho -- and if they can pull off an upset against a rebounding Auburn squad, a 3-0 non-conference record might well be in the offing.)

SPEAKING OF SCHEDULING, Jon Wilner at the Mercury News recently compared the non-conference schedules of the Pac-12, SEC, Big Ten and Big 12.

Not surprisingly, the Pac-12 had the toughest slate.

Of the Pac-12's 37 non-conference games, 35.1 percent qualify as A-listers, he tabluated. That outpaced the SEC at 26.7 percent, the Big Ten at 25 percent and the Big 12 at 20 percent.

Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis recently threw a bucket of cold water on the possibility of a WSU-MSU home-and-home series. "He dismissed the report of a Washington State football series, saying it's just one school MSU has had discussions with, though there is a Pac-12 desire to schedule Big Ten schools, as MSU did with Oregon," says a report in the Lansing State Journal. Washington State AD Bill Moos mentioned this week that Michigan State, as well as Florida State and TCU, were among the home-and-home series he was pursuing.

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