THIS DAY IN SPORTS: Boise State’s long MW wait finally ends


This Day In Sports…June 11, 2010:

Four days after putting an invitation to Boise State on hold due to a rapidly changing college sports landscape, Mountain West Conference presidents vote unanimously to make BSU its 10th member, effective July 1, 2011. The MW was holding out hope it could land Colorado first, but the Buffaloes had announced a move to the Pac-10 the day before. So much happened—and was still to happen—in a short, it was head-spinning. But all that mattered to the Broncos at the moment was that they had their coveted landing spot.  

After CU’s move, commissioner Craig Thompson couldn’t wait any longer to strike. “It was to make sure we got Boise State University in the fold, and to make sure we added the value that Boise State brings—and then continue from there.” The Boise State invite was the culmination of a seven-year effort by university president Bob Kustra to get the Broncos into the Mountain West. In that time, the Boise State football team posted four undefeated regular seasons and won six WAC championships and two Fiesta Bowls. It was a landmark day for a school that had been in Division I-A for only 14 years.

Thompson touted Boise State as giving his league four perennial Top 25 teams. But that’s where the tide would take an unfortunate turn. The best case scenario that day was the Mountain West retaining its powers (Utah, BYU and TCU) and picking up possible Big 12 castoffs Kansas State and Iowa State.Instead, the MW endured a worst-case scenario. A week later, Utah bolted for the Pac-10 (to make it the Pac-12). In August of that year, BYU announced it was going independent—the best it could do to keep up with the Utes. And TCU, which had already accepted an invitation to the Big East, zig-zagged that fall and announced a move to the Big 12.

The BYU situation was especially bizarre, as WAC commissioner Karl Benson (a Boise State grad, mind you) had schemed with some other university presidents to take in the Cougars in their non-football sports. Not only would that keep Fresno State and Nevada on the WAC roster, it would theoretically inspire UNLV and San Diego State to exit the MW for the WAC in all sports.  But the Mountain West countered with invitations to Fresno State and Nevada the same day BYU made its announcement. The Bulldogs and Wolf Pack accepted, leaving the WAC reeling just hours after it appeared the league would pull off a historic coup.  

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)


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