The early stages of the long college football off-season have already been filled with crucial developments. Particularly, in the realm of conference realignment.
With the announcement of the Mountain West’s new TV deal, commissioner Craig Thompson also announced that it would be the last one giving Boise State preferential treatment.
We can talk separately about the validity of Boise’s lawsuit or whether they’re likely to win, though that’s difficult to do since all of our information presently comes in the form of “things the Broncos say happened” with no other side to the story.
That said, there is an outsider who is watching this closely; the New Mexico State Aggies. If Boise State leaves the MWC, that could open multiple doors.
The first is obviously the Aggies directly replacing the Broncos. While it would mark a drop in the conference’s football strength, New Mexico State offers much for the conference in basketball.
The Aggies continue to dominate the WAC and would boost the RPI of the conference. Imagine the yearly match-ups with the likes of San Diego State and Nevada. They also would provide the conference a little more in the realms of women’s basketball and baseball as well.
Joining the Mountain West would allow New Mexico State to gain a great deal of certainty when it comes to their scheduling across all sports, and would also allow them to see a significant bump in level of competition.
It would cut down on travel and maintain existing rivalries – and even boost those rivalries by also turning them into conference games. It would also give them a bump in revenue that would be not only better than what they would gain from any other conference they fit in but far more impactful relative to their current financial situation than any other Mountain West or CUSA program.
Conference USA Comes Calling?
Even if the Mountain West chooses another candidate, particularly Rice or UTEP, the Aggies still stand to benefit.
Liberty could hypothetically be a candidate, but it is doubtful that C-USA would want to bring the controversy of their program into the league, especially since the Flames have already been rebuffed once despite volunteering to pay the conference a $24 million entry fee.
New Mexico State would not extend the geographic footprint of the conference by much, as they are essentially next door to UTEP. They would also provide geographic rivals with former conference foes such as Louisiana Tech and North Texas.
They would also be a significant boost to C-USA’s conference-wide RPI in multiple sports, even more so than they would in the Mountain West.
While New Mexico State is surviving as an independent at the moment, joining the Mountain West would ease the stress of independence. Additionally, the lure of a national TV contract makes this a desirable outcome.
CBS Sports Network is no ESPN, but they’re still a significantly better partner than upstart FLO Sports. In the meantime, New Mexico State needs Boise State and Mountain West to have a falling out.