Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It wasn't even two weeks ago that no less an authority than Boise State president Bob Kustra said it was "too late" for the Broncos to consider moving to the Big East for the 2012 season. But with West Virginia now officially out the Big East door, Broncos officials admitted Wednesday that the school is in active talks with the league about joining this fall after all--and actively searching for the money that would make it happen.
Bronco athletic director Mark Coyle told the Idaho Statesman that though the final amount to get Boise out of the Mountain West and into the Big East -- and the WAC, where the Broncos' Olympic sports teams are headed -- "changes by the minute," there is "a sense of urgency" for the school to reach a decision soon.
“With the departure of West Virginia, it’s created this talk about somebody jumping to the Big East. We have had those conversations, but it’s not a simple black and white answer,” Coyle said. “Yes, we want to make sure that football has a solid home, but we have to have a solid home for our 18 other sports ... Before we make any move, we need to make sure we cover all our expenses."
Those expenses are estimated to be between $7.5 and $9 million in exit fees due the Mountain West, and possibly an entry fee due the WAC to accommodate the Olympic teams on short notice. But just as West Virginia's exit has created a hole in the Big East schedule that the Broncos could fill, so the Broncos' future league could re-route the $10 million the Mountaineers are paying in their own exit fees -- or the potential $9 million in revenues the league plans on withholding from WVU -- to the MWC or WAC to help grease the skids for Boise's arrival.
Despite the potential hiccups, with Boise interested in speeding up their arrival, the Big East desperate to avoid a season with only seven football teams (just ask Syracuse and Rutgers) and the necessary cash hypothetically available, it will now be a surprise if the Broncos don't make the leap this offseason. One potential monkey wrench, however: the Mountain West-Conference USA merger, which could in turn destabilize the reeling WAC and leave the Bronco Olympic sports high and dry. Coyle called the merger a "new twist in the conversation."
But as the expansion experience of the Mountaineers (as well as schools like Missouri) have shown, where there's a will to expedite the conference-jumping process, there's usually a way. That the Broncos now publicly have the former and a game-plan for the latter, it's not hard to imagine them going from "too late" to "already there" in a matter of weeks.
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