June 30, 2012, 10 years ago today: With about two hours to spare, Boise State submits its formal resignation from the Mountain West Conference, effective June 30, 2013. The Broncos would have faced a penalty of at least $5 million had they withdrawn with less than one year’s notice. This came exactly a year after Boise State had joined the Mountain West amidst much fanfare following 10 years in the WAC. But the temptation of a spot in what was then a BCS league was too much for the university’s administration to resist.
Boise State and San Diego State had announced a move of their football programs to the Big East the previous December. The Big East was in a tenous position, as Pittsburgh, Louisville and West Virginia had announced in 2011 they were leaving the conference. But Louisville, Rutgers, Cincinnati, UConn and South Florida were already there, and the Big East hoped that the Broncos and Aztecs, along with the addition of UCF, Houston, SMU, Memphis and Temple, would keep the league in the BCS fold.
The Aztecs quickly got an invite to the Big West for their non-football sports, but the Broncos still had to cement the Big West as a landing spot for its other sports when they announced their departure from the MW. It eventually happened, but it never felt right. Then came the implosion. Rutgers announced in November of 2012 it was leaving for the Big Ten, and shortly thereafter, Louisville said it was bolting for the ACC. With the Big East reeling, the seven Catholic schools that made the conference a basketball power announced they were breaking away. They ended up taking the Big East name with them (the American Athletic Conference was officially born July 1, 2013).
With what was left of the league crumbling before our very eyes, it was struggling to negotiate a new TV contract that at one time was predicted to be lucrative. The Big East was also going to see its automatic-qualifying spot in major bowls disappear with the implementation of the CFP system in 2014. So on New Year’s Eve 2012, Boise State beat another deadline by finalizing a deal to stay in the Mountain West. The Broncos were able to separate their home games in Mountain West TV negotiations, as well as spur the league to institute a bonus system for national TV appearances. It had been a head-spinning year.
(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.)