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Boise St. ready to jump ship to the MWC
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SpanaBaller Offline
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Boise St. ready to jump ship to the MWC
http://www.idahostatesman.com/1256/story/159304.html

BSU president's long-term goal is a spot in the Mountain West, but it won't happen soon
By Chadd Cripe - ccripe@idahostatesman.com

Boise State president Bob Kustra's interest in joining the Mountain West Conference has not wavered. That's still his long-term vision for the Broncos.
The Mountain West, however, isn't providing much reason for optimism.

The league's board of directors has not discussed expansion since adding TCU in January 2004, Mountain West spokesman Javan Hedlund said. Kustra had lobbied for that spot.

Kustra sent letters to each of the nine Mountain West presidents last season and only one — the BYU president — responded.

The other Mountain West members are Wyoming, Utah, Colorado State, Air Force, San Diego State, UNLV and New Mexico.

"Let's see how this season goes," Kustra said this week, "and it may be time to raise it again."

The Mountain West and WAC are fierce rivals — with the Mountain West owning a slightly better national image and a stronger bottom half of the league.

The WAC was 7-5 against the Mountain West last year, but the Mountain West leads this year's series 3-0.

The WAC gets more national TV exposure through its deal with ESPN, but the Mountain West gets more money through its deal with CSTV.

Today's game at Bronco Stadium — featuring Wyoming of the Mountain West and Boise State of the WAC — is the latest interconference duel. BSU is 11-0 against Mountain West members since joining Division I-A in 1996.

"I'll straight up tell you I think our league isbetter than theirs top to bottom," Wyoming coach Joe Glenn said, "and we have a chance to prove it."

The WAC's biggest weakness might be its lack of stability. Membership has changed three times since eight teams left the WAC to form the Mountain West in 1999. The last changes came in 2005, when four left and three joined.

And Boise State is not the only WAC school with Mountain West dreams.

"My job is to create enough value in the WAC that, if given an opportunity by any of our schools to change conferences, they would conclude the WAC is just as valuable if not more valuable than the other conference," WAC commissioner Karl Benson said.

Here's what Kustra said about the Mountain West and the WAC in an interview this week with the Statesman:

Q: You have been outspoken in the past about wanting to join the Mountain West. Where do you stand today?

A: "Frankly, in the last six months or so, it's been quiet. … I think the Mountain West has been in this holding pattern at nine since they picked up TCU, and they always said they'd be willing to talk about going to 10 or 12, but I've heard nothing."

Q: Is that still where you want to be long term?

A: "Yeah. I think intermountain competition among the schools that are not only like us, but are easy to travel to and from, makes a lot of sense. Certainly I would entertain an offer or a discussion of that. As I've said many times since I've been talking about this in my four years here, the WAC is a good conference for Boise State. Its only drawback as far as I'm concerned is travel and the difficulty of reaching across the nation to play your competitors. And if we could hook up with the Mountain West, which has excellent competition, which has considerable academic quality, it would be a good match for us."

Q: You said in 2004 you would keep the Mountain West updated on Boise State's progress. Have you done that?

A: "Sometime earlier this year or late last year I sent a letter to each of the presidents as an update, telling them about the stadium expansion, how our teams were doing, about our academic progress. I received one letter back, from the president of Brigham Young University. I certainly took that to mean this was not the No. 1 issue that Mountain West presidents were addressing.

"We will keep them apprised of our efforts. ... We're good enough and we're proud enough of who we are that I don't think we ever should look to anyone viewing us from afar that we're down on bended knee. Boise State doesn't have to do that. If we go to the Mountain West, I want to go because I got a phone call or two from prominent presidents, not because I'm groveling to get in."

Q: What was the BYU response?

A: "He was very cordial and welcoming. Dr. Cecil Samuelson and I have corresponded more than once over the years. He's a great guy. … His letter said, ‘Hey, we're always interested in exploring this.' But it was pretty clear he was not representing the conference."

Q: Are you surprised, with what Boise State has accomplished, you have not been invited?

A: "They simply have not really sat down to make the decision it's time for us to move to a larger number. Once they do that, I would be shocked if we didn't get one of the first calls, if not the first call, to join. ... They told me they'd be good and ready after they gave the TCU experiment a couple years. That's why I sent the letter out."

Q: Are the struggles by the lower part of the WAC a concern?

A: "Definitely. … How WAC teams have performed in preseason play (this year) is something that concerns me. We have to be cognizant of it and work hard both in and out of the conference to improve ourselves. Some of us clearly have a lot more heavy lifting to do than others, but I think they can get there. The schools we're talking about certainly have made some investments, which I think will pay off."

Q: Would losing the relationship with ESPN if you moved to the Mountain West concern you?

A: "It sure would. ESPN has really carried the WAC into living rooms across the nation. I'd hate to think of losing that. That's the one advantage we have over the Mountain West, because I don't think their TV deal worked out for them very well."
09-15-2007 11:16 AM
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Boise St. ready to jump ship to the MWC - SpanaBaller - 09-15-2007 11:16 AM



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