Boise State, BYU and San Diego State may make a return to the Mountain West Conference in the latest saga surrounding college football realignment.
Boise and SDSU are poised to join the Big East Conference in 2013, but the two MWC schools may have a change of plans, according to ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy. BYU, which bolted the Mountain West to become an independent after the 2011 season, is also considering such a move.
The news of another potential shakeup in college football realignment comes as Rutgers of the Big East and Maryland of the Atlantic Coast Conference announced they will be moving to the Big Ten Conference.
Should Boise, BYU and SDSU return to the MWC, the move may be motivated by the chance to compete in an access bowl playoff game, not money, McMurphy reported.
As college football goes from the BCS system of determining a national champion to a four-team playoff system starting in 2014, the NCAA’s rules for deciding who gets to play in access bowls would give the Mountain West just as much of a chance for playing in an access bowl as the Big East.
The highest rated champion in the “Group of Five,” which consists of the Mountain West, Big East, Conference USA, Mid-American and Sun Belt conferences, would get an automatic birth to one of the access bowls.
Under the current BCS system, the Big East champion earns a BCS bowl berth, which made switching to the conference an attractive option for Boise and SDSU.
Boise State President Bob Kustra confirmed that the university has had discussions with the Big East, but did not directly address whether the school is thinking of bolting back to the Mountain West.
“We are in contact with the Big East Conference office and are evaluating the information that has come forward regarding conference realignment the past few days,” Kustra said, according to Idaho Statesman reporter Brian Murphy.
Despite the ESPN.com report, a source at SDSU disputed the university is toying with returning to the Mountain West.
"Nothing changes, we are committed to the Big East,” the anonymous source told the website.
However, Murphy reported that the school’s athletic director plans to hold a press conference Tuesday, although it’s unclear why the media availability was called.
As for BYU, Cougars head coach Bronco Mendenhall said he was not aware of the university planning a return to the MWC.
“I don't know what to tell you," Mendenhall told ESPN. "There's nothing I'd be shocked by with realignment, et cetera, I'm just trying to get our team ready to play."