So if I understand this correctly, then XII=10 and Ten=12? The landscape of Division I FBS has changed significantly this summer. Two BCS conferences, the Big Ten and Pac-10, both increased the number of schools in their conference while the Big XII shrunk.
While the Pac-10 attempted to strip the Big XII clean this summer, the Mountain West (typically regarded as the top non-AQ conference) made an upgrade of its own by picking up Boise St. In this past Fiesta Bowl, Boise St. defeated Mountain West’s TCU 17-10 for their second BCS bowl victory. The addition of Boise St. appeared to be a good step forward for the MWC to become an automatic bid conference. Unfortunately for the MWC, Utah isn’t waiting to upgrade.
As of next year, Utah will be a member of the Pac-10, joining Colorado (of the Big XII) as the newest members of the conference. Utah is 7-3 in its last 10 meetings with the Pac-10, including its handling of Cal in last year’s Poinsettia Bowl. Utah is the original
“bowl buster” and the first non-AQ team to win two BCS bowls. The supped-up Pac-10 will likely place its two new additions with the Arizona and LA schools. This leaves the Bay Area and North West schools to make up the other division. Losing Utah does hurt the MWC’s chances of becoming the seventh automatic bid conference, but the addition of Boise St. will help to ease the hurt.
For some time, I heard rumors that the Pac-10 has flirted with the idea of adding Utah and instate rival BYU (my alma mater), but that they had problems with BYU due to its religious affiliation. While BYU has never reached a BCS bowl, they are consistantly at the top of the conference and ranked in the top 25 (in both football and basketball). Since switching Utah for Boise St. probably leaves the MWC with about the same chance to become an automatic bid conference, this move in some ways helps BYU. Whether the Byu-Utah rivalry will continue or not is to be determined. If the Holy War does continue, BYU will have a guaranteed BCS opponent every year; not to mention the conference won’t beat itself up as much. Regardless, it’ll be nice not to have to root for Utah when they’re not playing BYU anymore.
Expansion plans for the MWC and the Pac-10 did not go exactly as planned this summer. In the middle of a four year trial, the MWC may wait out the next two years to see if they make the jump to a BCS conference before making any more additions. Only time will tell if the se two conferences will choose to continue expanding.
Check Part II of this post for more on conference changes.