Boise State has officially joined college football’s big time.

The school’s lengthy flirtations with the Mountain West Conference finally resulted in success Friday when Boise State joined the league. The move qualifies as a major step up from the Western Athletic Conference.

The shakeup of college football is in the midst of exploding and Boise State couldn’t afford to be left behind. The Mountain West was prudent to add the Broncos as well as protecting itself should the Pacific-10 come after Utah over the next few weeks.

The Big 12 is breaking up fast. Colorado left for the Pac-10 on Thursday and Nebraska accepted an invitation to the Big Ten on Friday. The landscape shifting toward mega conferences pretty much forced the hand of the Mountain West to invite Boise State now instead of waiting until later this month.

By the middle of next week, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech also could be Pac-10 bound. Texas A&M also is considering a move to the Pac-10 but also has interest in joining the Southeastern Conference should the SEC opt to expand its 12-team league, which is currently the top football league in the nation.

If the Mountain West can keep all of its members, the conference has a shot at having a pretty good lineup after the Big 12 falls apart. Kansas and Kansas State will need homes and both schools would upgrade the quality of the league from both a football and men’s basketball standpoint.

Adding Boise State, Kansas and Kansas State to Texas Christian, Utah and Brigham Young gives the Mountain West six really good football programs. Air Force being the seventh-best program in a conference certainly isn’t a bad thing. The other conference members would be Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, Nevada-Las Vegas and Wyoming.

San Diego State and UNLV are conference doormats in football but have strong basketball programs. Adding prestigious Kansas and recently strong Kansas State to four programs (BYU, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV) that participated in the 2010 NCAA tournament would raise the stature of the league nationally.

Back to football – the addition of Boise State increases the chances of the Mountain West qualifying for an automatic BCS berth since the league can now use the Broncos’ recent success in terms of meeting the criteria.

It will be interesting to see how Boise State’s football program does playing Mountain West teams on a regular basis. The Broncos have done extremely well in head-to-head matchups over the past decade but it’s a bit different when you play eight or nine Mountain West teams in a season as opposed to one or two.

As long as Chris Petersen remains as Boise State’s coach, the Broncos will always have a solid program. But being in the Mountain West might mean some occasional 8-4 or 7-5 seasons and it will be interesting to see how the success-spoiled citizenry of Boise deals with such seasons.

Boise State had just two home sellouts (out of seven games) in a 33,000-seat stadium while going undefeated last season so it’s reasonable to wonder how fast the bandwagon would empty with a string of 8-4 records.

Another sore point in Boise will be television. Boise State has been ESPN darlings with their famed Blue Turf but Mountain West teams have played in relative anonymity since leaving ESPN and forming their own network (The Mtn.) that is a complete nonentity around the country. The conference’s other deals with Versus and CBS College Sports pale when compared to the exposure Boise State has enjoyed over the last decade.

But overall, it was a no-brainer for Boise State to finally see its goal come to fruition. Boise State needs the Mountain West and the conference needs the Broncos.

Call it a win-win deal for all parties.


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