Big East Unstable Ground for Boise State Broncos, San Diego State Aztecs

By James Gomez
Chris Potter Nat Berhe Boise State Broncos San Diego State Aztecs
Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Before the beginning of the 2012 season I opined that the Boise State Broncos moving to the Big East Conference wasn’t exactly all it was cracked up to be. Let’s just say that the blue and orange fans in the Gem State didn’t take kindly to that sentiment.

I was labeled a tabloid journalist by some, and probably much worse by others. My issue with the quick money grab was two-fold, and as of December 17, it appears my worries are coming to fruition.

My first point of contention was from a competitive standpoint. The Big East is labeled a major conference by name only. For years now, programs have been leaving the league for other conferences such as the ACC, the Big 12, and soon the Big Ten.

For anyone who watches college football, I should not have to make the argument that the conference is a second-tier football product. With the scheduled departure of the Louisville Cardinals and Rutgers Scarlet Knights in 2014, it isn’t going to get better.

The second issue that I posited for Boise State’s plan to exit the Mountain West was the uncertainty of the Big East. Seven Catholic non-FBS schools have all officially agreed to join the mass exodus, to other, if not greener pastures. Like many programs, the Broncos are in search of a bigger slice of the college football pie of revenue. That slice is getting smaller by the day, it would seem.

Television contract negations for the Big East have been put on hold since Louisville and Rutgers made their announcement. With seven big-time basketball programs on the way out, the value of the conference is depleting quicker than a balloon on a cactus.

Both ESPN and have estimated the value of the conference’s media rights to be anywhere between $50 and $80 million. That figure would however, include the seven basketball schools.

Joining the Broncos in the leap to the Big East are the San Diego State Aztecs  another school that conjures up images of the East Coast. If the Aztecs and Broncos think that playing schools like the Connecticut Huskies or South Florida Bulls will give them BCS street cred with the SEC or Pac-12, they will be sadly mistaken.

What could the Broncos or the Aztecs have done? That is the crux of the matter. In a world where mid-major conferences are sinking ships, any chance to find shelter in a big-time league is completely understandable. My contention from the beginning was that the Big East was anything but stable or major.

Like a rubber band, the Big East is being stretched in different directions. As schools look to find solace in the ever-changing league, just as many are running away. Does anyone in Boise or San Diego have a worry about what is going on in their future digs, or is the desperation to affiliate with a household brand enough to ignore the current situation?

I understand what the Aztecs and Broncos want to do. No one wants be left without a chair when the music stops. I have noticed that anything other than praise for the Broncos upcoming departure is met with disdain and accusations of being a “hater.”

I do not hate Boise State and I do not hate San Diego State. All I’m saying, is the ship they think will take them to the promised land could have RMS Titanic painted on the side. Maybe this is much ado about nothing – I was told as much just a few months ago.

As long as the Big East can hold an automatic bid to the BCS than both BSU and SDSU have a more than decent argument to be made. However, mid-major schools are already getting automatic bids as long as they meet certain criteria. See this year’s  Northern Illinois Huskies out of the MAC.

There are no bad guys in this story other than the current state of the game itself. Who can blame the Aztecs or Broncos for seeing an oasis in the distance and not going after it when they have a chance? But, it could very well be a mirage. Hopefully, both programs land on their feet as they play an excellent brand of football too often unnoticed.

I still think the better play would have been to wait and see how everything shakes out. Patience is a virtue, but for college football, the quick buck rules all.

James Gomez is a Pac-12 and Mountain West columnist for Rant Sports and member of the Football Writers Association of America. You can follow James on Twitter as well.

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