The San Diego State Aztecs thought they were making the best move for their program when they agreed to join the Big East as a football-only member starting next year. However, with the Boise State Broncos deciding to stay with the Mountain West Conference, that move is looking less and less like a good idea. Luckily for them, their old home will still have them.
According to Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman, the MWC will extend an option to SDSU to join the league again before they offer membership to any new schools. Keeping the Aztecs in the fold would give the Mountain West that much more stability, especially in comparison to the conference that tried to pick off a few of its teams in the Big East. However, the offer is not good forever, as the right of first option expires at the end of January.
The Aztecs have became more and more wary of the Big East move as they’ve watched the conference hemorrhage members to the ACC and Big Ten. Luckily, they have a provision in their deal with the Big East that would allow them to back out of joining the conference without penalty given that there were no other teams in the conference west of the Rocky Mountains. With Boise State’s defection, that stipulation now applies which makes it even easier for the Aztecs to return to the fold in the Mountain West.
The school and the conference have been heavily involved in talks in recent days as a new television deal for the Mountain West has strengthened their position as a legitimate college football conference, which will help them keep teams from leaving for bigger conferences in the future. The Aztecs are taking their time with the decision, making sure they make the best choice for their school, though it appears they are leaning towards returning to the MWC.
Once San Diego State makes its decision, the conference will then concentrate on a 12th team (if necessary) or potential 13th and 14th members to expand the conference further. Possible additions include the Houston Cougars, SMU Mustangs, UTEP Miners and Tulsa Golden Hurricane. The Cincinnati Bearcats, current members of the Big East who have been heavily campaigning to leave, could also be an option for the league.
Whatever San Diego State decides, it looks like the Mountain West is getting stronger as the Big East continues to crumble. The only question is which ship the Aztecs want to be on going forward.