Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Conference That Could Have Been

Like any good, single, male college sports fan, I was watching the BYU-San Diego State game when they flashed a chart that showed RPI by college conferences and Mountain West had the 4th highest behind the Big East, Big Ten and Big 12.

I have no idea what RPI means, but as a homer with roots near the Rocky Mountains, I need to spew some love for the Mountain West before it gets blown up. The Cougars and Aztecs look like they could easily hang with the top teams from the SEC, ACC and Pac-10.  The rankings indicate that they should be able to, I know there is some subjectivity to rankings as well, but that's what we've got to work with.

That being said it makes me sad that this budding rivalry is about to get nipped.  Obviously the MWC has a few disadvantages to some of the good ol boy conferences (The Mountain TV network is a big one), but they seem to be making a name for themselves in basketball. 

The NCAA tournament will obviously tell us more.  Mountain West teams haven't made it real far in recent years, but historically have had some great teams (UNLV in the early 90's, Utah in the mid-late 90's).
That's all about I can say about college basketball, my knowledge of the sport isn't extensive, so let's talk football for a while.

The top football teams in the MWC are better than the best of the Big East.  No contest.  Does anyone really think UConn or anyone else in that league would've had a chance against TCU last year?
The Horned Frogs aren't the only dominant team to play in the conference the last few years. What if we matched up the 09 Cincinatti Bearcats vs. last year's Utes team?  Please.  How about Utah obliterating Big East Champ Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl a few years back? Case closed.

Ok, so they've got the Big East.  How does the Mountain West stack up against other conferences?  I definitely think they could hold their own against the Big 10 and ACC, but they don't play each other enough to make a legitimate argument.  However, the Conference's Bowl record the last two years has been excellent.  What about the regular season?  

Air Force lost to Oklahoma 24-27 in Norman where OU is like 59-2 or something over the last few years
San Diego State lost to Missouri 24-27 in Columbia, Missouri
TCU had a 45-10 victory over Baylor and beat Oregon State 30-21 in Texas
Utah won against Pitt 27-24 at home and took it to Iowa State on the road 68-27.

Sure there were some MWC teams that laid some eggs and lost a few contests as well.  My point is that the conference isn't just feasting upon "little sisters of the poor."  (May I point out that TCU beat a Wisconsin team in the Rose Bowl that was hanging 70 points on their Big 10 opponents)

I'm not here to say the MWC is superior to all top conferences, but you have to think that by adding Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii, they might have had a chance at some day getting there for a few years ESPECIALLY if their programs could get the same kind of money the BCS generously pays out to the 6 major conferences.  If they could have held on to BYU, Utah and TCU and thrown out Wyoming (keep UNLV and New Mexico for basketball), it could have been magical.  Could the Mountain West have stayed on top for long?  No, nobody really can, and that's a good thing, but it would've been nice to possibly hit the summit for a year or two.

Alas, it's not so.  Life goes on.  We still love college sports.

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