Sanity makes a comeback

Jan 24, 2013 By Steven R. Peck

Wyoming's Mountain West Conference will retain much of its traditional form after all

Don't look now, but some of the powers that be in college sports have done something that almost restores one's faith in humanity.

In a refreshing counter to geographical insanity, it seems that longtime Wyoming sports rival San Diego State won't become a member of the Big East conference after all.

Likewise for Boise State, which also had announced plans to bolt the Mountain West Conference for the Big East. Both are staying put, which will make the conference better as it allows for a great football school (Boise State) and a top-notch basketball school (San Diego State) to remain.

Better still, plans for the expansion of the Mountain West Conference have regained a measure of sanity as well. No longer are teams such as Central Florida and East Carolina being touted realistically for membership in the Mountain West.

Instead, the most obvious expansion candidate at the moment appears to be Texas-El Paso (UTEP), which was a member of the old Western Athletic Conference for years and is at least in the same time zone as Wyoming and the traditional Mountain West teams.

These moves aren't on par with climate change, curing cancer and peace in the Middle East, but there is no denying that they are important to a lot of people. In the case of the Wyoming Cowboys, they represent our only state university. They are the only representatives of our state in national college athletics. A huge number of our state's residents attended UW, have children attending it now, or both.

And it makes no sense to the fans and boosters of the program to be asked to get fired up about a big "rivalry" game against Southern Mississippi.

San Diego State barely makes sense for a conference called "Mountain West," but recent moves to expand have been sensible enough to allow for a western division of the conference for the likes of new arrivals Fresno State and Nevada (with SDSU), maintaining the familiar rivalries with Colorado State, Air Force and New Mexico, and making some very logical room for Boise State and Utah State.

College athletics was built on loyalty, tradition and rivalry, but in recent years it has become so blatantly about money that it is increasingly hard to distinguish it from professional sports.

Money rules, and a school such as Wyoming has a tough time competing in that world. So it's comforting to see Boise State and SDSU remaining, not just for the enjoyment of the competition, but for the strengthening of the conference as well.

Are you listening, BYU? Come on back home to the Mountain West, and we'll have one of the best leagues in the nation again -- even without Central Florida on the schedule.

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