Should the Mountain West Move to a 20-Game Schedule?
The MW is “100 percent” moving to a 20-game slate, says Leon Rice
Is expanding the conference schedule the right move for the Mountain West?
Over the past few years, there has been movement from some of the nation’s bigger conferences toward a 20-game league schedule. Last season, the Big Ten became the first Division I conference to put it into practice, and the ACC will follow suit this season. The Pac-12 voted in May to adopt this format and the other “high major” leagues may not be far behind.
So far, though, no mid-major conferences have been officially linked to an expanded conference season. But that might change soon.
During an media day interview, Boise State head coach Leon Rice seemed quite sure that the league would move in that direction. Rice told Jeff Goodman of Stadium that he believed “100 percent” that the conference would soon sport a 20-game slate.
This isn’t exactly a new sentiment. During the 2017 media day, former Utah State skipper Tim Duryea spoke with the same confidence on the issue, saying at that time, “everybody knows it’s going to be a reality.”
But others — most notably Brian Dutcher of SDSU — were more hesitant. Dutcher opined that, as the Mountain West has routinely received only one or two bids since 2013, it is not necessarily beneficial to play more games against the conference.
Still, with Rice’s insistence that the change is a foregone conclusion, the issue has resurfaced as a major talking point. The question remains, though, whether it will work out as intended.
Under the current 18-game format, Mountain West teams are forced to play an uneven schedule. Moving to a 20-game schedule would even the playing field by ensuring that a given school meets each of the other Mountain West squads twice yearly. Over time, the imbalances of the current structure may self-correct; however, a few teams each year will skate by with a relatively easy slate of league games.
For example, in 2019-20, Nevada will enjoy one fewer matchup against preseason favorites Utah State, as well as just one game against Fresno State, which was tabbed as the sixth-best team heading into the year. Meanwhile, UNLV will play just one game apiece against Air Force and Wyoming — teams picked eighth and tenth in the preseason poll, respectively. That means two dates with all of the league’s toughest teams for the Rebels. The scales are certainly in Nevada’s favor here.