Boise State Has Been Talking To AAC In Potential Move, Per Emails
More emails surface about Broncos choice of league.
Does the AAC want Boise State?
In more adventures of FOIA requests from Broncoland, another doozy of an email was unearthed by the Idaho Press-Tribune. This time, the emails state specific conversations that Boise State has had with the American Athletic Conference about the Broncos joining its league.
— Marcus Prouty (@Marcus_Prouty) December 21, 2020
These emails come from a conversation between head coach Bryan Harsin and senior associate athletic director and football chief of staff Brad Larrondo and then-athletic director Curt Apsey.
They include an attempt to move the Broncos football plus both basketball programs to the AAC, but that is not an option as the American has its eyes on Boise State football. Neither is housing non-football sports in the Big West as that travel is now from Boise to Honolulu with the majority of the league based in California.
“At this point, the AAC has told Dr. (Marlene) Tromp they are only interested in football,” Apsey said. “I would think that mindset would change if there were other schools in the West up for consideration which I think will eventually happen. Still talking to the president, the AAC and the Big West. Conversations are ongoing.”
Harsin’s comments are all about thinking a move to the AAC for football is the right move.
“I am 1000% convinced we need to make this move for football and if that means other sports too in the long run it will be what’s best for this University,” Harsin wrote.
Yes and no.
Depends on your perspective. Broncos have the three outright conference titles and the shared fourth, but haven't had fewer than two losses in a season since 2011 and haven't finished ranked in the top 20 since 2014. Still winning at a huge clip but not as much as the WAC days. https://t.co/bEa7xHuwo4
— Mountain West Wire (@MWCwire) December 21, 2020
CBS Sports is reporting that the only thing standing in the way is finding a home for non-football sports.
“[The interest] went away because they couldn’t find a place for their other sports,” said a source familiar with the discussion who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the talks. “If they could find a place for the other sports, it might have been done in the spring. Hell, they might have been [in the American] this fall.”
The move to the American would provide some better competition as the AAC does have an edge compared to the Mountain West as it is a bit more top-heavy.
That can be an issue if Boise State feels it could walk right in and be as successful as it currently is within the Mountain West where the team historically the favorite to win the division and the conference.
That has not always happened but the Broncos have appeared in the title game more than any other team and have four titles, one shared. Going to the AAC does provide a better opportunity to get to a New Year’s Six game by winning an even tougher conference.
To those who think getting to the playoff would be easier, perhaps, but the committee doesn’t value Group of Five teams and the AAC will not become a power conference with the addition of Boise State.
That brings us to money. To be a power league, the AAC would need to bring about $25 million per year and right now it is just at $7 million.
The big question is would the American and ESPN be able to renegotiate a deal, and if this move would be sooner than later there are still going to be issues of revenue loss during COVID-19.
Travel is not an issue for football with just four road league games but for other sports like volleyball, swimming and soccer it would be expensive to go to Dallas, Tampa, Orlando, New Orleans, Memphis, and other cities in the Eastern time zone.
However, in the obtained emails, there was a case that it would be a net-positive even with non-revenue sports. There would be an increase of $300,000 for the basketball programs for road conference games via a charter. A projected increase in a variety of $4 million in media rights from TV, bowl money, and NCAA Tournament credits.
Then there is a projected increase in revenue from basketball and football due to playing new teams and sometimes better teams. That projected increase is $2.75 million and overall about $10.5 million.
It doesn’t say the timeline for that additional ticket revenue. Is it per season or over a period of time. That is important information to consider to make a move to a league. For the health of Broncos athletics, getting every sport under one roof would be the best move for cohesiveness and competition.
Moving basketball and other sports to the Big West, or even the WCC, would be a step down.
The school did put together a document and the end result was that a move to the American is ideal.
“With a football move to the AAC, determine basketball programs and Olympic sports conference move that provides best opportunity for program success – West Coast Conference, Big West Conference, Missouri Valley Conference, etc,” the document said.
It's 2025, what conference will Boise State football be in?
— Mountain West Wire (@MWCwire) December 22, 2020
This is a move that would not happen this upcoming year and could be years away and likely not going to happen any time soon. The key reason is money and ESPN. The sports media giant just laid off about 300 positions and another 200 jobs are not being fulfilled during COVID-19. It will take years to recoup these costs if ever, that were lost with months of no live sports.
If the media rights deal in the AAC stays the same then Boise State would get about $7 million per year and right now the Broncos make $5.8 million per year for all sports in the Mountain West.
If the American allows just Boise State for football, that share would be less and the amount the Broncos would get from another league for basketball would not offset the differences. There would be an uptick in ticket sales with new opponents and better ones but how long would that last and the money spent on expanded trips in the AAC would increase and even for a full share that $1.2 million will shrink quickly.
Also, remember there was a lawsuit about bonus money awarded to the Broncos for football within the past year and it was ultimately dropped, so the relationship is not exactly at its peak.
This will be a fascinating thing to watch as the relationship between the Mountain West and Boise State over the next 12-18 months.