AAC Wanted Boise State For Football-Only; But Non-Rev Sports Had No Takers
Broncos and AAC had conversations about a football-only membership
Boise State is remaining in the Mountain West
It is a known fact that Boise State’s football program is striving to be the best and that is what led to now-former Broncos coach Bryan Harsin to shoot off some emails back in August about trying to get his program in a better situation, specifically the AAC.
Nothing came from those emails, but according to CBS Sports, the Broncos and the AAC had multiple conversations about Boise State joining as a football-only member.
However, the reason that the Broncos are not making the move is because their non-football sports would be homeless.
Boise State has not yet moved because it has failed to find a geographically-desirable conference as a home for its other sports. The AAC would accept Boise State as a football-only member. The league has been playing with 11 football teams since UConn left last year.
Boise State had been in discussions with the American earlier this year about a move, sources tell CBS Sports. The talks heated up again this fall.
The three leagues out West that could possibly host Boise State’s other sports are the WAC, Big West and the WCC. The WAC is undergoing a huge transformation as it has expanded into Texas and is getting back into FCS football with FBS on the horizon by 2030.
The WAC may not want to add Boise State without football and for the Broncos side of things, that is a huge drop-off for its sports, specifically men’s basketball.
The Big West is basically a California bus league plus they have Hawaii who pays a travel subsidy to be in the league. Expanding that league from Boise to Hawaii is too much.
The WCC is a religious-based league and Boise State does not fit that mold. Going to that league would be the best option from a competitive standpoint for all of its sports.
Had Boise State found a home, they very well could have been a member of the AAC right now.
“[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.”
Craig Thompson’s puzzling comment
In this CBS Sports piece, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said, “he had no knowledge of the AAC’s current interest in Boise State.”
Well, that is an interesting way of phrasing it. He had to know on some level, especially since Boise State is just over a year removed from suing the conference over the media rights deal. Maybe the specifics were not there but the Broncos looking for upgrades should come as a shock to no one.
“We’ll just let it play organically because [Boise State will] have to answer the other people in the membership if anybody asks them and we’ll leave it there,” Thompson told CBS Sports.
The Broncos would likely be fine saying “goodbye” to its conference members if a better offer came about, and that would go for any school in the conference if there was greener grass.
Boise State tried this before with going to the Big East and parking sports in the Big West years ago, but trying to have all go to the AAC was no practical compared to a source.
“It just wasn’t practical for [Boise State to move] all sports,” said a person involved in those original Big East talks. “It didn’t work out. We didn’t want to send our volleyball team to Central Florida.”
What If Boise State Left?
Broncos leaving would severely hurt the Mountain West since the Boise State football program is one of the better brands in all of college football. That is why Boise State gets more money in the media rights deal, even though the Broncos have not been winning conference title after conference title.
They have been to enough football championship games, winning some, and getting in the top 25 to keep that stature of being the best brand in the Mountain West.
Without the Broncos, there still would be good teams in the league but it would 100% clearly take a seat behind the AAC an be closer to the MAC for on-the-field football.
As for Boise State, leaving for football would provide an uptick in money and level of play, but the big question remaining would be about if 10-win seasons would remain nearly a gimme with a tougher slate>
This Isn’t Over
These talks are not likely to be over between Boise State and the AAC and part of the reason for a no move right now is because the Broncos have been searching for a new athletics director.
Boise State hired Jeramiah Dickey recently and for a new AD to make this type of move within months of the job would have been very difficult. Plus, he was tasked with hiring a new football coach to replace Bryan Harsin who departed for Auburn.
Now that this info is out there, the Mountain West, and specifically the higher ups like Thompson, now have something to work with and try to help keep Boise State happy by improving the Mountain West.
There have been options in the past but the league fumbled those things, so now is the time to figure out how to keep this league together with its biggest brand name.
Thompson being part of the College Football Playoff management committee is a bonus as he is part of a group involved in the current talks about expansion. Having more access to the playoff might be enough of a carrot to keep Boise State from having wandering eyes to the AAC.