Sunday, March 01, 2009

What do you bring to the table?

When did you make the move to the “big people table” at holiday meals? At what point did you graduate. For most it was a mere matter of age. There were those awkward years where you were seated in the kitchen with the six year old cousin that is no longer cute and then the first year sitting with the adults where you were all but invisible. Once you made the move there was no going back.

The Mountain West wants a seat at the BCS table as they have fielding very competitive teams that have already won three BCS games—more wins than the ACC (2004-2009) despite not having the coveted automatic bid. In the 2008-09 final poll the MWC had 3 teams in the final top 25 as compared to 2 for the Big East and 3 for the Atlantic Coast Conference. If the MWC were applying for an opening they would definitely be the top candidate.

The Mountain West resume as impressive as it is lack one critical element...television numbers. Given that the BCS is a television driven event the ability to demonstrate that your conference can deliver the eyeballs is of paramount importance. Currently, this key piece is missing. Looking at the 2008 numbers from ESPN you'll see that the MWC fails to deliver impressive numbers.

The road to the BCS may go through the Magic Kingdom of college football. With ESPN having the BCS broadcast rights, the folks in Bristol have unprecedented influence over the agenda. In short given the overwhelming influence ESPN has over the college football storyline, Craig Thompsonthe, MWC commissioner first needs to get the conference a place on already crowded regular season broadcast schedule.

How can the MWC prove that the conference can deliver the all important television rating and the dollars to justify the BCS payout, if the games are hidden on the mtn. , CBS College Sports, and Versus? While it may sound harsh but your on the field performance will get you an invite to the BCS when warranted, a permanent berth requires that you prove the financial angle is covered. Can the addition of one of the non-BCS conferences grow the pot of money? Until the answer is yes the current situation cannot change.

If Congress wants to get involved and regulate college football they might want to start with assuring equal television exposure. Yes, a return era to the equal time. Organize the Fall sports schedule towards make sure that we get to see Wyoming, Troy, and FIU in prime time. While we are nationalizing the banks, maybe we can nationalize cable TV. And start by moving the masters of Bristol to the shores of the Potomac.

The alternative for those not at the BCS table is to grow (up) and earn your place at the table.

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