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MWC busy pestering the BCS

Published: Saturday, Feb. 21 2009 1:44 a.m. MST

The Mountain West Conference continues to rock the Bowl Championship Series boat.

On the heels of Utah's undefeated season, which saw the Utes win the Sugar Bowl and finish No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll, the league is preparing to submit a proposal to BCS officials in the next couple of weeks calling for greater access to college football's big-money postseason system, MWC commissioner Craig Thompson said Friday.

Thompson spent Thursday and Friday in Washington, D.C., discussing the shortcomings of the BCS with senior staffers of legislators who would also like to see changes in the BCS.

What's more, the league has hired a lobbying firm based in Washington, D.C., to assist in the process.

"We're simply here to educate, inform and make awareness about the BCS," Thompson said. "I'm not certain that we're ultimately looking for government intervention; we're trying to raise public awareness. We're going to try and work within the system. Our proposal is going to go to the BCS commissioner."

The MWC is one of five conferences without an automatic bid to the BCS, along with the WAC, Conference USA, Sun Belt and MAC. While the MWC is the only one involved in formally asking for changes in the BCS, Thompson said the proposal would benefit the other non-qualifying leagues.

"We're trying to help our cause and the cause of other conferences," he said.

Suddenly, the MWC is developing a reputation as a renegade. Thompson announced Friday that the league has not signed the latest BCS television contract with ESPN that is set to run from 2011-14 (the previous pact was with Fox). The other 10 leagues that comprise the Football Bowl Subdivision are reportedly all on board with the deal.

Thompson knows that the MWC's efforts are ruffling the feathers of those who oversee the automatic qualifying conferences.

"We're not the most popular kid in the room. We understand that," Thompson said. "But we feel that we're trying to help college football, fans and basically institute a more equitable system for the entire populace of college football."

While Thompson declined to get into the specifics of the proposal, it's likely that the MWC will state the case that it deserves an automatic BCS berth. Or it could propose that one automatic bid should be reserved for non-qualifying conferences.

The way it stands now, a team from a non-BCS conference must finish in the top 12 of the BCS standings to earn an automatic BCS bid, or be ranked in the top 16 and higher than a champion from one of the automatic qualifying leagues.

Twice in the last five years, Utah has posted a perfect season and has played in, and won, a BCS bowl game.

In the future, Thompson would like to see non-BCS teams compete for college football's highest prize.

"Why are we not in consideration to play in the national championship game?" Thompson said. "Technically, we have access. Realistically, we don't. It's very difficult for a team from the Mountain West that's undefeated to reach the national championship game."

E-mail: jeffc@desnews.com

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