Commentary: What if Boise State, BYU, TCU and Utah had all stayed in the Mountain West?
While fans of BYU, TCU and Utah may argue among themselves about who is better off, the sad truth of the situation is that all three teams have lost a considerable amount of national prestige since leaving the MWC. The only ones laughing at this mess are people like Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, who infamously hinted that TCU was akin to the "Little Sisters of the Poor."
Even Boise State has fallen from national grace. The Broncos finished with less than 10 wins for the first time in the Petersen era last season, and Petersen finally left for greener pastures at Washington. Who knows if his successor can rebuild Boise State to the heights that Petersen obtained.
That isn't to say that the Broncos, Cougars, Horned Frogs and Utes can't get things turned around. That said, all four programs face uphill battles. Boise State has to regain national acclaim without Petersen or nationally recognized competition in the MWC. BYU needs to find a way to play a hard enough schedule to earn national attention while having a good enough team to beat big-time teams.
Utah and TCU at least have the benefit of being in power conferences. However, both programs have to somehow compete with programs that will always have more money and bigger fan bases. Utah has to compete with the likes of USC, UCLA, Oregon and Stanford while TCU has to deal with Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Simply put, neither TCU nor Utah has the resources to dominate their new homes the same way they were able to do in the MWC.
Meanwhile, had those four teams stayed put in the MWC, they would likely have taken turns winning the conference. The conference would have had at least two ranked teams and maybe as many as four ranked teams in the final polls year in and year out. This foursome could have formed as fierce of a rivalry as exists in the FBS.
Now, the closest thing any of these four teams have to a rivalry these days is Utah's with Colorado.
The MWC could have talked its way into a better bowl deal under the new playoff system. It wouldn't have been as sweet as the Pac-12 or SEC would get, but it would likely be better than playing the fifth or sixth best team from the Pac-12 in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Unfortunately, that ship has sailed. The only team that might even consider coming back to the MWC is BYU. Of course, the Mountain West has only itself and its horrible TV deal to blame.
Lafe Peavler is a sports writer for the Deseret News.
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