Boise State will join conference in football in 2013, along with four other schoolsBOISE — Boise State president Bob Kustra called it “a Christmas present,” though it was one that sat under the tree for quite a while before it could be opened. Reports emerged two months ago about a potential move by the Boise State football team into the Big East Conference, and it was something Kustra publicly pined for the last month. On Wednesday, it became official –—the Broncos will leave the Mountain West for the Big East in 2013. “A good number of you have speculated why something could possibly take so long, and I’ve wondered that myself many times,” Kustra said to a media gathering. “The fact is, there’s been considerable due diligence applied to this decision. This is an important decision. It’s one we’re going to live with.” The conference announced the Broncos, along with San Diego State, will join as footballonly members, while Central Florida, Houston and SMU will join in all sports. The move not only expands Boise State’s reach, and Kustra’s goal of spreading the Broncos’ brand, but also gives the Big East reach across the country. “Four different time zones will also allow us the potential to schedule four football games on a given Saturday back-toback-to-back-to-back without any overlap,” commissioner John Marinatto said. “It’s a powerful model and one that we believe will be unmatched by any other conference.” Boise State will be part of a west division that will include San Diego State, Houston, SMU and current members Cincinnati and Louisville. The Big East has lost a commitment from TCU to join in 2012 and also has seen Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia declare their intent to leave. The conference has a 27-month departure notice, and Marinatto spoke Wednesday hoping to keep all three through 2013, making a 13-team football conference. Even if all three leave before the Broncos join, they’ll be in a five-team division, with Cincinnati moving to the east, according to Kustra, though Marinatto and BSU interim athletic director Curt Apsey said that has not been decided. Marinatto said with six-team divisions, there will be five conference games in the division, and three against teams from the other. He also said the conference is still looking into adding schools, mainly in the west. “Growing our football program is something that we are always working on, and joining the Big East Conference will help us do just that,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said in a statement. “This move is going to be great for our program.”Petersen said in October “if the money thing all makes sense … then you take the next step.” On Monday, he railed against the BCS system and its flaws in passing over the Broncos. On Wednesday, television revenue and automatic-qualifying status were prime discussion points. Under the Mountain West television contract, schools receive approximately $1.5 million apiece in TV revenue, but Big East schools currently get about $3.7 million. The conference currently has tie-ins with ESPN and CBS, while the Mountain West is on lower-tier networks. The Big East television deal will be re-negotiated next summer. “I’ve heard from a half-dozen people … and $6 million (per year) was always used as the floor — and then going up to perhaps anywhere from $10-12 (million),” Kustra said. The Big East’s champion this year, West Virginia, at No. 23, is the lowest-ranked team in the BCS standings going to a bowl since the conference champ gets an automatic berth. Connecticut, last year’s champ, was unranked in the BCS. The conference received a waiver for the 2008 and 2009 seasons after lackluster showings, but teams like West Virginia helped provide some stability. Now that West Virginia (three BCS berths) and Pittsburgh (one) are departing, some have questioned if the league will maintain its status as a BCS automatic-qualifying conference when the BCS is re-evaluated after the 2013 season. With Boise State’s top 10 finishes in recent years, along with Houston’s top 20 finish this year, keep AQ status in the future. “We recognize obviously the departure of the schools leaving the conference affected us,” Marinatto said. “But we always felt confident that if we made the right moves, we would keep our BCS AQ status and we’ve done that.” Even though the league now stretches from San Diego up to Boise, down to Tampa, Fla., and east to Storrs, Conn., it will remain the Big East. “If a conference called the Big Ten can have 12 schools, a conference called the Big East can have schools that are not necessarily in the east,” Marinatto said. Boise State accepted a Mountain West invitation hours after receiving it. It was almost as quick to jump on the Big East offer, but this time, it had a long time to figure out if the gamble was worth it. The Bronco brass believes the risk is a calculated one with a big payoff. “This was 100 times more complicated,” Kustra said. “Mainly because it was footballonly … there were just so many other considerations.”
BCS isn’t changing yet, so BSU doesChris Petersen unleashed on the BCS on Monday because his team was denied access despite an 11-1 record and No. 7 national ranking. One day earlier, Dr. Robert Kustra dotted the I and crossed the T on a certain document with a different conference. It was time for change at Boise State. Enough was enough. If college football’s sacred system was not going to change, Boise State proved Wednesday it was. And it didn’t matter if the Broncos had to pack up and travel away from the comfort of their neighbors in the still-new Mountain West Conference. It didn’t matter that they had not completed one full football season in the conference. Boise State’s football coach, president and the Broncos are heading east, to join the Big East as football-only members.
“There’s no question that we’ve been frustrated over recent years, as to how the BCS has handled those who are not automatic qualifiers, but the time has come for us to deal with what we can control and not worry about the rest and I think it’s fair to say that’s why I’m on this teleconference today,” Kustra said during a press conference at the Allen Nobel Hall of Fame on the Boise State campus.
Boise State posted undefeated regular seasons in 2004 and 2008 and was left out of the five bigmoney bowls. The Broncos had one defeat during each of the past two seasons, yet they were left out of the BCS again. Enough was enough, and Kustra finally packed up his team and hauled them to the first available taker that could ensure a BCS bid for a conference champion. “Certainly we look forward to joining a conference with automatic qualifying status,” Kustra said. “And that was clearly one of the reasons that drove us to this decision. “That certainly was paramount given the frustrations we’ve experienced over the past few years.” The fret for some was if the BCS system would change, if the Big East would retain its automatic-qualifying status. Kustra didn’t waver Wednesday. “Even if AQ status changes, the value of the media contract and our ability to grow the football program as far as the Big East side of things is absolutely essential,” he said. “And that’s a major reason why we have moved in this direction. “I’m confident that these new schools going into the Big East will be a stronger candidate for continued AQ status, but again, no body can predict what’s going to happen in 2013 and beyond.” As frustrated as officials, coaches, and you can imagine players were the past few years, leaving the Mountain West in 2013 for the Big East was not the No. 1 priority for the departure. Money was. The Big East’s television contract pays its members more than double what the Broncos would have received in the Mountain West. And their new conference is getting ready to deal with media companies for a richer deal next September.Kustra said the bidding should start at $6 million per team and reach as high as $12 million. “I think it’s fair to say in my mind that was the most important consideration that we must take into account,” Kustra said.So, Boise State is not going to a BCS bowl game this season, but they are eventually going big, even if they have to travel to Piscataway, N.J. — to play Rutgers to do it. Even if they have to travel to Tampa, Fla. — to play South Florida to get it done. Even Storrs, Conn. — to face UConn for a fair shot. They’re leaving. They’ve made up their minds. Money, automatic BCS qualification and some more exposure along the way. And that won’t be the only change. When they return home for games at Bronco Stadium, there will be blue on the blue again. Boise State will return to freely wear whatever uniforms they want on their home turf. “Boise State is moving forward to put itself in a position for greater success,” Kustra said. Even if it’s in Louisville, Ky.