By Chadd Cripe
© 2013 Idaho Statesman
Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson took questions Monday on the media call for the conference championship football game.
He provided some insight into the Mountain West’s bowl situation.
Here are the highlights:
— Thompson doesn’t expect to find a home for the league’s seventh bowl-eligible team, which means somebody would be left out. The teams are Fresno State (10-1), Utah State (8-4), Boise State (8-4), San Diego State (7-5), UNLV (7-5), Colorado State (7-6) and San Jose State (6-6). The decision on who is left out would be left up to the bowl partners. They are not obligated to choose by record. “There have never been (eight) extra ( bowl-eligible teams),” Thompson said. “There could be three more with SMU, Rutgers and South Alabama. This is absolutely unheard-of territory. This is not the year to have extra bowl-eligible teams.”
— The Mountain West’s hopes of landing a seventh bowl spot could hinge on the popularity of Boise State. There are discussions of sending the Broncos to an outside bowl. Chances for that will go up if Rutgers and SMU lose this week, leaving the American short of eligible teams. “Boise State is extremely marketable and there has been some interest in putting them outside of the Mountain West bowls,” Thompson said. “… People are interested in Boise State.”
— The Mountain West does not expect to complete its bowl-selection process until late Saturday or early Sunday, after the Fresno State-Utah State championship game (8 p.m. MT, CBS). One reason is to buy the conference time to work on a seventh bowl. It doesn’t want to lock a team into a bowl and find out later that team could have gone elsewhere.
— After Las Vegas (No. 1) and Poinsettia (No.2), there is no pecking order for Mountain West bowls. However, the next four bowls are all owned by ESPN Regional Television, so they’ll work together to find the best matchups.
— Thompson said he’s 99 percent sure the Las Vegas Bowl will take the conference champion. That could get complicated if USC is the choice out of the Pac-12. USC already beat Utah State this season. The Trojans open next season against Fresno State — the same situation the bowl was in with Boise State-Washington last year.
Bowl-eligible teams by conference (bowl tie-ins in parentheses):
American (6): Four (SMU, vs. UCF, and Rutgers, vs. USF, could get there). The two bowls the American could vacate have backup agreements with conferences that have extra teams, so they don’t seem like options.
ACC (8): Eleven. Assuming the league gets two in the BCS, it will have two leftover teams.
Big 12 (7): Six. The Big 12 will vacate the Pinstripe Bowl in New York vs. American No. 4. This is considered a possible landing spot for Notre Dame.
Big Ten (8): Seven. Assuming the Big Ten gets two in the BCS, it will vacate the Little Caesars Bowl in Detroit vs. MAC No. 1 and the Heart of Dallas Bowl in Dallas vs. C-USA.
Conference USA (6): Eight. One extra team likely will replace the American in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala.
Independent (2): Three. Notre Dame is the leftover team. It will find a home.
MAC (4): Seven. The MAC also will fill a backup slot in Beef O’Brady’s and should get Northern Illinois into the BCS.
Mountain West (6): Seven. UNLV is the team most likely to get left out.
Pac-12 (7): Nine. Oregon State and either Arizona or Washington State likely would be left.
SEC (10): Ten. Assuming the SEC gets two teams into the BCS, it will vacate the Independence Bowl vs. ACC No. 7.
Sun Belt (2): Six (South Alabama, vs. La.-Lafayette, can get there). Could be an ugly bowl year for the Sun Belt.
So it looks like these games will be open:
Pinstripe, Little Caesars, Heart of Dallas, Independence.
Notre Dame, two Pac-12s, two ACCs, one Mountain West, one MAC, one C-USA and four Sun Belts.
So for Boise State to land in an outside bowl, two Pac-12/ACC teams would have to get left out.
The best chances?
The Independence Bowl already has an ACC team, so Boise State would have to beat out Oregon State and Washington State/Arizona there.
Or the Heart of Dallas Bowl, where the competition would come from the ACC and Pac-12.
Still, it seems unlikely the MW can get the extra bid.