UNLV or San Jose State would be the likely team left out of a postseason berth. Also, we hand out all-league honors
By Taylor Bern
Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson isn’t optimistic that all seven of the league’s bowl-eligible football teams will play in a bowl game.
“I don’t think it will happen,” Thompson said this afternoon on a conference call.
The league has six bowl tie-ins, more than ever before, but it also has more teams eligible than ever before. In its first season with 12 teams, seven of them made it to at least 6-6 thanks to San Jose State’s 62-52 upset against Fresno State. That game set off a domino effect that cost every team in the league a cut of the Bulldogs’ potential BCS payout money and will likely leave one team, maybe even the Spartans, with no game to play in.
“This is not the year to have extra bowl eligible teams,” Thompson said. “In all reality, one is probably not going to be playing in a bowl game.”
The problem isn’t just that the Mountain West has more eligible teams than normal, so does the rest of the country. The last three seasons there have been 72 bowl eligible teams for 70 spots. This season there are still 70 slots for teams, but there are already 77 eligible teams with the chance for three more to get there this weekend.
Thompson acknowledged that there’s interest in moving Boise State to a bowl outside of the Mountain West’s six, but that requires one of those games with a spot to fill to select the Broncos over a field that includes three extra ACC teams and two extra Pac-12 squads.
If Boise State doesn’t move to one of those national bowls, then a Mountain West team is all but assured to be left out. That would most likely be either UNLV (7-5) or San Jose State (6-6). Bowl directors aren’t required to pick based on record.
“Seven wins are more than six wins, but those are decisions the bowls will have to make,” Thompson said.
He said the bowls factor in things like past experience — and attendance at those previous games — plus geography and other factors. UNLV and Colorado State (7-6) are the only eligible teams that didn’t play in a bowl game last season.
Assuming Boise State stays in the Mountain West’s games, the decision will come down to four teams for three games — the New Mexico, Hawaii and Famous Idaho Potato bowls. All three games, plus the Las Vegas and Armed Forces bowls, are owned by ESPN Regional Television, meaning that group will work with the individual bowl directors to make their most desired matchups.
Conversations will continue throughout the week but the eligible teams may not get a final answer until this weekend.