The Sports Guy is currently sitting in a terminal at Denver International Airport. I thought about trying to hitch a ride with Auston Carter and see if there was room on the flight to Poland, but had some doubts as to whether or not my chiseled physique would pass for a wrestler.
Instead, I'm thumb-twiddling and flipping through sports publications to kill a two-hour layover. It appears that all is not well in Big 12 land. In fact, it resembles the deck of the Titanic.
As many of you who pay attention to national sports broadcasts might be aware, the Big 10 opened a can of worms by stating earlier this year that it would like to invite as many as five other schools to join its party. Apparently feeling left out, the PAC-10 is evidently willing to kick things into nuclear escalation mode by offering spots to six of the Big 12 members.
More telling, nobody seems to be in a rush to deny that little rumor.
So, imagine if you will, a landscape where the Big 12 is suddenly the Big Four and Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor and Iowa State are attempting to ascertain the license number of the truck that just hit them. Wyoming better start taking notice.
Don't think for a second the Big 10 and PAC-10 could expand without repercussion. The Southeast and ACC would quickly plunder Big East leftovers and possibly a Conference USA school or two.
Let's face it. The Mountain West Conference is already starved for attention and kicking at the door of the BCS to be let in.
If you think that door is hard to get open right now, just imagine how things will be when two-thirds of Division I football schools and virtually all of the “power players” are consolidated into four super-conferences, each complete with their own multi-million dollar television network.
Notre Dame might be able to tred water in such an environment. Wyoming cannot. And don't even try convincing me that The Mountain deserves mention in the same breath as the Big Ten Network.
Wyoming and the rest of the Mountain West can hardly afford to wait around and see where the dust settles after the initial wave of conference expansions. Acting is far better than reacting in this case.
If Boise State and Nevada aren't already on the Mountain West speed dial, now's the time to start pushing digits and making an offer. Send a call out to Fresno State and San Jose State as well — there are a lot of television sets in California, and the Mountain West's largest downfall at present is its lack of media share compared to BCS leagues.
For that same reason, if Baylor really is left out in the cold, the MWC might want to give the Bears a look. A second Texas presence would keep TCU from feeling lonely and also could help add more market share. As a league, I'm not sure where you go from there, but I'd be making those phone calls long before the folks over in the Western Athletic Confernece ponder making a grab for Colorado State, TCU, BYU, Utah, UNLV and San Diego State.
Beyond shuffling chairs on the conference deck, though, Wyoming needs to have a worst-case scenario plan. What is the school prepared to do in a landscape where four superconferences rule the NCAA landscape?
By all indications, it isn't a question of “if” massive conference realignment is coming to the NCAA's upper ranks. It is only a question of “when” and “how.”
Even though Wyoming and the Mountain West Conference aren't standing on the front lines in this change discussion, any actual changes will inevitably sweep through every league and every program in college football's bowl subdivision. The best thing Wyoming and the MWC can do right now is be proactive and start laying a plan so that we have options when the official membership offers start to fly.