A future Big East matchup...in Idaho (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)
Hey, Boise is east of the Pacific! It counts!
Seriously though, the Idaho State Board of Education gave Bob Kustra, Boise State president, permission to pursue conference changes for the Broncos, likely to become a football-only member of the Big East (as for the rest of their sports, who knows). The move will likely not be complete until July 1st, 2013 because if Boise should make a BCS game this season, a move to the Big East for 2012 could cost the Broncos as much as $21 million to leave the Mountain West.
Obviously, there are clear benefits for Boise State to leave the Mountain West. While the Big East is considered a weaker football conference than the Mountain West, the conference does have an AQ bid still while the Mountain West may never get one. Without the new media deal, Big East schools already make an average of around $2 million more per year than MWC schools. That number only figures to increase with the media deal negotiations beginning next fall.
The main disadvantages are obvious. Travel costs are going to be expensive. Boise, because of it's relatively remote location, will pay around $200,000-$300,000 for charter flights for football annually should they join the Big East. There's also no schools currently that BSU fans can drive to easily for road games (that may change if BYU were to join as a football-only member, but don't bet on it). Another concern is what will Boise State do with their other sports - particularly men's basketball. They would be leaving a very solid men's hoops league in the Mountain West for potentially one-bid leagues like the Big West or the Big Sky. That's a huge drop in competition for a program that won 20 games last season (albeit in the WAC).
What could this mean for the Panthers? Well, if Big East commissioner John Marinatto were to have his way (and no Pitt, Syracuse, or WVU fans hope he will), Pitt could potentially (read: likely) be playing Boise State on the Smurf Turf for one season before leaving for greener pastures in the ACC. But the hope is that with this impending move in combination with likely moves by UCF, SMU, Houston, Air Force, Navy, and one other, the Big East will be willing to let the 3 departing schools leave in 2013 (when all the new members will be able to join the Big East). WVU can sue the conference all they want, but if the Big East can't find members to replace the three schools for 2012, there's no chance that they will be willing to let one school leave. First off, if even one school leaves, the conference falls below the NCAA's guideline for a viable conference and the Big East could potentially lose it's BCS bid. Second, if one school leaves, all three are leaving and the Big East knows this ... which is why Pitt's move to the ACC, as much as we want it sooner, will not be until July 1, 2013 at the earliest.