Football

Boise State coach wanted to leave Mountain West

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Boise State coach Bryan Harsin did not want his school to be a part of the Mountain West Conference after it decided to postpone the 2020 football season.

According to emails obtained by BoiseDev and the Idaho Press, Harsin emailed athletic director Curt Apsey and university president Marlene Tromp on Sept. 11 after a call among Mountain West schools. The conference postponed its season indefinitely in August because of the COVID-19 pandemic and announced in late September that it was beginning the season on Oct. 24.

“That leads into the conference conversation that we need to address again and for as long as it takes to put a plan together to move,” Harsin wrote. “NOW is the time! The longer it takes the longer we stay in the MW. I am 1000% convinced we need to make this move for football and if that means other sports too in the long run it will be what’s best for this University.

“I understand there are risks and budgets and travel costs that’s all real to me. I also know that’s exactly why Boise State is the program it is today because we took risks necessary to grow our program.”

Boise State is currently 4-0 in the Mountain West and 4-1 overall. The Broncos’ last two games have been canceled because of COVID-19 cases and contact tracing.

Where would Boise State have gone?

The Broncos have become one of the most prominent football teams outside of a Power Five conference because of their success over the last two decades. The team is the crown jewel of the Mountain West and even has a special clause in the conference’s television contract.

But there’s no obvious conference fit if Boise wanted to leave the MWC. The Pac-12 would be the most logical geographic fit but it’s not expanding anytime soon. And the Big 12 doesn’t seem keen on expanding either.

So where in the heck could Boise State have gone? According to the emails, school officials reached out to the West Coast Conference and the Big West Conference. Neither of those conferences are at the top level of college football. If Boise State went to either of them it would have to join a conference as a football-only member or make the football team an independent.

At the moment, there’s no indication that Boise State is leaving the Mountain West anytime soon.

Bryan Harsin and Boise State is currently 4-1. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Boise State left the WAC in 2010

You may remember that Boise State switched football conferences a decade ago when it left the WAC. In the crazy round of conference expansion in the early 2010s that saw Missouri and Texas A&M head to the SEC, Nebraska go to the Big Ten and Colorado go to the Pac-12, Boise State signed up to play football in the Big East in 2011. The move came as Boise State had won 10 or more games in five consecutive seasons and went 14-0 in 2009 after beating TCU in the Fiesta Bowl.

But the Big East fell apart before the Broncos ever played a game in the conference. That Big East agreement led to the special deal the school was able to negotiate with the Mountain West and the school has played in the conference ever since.

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