Boise State deals another hit to Big East

A little more than a year ago, Boise State surveyed the college football landscape and made a head-scratching -- and completely unconventional move -- joining a league based 2,600 miles away for football only.

The bottom line then: The Big East offered the potential for an automatic bid into the BCS and much more money out of a renegotiated television contract, two major lifelines that would ensure the Broncos' national relevance into the future.

Today, Boise State surveyed the college football landscape and made yet another decision, a conventional one this time. The best program outside the automatic-qualifying conferences chose to spurn the Big East to stay in its current home, the Mountain West, a league that provides a better geographical fit, a spot for all its sports and the potential to earn much more money out of a renegotiated television deal.

In the end, Boise State had to do what was in its best interest. In this era, it is every program for itself and every coach and athletic director for himself. So while Boise State practiced a bit of self-preservation Monday, the Big East was dealt another blow, losing its 14th school in the past two years. Two of them -- Boise State and TCU -- never played a down.

San Diego State, which agreed to join the Big East in a package deal with Boise State, could be next. Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson confirmed Monday he has had discussions with the program about its remaining in the league.

Incredibly, realignment has changed the fortunes of both conferences.

The Big East had more marquee programs and that coveted automatic spot into the BCS. The Mountain West, however, was on the outside looking in and complained loudly about the unfairness of the current system, which did not grant the conference an automatic spot into the BCS.

But now, the marquee programs have left the Big East. Do you know what else is gone? Automatic-qualifying designations. Moving forward under the new playoff system, the highest-ranked champion among the Big East, MAC, Mountain West, Conference USA and Sun Belt will get an automatic spot into one of the six "access bowls." So that means the Mountain West is on equal footing as the Big East.

That was a factor in the decision. And so was television money. Given the hits the Big East has taken, there were no guarantees Boise State would make more in the Big East, having to travel thousands of miles to play the majority of its road football games. The television deal the Big East was so excited about renegotiating? Your guess on its value now is as good as mine.

As a way to keep Boise State in the fold, the Mountain West renegotiated its television deal with its primary network partner, CBS Sports Network. The league will guarantee the rights to Boise State home football games that are sold as a separate package. In addition, Boise State and other football teams in the Mountain West that appear on national television (ESPN, ESPN2, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox) will be paid a bonus of $300,000 per game, with an additional $200,000 for a Saturday game.

Wonder who will get the lion's share of those appearances?

Boise State finally got a deal that will help the program move forward. Unfortunately, the Big East takes another step back in the process.