"The Commish" Holds Court...

"The Commish" Holds Court...

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Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson met the media over the course of more than an hour this morning here in Las Vegas on the second and final day of Media Days.


You will see two audio files in the "Cougar Cuts" box to the right--one from his 40-minute podium Q and A session with assembled media, and the other from a 30-minute sit-down with reporters.

The one-on-one sit-down session begins with me asking about the personal motivation behind his contract extension, relative to the fight to "bust" the BCS.

On a follow-up, he states clearly that much of his professional drive is geared toward seeing this particular quest to what he hopes is a positive conclusion, with the MWC ultimately gaining BCS "Automatic Qualifier" status.


Thompson touches on a variety of issues over both sessions, and while not much "news" was made, there were a few things that jumped out at me.

"The Commish" Holds Court...

In encourage you to listen to both files in their entirety, if you have the time--I think you'll gain an appreciation and insight into the challenges facing the Mountain West as they relate to the modern-day BCS landscape.

Among the notable tidbits:

A reminder that the non-BCS Mountain West Conference is second among all conferences nationally in producing #1 overall draft picks in the NFL, NBA and MLB, over the last five years.

A reiteration that the MWC is currently performing at an "Automatic Qualifier" level--now the challenge is to remain there for three more years (when the next qualification evaluation will be made).

The primary rationale for re-signing the latest BCS contract was a desire not to deny the league's student-athletes the opportunity to play postseason football at its highest level under the only system currently available to those players.

The MWC "will have" five bowls into the foreseeable future. Four of them are currently situated in MWC cities, and a fifth bowl will be negotiated--whether in Boise or somewhere else.

Based on Thompson's comments, I would be stunned if the Las Vegas Bowl (aka Maaco Bowl Las Vegas) selects BYU again this season. He strongly hinted that it is not in the interest of BYU or the bowl to have one time appear as many as four times in four years.

Thompson says ESPN holds no ill will toward the MWC, and had the league been experiencing its curent level of sucess afew years ago, the network might have been more willing to pay what the league was asking. He noted that should a league broadcast partner (i.e. Versus) opt out of its MWC college football package, an entity such as ESPN could conceivably become re-involved with the league on that limited basis. He was quick to add that he doesn't foresee this happening, but offered it as a "for whatever reason" scenario.

The MWC actually proposed a conference "winner take all" revenue distribution among the other four non-AQ conferences, for conferences whose teams play in a BCS game, as Utah has done twice. Thompson says he was out-voted on that proposal 4-to-1, the other leagues opting to continue with the current non-AQ revenue-sharing format.

On expansion, the league has assessed Boise State (and other non-BCS schools) relative to their football performance components, and even with BSU's recent success, the MWC has determined that the addition of Boise State would not directly result in AQ status for the Mountain West. Thompson said if any potential expansion models were to result in AQ status, the league would expand, but that no such current motivation exists.


On a non-football note, this town is crawling with basketball players and coaches. There are five AAU Tournaments spread across town, and just on the short walk from my hotel elevator to the parking garage, I encountered coaches from BYU, DePaul, Oklahoma, Mississippi State, and Western Kentucky.

On that note, Dave Rose will arrive in Las Vegas on Thursday to watch some games during his first recruiting trip since cancer surgery.

Kyle Collinsworth's AAU team is one the hundreds of squads in Las Vegas, and it's clear that BYU's number one signing priority is to ink Chris Collinsworth's younger brother. There are rumblings he could make his college commitment in the next two weeks, before his high school senior year begins.


Team USA Baskebtall is holding a 23-player mini-camp in Vegas this week, with players reporting later today. Utah Jazz players Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap and Ronnie Brewer are on the roster comprised of young NBA players, and Jazz assistant Ty Corbin is on the coaching staff.


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