Boise State fans with Saturday plans in late October, November and December may want to start looking to reschedule.
There’s likely going to be football to watch.
It’s a scenario nobody saw coming even 10 days ago, but one that’s becoming increasingly probable by the day — Boise State, back on The Blue, in a matter of weeks.
Multiple reports say Mountain West presidents could vote this week to approve a fall football season, roughly seven weeks after they voted to postpone it indefinitely. At the time nobody expected them to play until the spring, but recent developments — including new rapid COVID-19 testing options — appear to have swayed those within the league to speed up the timetable.
According to a report from Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports, the Mountain West is on the “cusp” of a fall season. According to his sources, league officials are “optimistic the league will vote this week for its football programs to return to the field.”
The report says the 12 athletic directors for Mountain West schools met Monday and discussed the final steps to return, “including a testing plan that involves frequent antigen testing.” The plan now must be approved by the league presidents, who are scheduled to meet on Friday but could vote sooner, according to Yahoo.
Brett McMurphy of Stadium, who was the first to report last week that the Mountain West was attempting to play this fall, reported late Monday that the league was “optimistic about playing an eight-game schedule starting Oct. 24, with presidents possibly voting Friday.”
A source told the Idaho Press on Tuesday that talk of a fall season starting Oct. 24 is “very real” and that a decision could come as early as this week.
A Mountain West Conference spokesman declined comment Tuesday.
An eight-game schedule starting Oct. 24 would allow for a conference championship game on Dec. 19, the day before the College Football Playoff committee selects the New Year’s Six Bowl participants. That would make Boise State and other league teams eligible for the spot given to the top-ranked Group of 5 team.
According to McMurphy, if the plan is not green-lighted by presidents this week, a seven-game season starting Oct. 31 would probably be the best they could do. That plan would still include a conference championship game on Dec. 19.
The College Football Playoff committee has not announced a minimum number of games required to be eligible for consideration, but it’s believed seven or eight games would both be enough.
There is a “sense of urgency” to vote and approve the plan, according to a source, so the Oct. 24 start date can still be achieved. It’s the preferred date because it would allow for a full, eight-game league schedule.
All 12 teams are hoping to play this fall, according to a source, but many schools including Fresno State, Hawaii and Air Force face challenges with local governments and travel restrictions. Air Force already has two games planned for this fall against Navy and Army. The Army game is slated for Nov. 7 and would have to be moved to accommodate a Mountain West game on that date.
If all 12 teams play, the same rotation of conference games would likely be used — meaning Boise State would host Utah State, Colorado State, San Jose State and UNLV and play at Air Force, Wyoming, New Mexico and Hawaii.
The Big Ten also plans to start Oct. 24, meaning the Mountain West, MAC and Pac-12 are currently the only leagues not scheduled to play this fall.
Recent momentum suggests that could soon change for the Mountain West.
It’s unknown if fans will be allowed inside Albertsons Stadium should the Broncos return this fall. They were originally planning for a socially-distanced crowd of about 25 to 30 percent capacity before the season was postponed.