BOISE — A camera inside the Mountain West office probably would have shown commissioner Craig Thompson dancing and celebrating Friday morning.
After weeks of speculation and rumors about teams potentially leaving the Mountain West to join the American Athletic Conference, all 12 teams in the league confirmed to Thompson they would be staying.
Multiple reports including one from CBS Sports earlier this week said Air Force and Colorado State were heavily weighing an offer to join the AAC. Boise State and San Diego State also were courted by the AAC, according to reports, but weren’t as interested in leaving — at least right now.
Boise State athletic director Jeramiah Dickey acknowledged in a statement Friday there were ‘opportunities’ out there, but said the school remains committed to the Mountain West.
“I have consistently stated since arriving at Boise State that our institution is a proud member of the Mountain West, but we will always do our due diligence in regards to what is best for our department and University,” Dickey said. “While our on-field successes and positive trajectory of the University have created opportunities for us, we remain committed to the Mountain West.
“We will continue to work closely with our fellow members to strengthen and enhance the league as the landscape of intercollegiate athletics continues to evolve.”
Multiple reports say Boise State is waiting for a potential invite to join the Big 12 Conference, which could happen when Oklahoma and Texas end up leaving to join the SEC.
The Broncos wouldn’t have gained much by joining the AAC, which is severely watered down with the departures of UCF, Houston and Cincinnati to the Big 12.
The AAC is searching for replacements for those three, but now will have to add from Conference USA or the Sun Belt.
Staying intact at 12 teams makes the Mountain West the top Group of 5 conference moving forward, which could help Boise State’s chances of landing in a New Year’s Six bowl game or an expanded College Football Playoff.
“The success and positive trajectories of our respective members have created opportunities for many of our universities, yet we collectively believe in the strength and shared spirit of the Mountain West and in the future possibilities for our Conference,” the Mountain West said in a statement.
“Close collaboration will continue as we identify the best path forward for the Mountain West within the evolving landscape of intercollegiate athletics. That will include aggressively pursuing strategic initiatives and amplifying our collective brand.”
The Mountain West referred to itself as “the nation’s top Non-Autonomy Five conference” in the release. And it’s hard to argue after Friday’s news.
But things could and likely will change at some point in the future. And it all hinges on Boise State and whether or not an invitation to join the Big 12 comes in the next few years.
“Boise State is committed to excellence in all aspects of our University, including our athletics programs, and our commitment to — and investment in — our student-athletes, coaches and staff will only grow stronger,” Dickey said.
“We will not rest on our past successes. We will continue to build upon them in order to achieve epic results.”