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Boise State’s power play: Belle of the ball or queen of last call?

Boise State won yet another bowl game Saturday afternoon, downing Washington out in the desert at the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. As tends to happen in the era of conference realignment, the action on the field had to share headlines with the action in the boardroom.

ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy, the realignment reporter of record, broke the news Saturday afternoon that Boise is playing the Mountain West and Big East against each other with a bid for control of its home television rights. It’s an audacious request that indicates Boise fully appreciates its leverage as the two conferences jockey for their potential survival. (According to Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com, the MWC feels confident about its status, with or without the Broncos.)

Boise has a strong football program at the moment that has grown from being a novelty into one with legitimate national cache. That in and of itself makes the school an appealing candidate for conferences on the level of the MWC and Big East.

Unfortunately for the Broncos, the things (or lack thereof) that make their recent success so impressive – population, money, tradition, academics, even weather – also make their staying power all the more elusive. History is littered with similarly situated programs that enjoyed a burst of success before fading back into the shadows with one false step. Take a look at Colorado ever since the good times stopped rolling under Gary Barnett, for example.

Those are also the reasons that conferences like the Pac-12 aren’t interested in adding the Broncos to their portfolio. In reality, Boise is asking for the moon not because of the value it brings to the table, but because it knows that it may holds the fate of the two leagues in its hands.

No one should fault the school for taking an opportunity like this to maximize its position in the conference meet market. But even though Boise may be prettiest girl in the room, the Broncos appear to have mistaken being the best of what’s around at closing time with being a “10.”

Boise’s membership at this particular moment in time may ensure the survival of the Mountain West or Big East for the time being. Even so, the members of any league that would accept such a deal should consider whether that conference is even worth keeping around.

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