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Waters not enthusiastic about Mountain West's agenda

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Waters not enthusiastic about Mountain West's agenda

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Waters not enthusiastic about Mountain West's agenda
February 20, 2009 7:00 PM
Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

Wright Waters doesn't want the Mountain West to get the seventh automatic BCS bid.

The Sun Belt Commissioner said that if the BCS had seven automatic bids, it would shut the rest of the non-automatic qualifying schools out of potential BCS bowls.

"There are only 10 slots," Waters said. "If you go from six to seven automatic qualifiers then you're filling three at-large spots rather than four. And when you've only got four, every one of them is important. I am not in favor of a seventh automatic qualifying team."

Waters, who has been the Sun Belt commissioner for 10 years, was not aware of Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson's trip to Washington this week, but was disheartened by the fact that government is starting to get involved in college football.
He also fears for his own conference. It already has limited bowl opportunities and he doesn't want to see any of those disappear because they produce much-needed money for the Sun Belt.

"I always hope the 11 [commissioners] are smart enough and the relationship is such that we could sit down and work through our problems," Waters said. "Sometimes, there aren't solutions to our problems and then we just have to figure out the best way to mitigate the damage.

"I was a political science major and I must have missed or not read the part where the BCS was mentioned in the constitution."

The Mountain West was the best of the non-automatic qualifying conferences this year. Three of its teams – Utah, TCU and BYU – finished with double-digit wins and ranked in the Top 25. Thompson said during Friday's teleconference that the conference has six years worth of progress that shows that it's deserving of an automatic bid.

But a closer look at the last six years shows that although the Mountain West has had four winning nonconference seasons during the past six years, it hasn't exactly fared well against the conferences that already have automatically qualifying bids until recently.

The Mountain West doesn't have a winning record against any of the major conferences in 10 total years of competition. Teams such as TCU (15-3 since joining the MWC in 2005) and Utah (34-12) have carried the conference during the nonconference schedule. Meanwhile, teams such as San Diego State (11-32), UNLV (20-22), New Mexico (21-27) aren't holding up their end of the bargain especially since those records include games against other non-automatic qualifying schools and FCS teams.

Up until this season, the Mountain West had struggled mightily against ranked teams outside of its own conference. According to the Mountain West media guide, BYU, New Mexico, San Diego State and Wyoming have never beaten a ranked foe outside of conference play.
"In my mind, if you are what you say you are, why do you need an automatic qualifier?" Waters said. "If you are as good as you say you are then you don't need the protection of an automatic qualifier. Let's put the best 10 teams in there. If that makes someone nervous that we're going down the playoff road, I'm sorry. But what are we trying to do? I think that's where the BCS historically has said its just trying to match No. 1 and 2 and everything else is just for fun. But the automatic qualifier piece just has a lot of pinnacles to it."

Waters doesn't resist change. In fact, he called the BCS an evolving process that probably needed to generate more opportunities for the current non-automatic qualifying schools in the coming years. That process already has begun with the current evaluation period that could both add and subtract automatic qualifiers from the various FBS conferences.

But Waters' point is that the evolution of college football is not just about one conference, but the sport as a whole.

"Three years ago, our five conferences weren't part of it and I think as people look back, it's been a very good move," Waters said. "But maybe it's time for further evolution. But that's something that has to work out in the best interest in the majority of the schools, I think.

"I don't know what [the Mountain West's] plan is and any time you take on a project of this magnitude, you better have a really good exit strategy because at the end of the day, the BCS is still a voluntary organization. Our leagues volunteer to be part of it. I think when you join a club, you also subscribe to the club's rules."

My two favorite teams are FAU, and who ever is beating FIU!
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