FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — As their president ponders where they’ll end up when the conference realignment dust settles, No. 5 Boise State has one goal in mind: storming through its inaugural season in the Mountain West Conference and securing another BCS bowl berth.
The Broncos took a big first step Saturday, routing Colorado State 63-13 in their MWC debut Saturday when they set a school record with 742 yards of offense thanks to seven touchdown drives that took less than two minutes.
Even before kickoff of their inaugural league game, however, there were rumblings the Broncos, who left the Western Athletic Conference after a decade of dominance, would be bolting again — this time to a reconfigured Big East. That conference could issue them a football-only invitation as soon as next week.
The Broncos would need reassurances of the Big East’s long-term health and they’d be particularly interested in marquee member West Virginia’s status.
Boise State president Robert Kustra told The Associated Press the school’s best option might be staying in the Mountain West, which is joining forces with Conference USA to secure a solid future in the rapidly changing college football landscape. But Kustra stressed that his top priority is to get the Broncos as close as possible to an automatic qualifying status in the BCS, so he’s keeping all his options open.
“We are not on any kind of urgent timetable,” Kustra said. “We really enjoy where we are and it’s important for us to take advantage of the rest of this season. I mean, let’s face it, if we take care of the rest of this season, we’re going to a postseason bowl, a BCS bowl. And that’s not exactly too shabby an existence in the year 2011.
“And we’re going to do everything we can to capitalize on that. But in the meantime, if we look down the road beyond 2011 and toward 2013, we’d like to be affiliated with an AQ conference, and with that as our objective, we have to keep these options on the table.”
Coach Chris Petersen said none of this talk is distracting his players or staff.
“Not even the slightest. Not even kind of,” Petersen insisted. “The guys that are going to make the decision are going to make a great decision for Boise State. We have 100 percent confidence in that. And that’s why it doesn’t distract us in the slightest. We’re just playing this season.”
“We don’t talk about it,” quarterback Kellen Moore said of the Big East rumors. “We don’t care about it.”
Because, he said, the Broncos have their sights set squarely on mastering the Mountain West, and next week they host Air Force, when he can tie Colt McCoy’s NCAA record of 45 wins by a starting quarterback.
If the Big East invites them, the Broncos aren’t going to just jump at the offer.
“It’s tough to lay out the timetable. I have a board that I report to so I’d have to go to my board,” Kustra said. “We’d have to have many discussions with our staff, with the athletic director, with the coaches, it’s a process that’s going to … that would take a little bit of time, and I don’t think it’s anything that we can do overnight.”
The Broncos also would have to find another home for their other sports because Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said Friday that Boise State is either all in or all out.
“That’s another reason why it’s not going to happen overnight,” Kustra said.
As the belle of the ball, the Broncos could sit tight and keep their options open — they might eventually get invited to an even more enticing league.
“We can only hope for bigger and better things,” wide receiver Tyler Shoemaker said, “but right now we’re in our conference and we’re going to do our best.”