MWC Commissioner says he ‘wore out phone’ trying to get Pokes bowl invite
LAS VEGAS -- Craig Thompson said he hates making that call.
You know, the one where you tell a bowl-eligible team that they aren't invited? Just like the one the Mountain West commissioner made to Wyoming Athletics Director Tom Burman last November after the Cowboys closed out the regular season 6-6 overall and riding a four-game winning streak.
Thompson talked about television contracts -- he wants more revenue -- and the positives that come with streaming games online or social media, saying how they are "kind of fun." Nothing is set in stone on either of those topics. He was asked whether or not any current league member is seeking an exit from the conference.
He said he hasn't heard a word, but if they do, there won't be an exit fee and "we will wish them well."
How about expansion?
That, he said, is not on the docket, though he did describe the 2017-2018 courting of Mark Few's Gonzaga basketball team as a little more serious than many thought. He said it looked good "until the 11th hour." Thompson was in San Antonio attending the Final Four.
Heck of a place to get that bad news, huh? He thought so.
He wants earlier kickoff times in football. Better times equal butts in stadium seats. Right now, that decision is in the hands of the television networks.
"It's really going to be a compromise at the end of the day," Thompson said Tuesday morning from behind the podium at MWC Media Days in Las Vegas.
Boise State is still getting a larger chunk of the pie than the other 12 football members, and Thompson said he is "very confident" that the MWC is still a major player when it comes to bowl games. He said the league will send six teams -- at least -- bowling this winter. That, he said, will run through the 2025 season.
Back to last year though.
I wanted to know why the Cowboys did not get an invite and what he did as the MWC leader to prompt bowl officials into selecting Wyoming.
"We had a couple of bowls that were very, very, very interested in Wyoming," Thompson said, adding that three other Division-I teams finished the 2018 campaign with six wins and didn't receive an invite. "Because of deal making contractually -- I think ESPN owns 13, 14 bowls -- they had to play certain conference teams that were eligible in those games even though they might have wanted Wyoming with their traveling fan base."
What did he do behind the scenes?
"You just wear it out," he said of the phone calls he made. "(I had) conversations with ESPN and various bowls, just making the case, pleading the case, of why they should take a look at this team."
How did BYU end up in the Potato Bowl, a game typically reserved for a MWC team?
"We left the Potato Bowl to go to Fort Worth," Thompson said. "That was our deal."
"I got that a lot," he said. "Wyoming people were saying 'what an idiot. He let, of all people, BYU (go to Boise?)'
The conference went 3-4 in bowl games last season, with Fresno State, Utah State and Nevada picking up wins. Boise State's game against Boston College was cancelled.