Boise State's home-field advantage in MWC title game came via a contract provision

Fresno State’s Jeffrey Allison upends Boise State’s running back Alexander Mattison in Fresno, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian)

Boise State is hosting Saturday night’s Mountain West Championship Game via Fresno State because of the Broncos’ strength in computer rankings vs. Fresno State.

The two teams met in the final week of the regular season. Boise, at 9-2, entered the game at No. 23 in the College Football Playoff rankings. Fresno State was unranked. The Bulldogs won the game to move to 9-3 and knocked Boise State out of Tuesday’s rankings.

According to the Idaho Statesman, when Boise State signed its new contract with the Mountain West Conference in 2012, one of the provisions in the contract included that the highest-ranked CFP (then BCS) team hosted the conference title game. If there was no team in the rankings — or the team that was in the rankings entering the last week of the regular season lost and wasn’t going to be a part of them — then the computer rankings would be used.

The agreement includes four primary terms and a list of items under “other provisions.” The third such provision was that if the conference expanded to 12 football teams, “a conference championship game will be played at the home of the team with the highest BCS ranking as of a date specified by the MWC.”

The rules were adjusted when the College Football Playoff replaced the BCS. The home team is the division winner with the highest ranking in the CFP. If neither team is ranked when the regular season ends, or one team is ranked but is expected to lose that ranking (Boise State this year), then an average of four computer rankings is used, creating a BCS-like result.

That’s brutal for Freno State, which entered the CFP rankings on Tuesday night at No. 25. Had the Mountain West waited until Tuesday to use the rankings provision, the rematch (and a possible Las Vegas Bowl bid) is in Fresno.

But it’s logistically impossible to wait another 48 hours to decide the title game host. Had Boise won on Saturday, it would have been known immediately after the game that the title game would be in Boise. Since Fresno did, the computer rankings simulation was run Sunday morning and announced that day.

If the Sagarin ratings were used as one of the four computer rankings, Fresno State was at a large disadvantage.

But you can argue the rest of the conference is at a large disadvantage to Boise State anyway. The Broncos were a relatively hot commodity during conference realignment and were set to join the Big East in football before that conference completely imploded. To keep Boise in the Mountain West, the contract between the school and the conference also guarantees Boise State more television revenue than any of the other members and more influence in determining which games are in prime TV slots.

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