No wonder half the college football world refuses to take the Western Athletic and Mountain West conferences seriously.
On the table Wednesday was the Bowl Championship Series' new four-year deal with ESPN, which will pay roughly $500 million for television, radio and digital rights to BCS games beginning after the 2010 regular season. Even if none of their teams made it to a BCS game, the WAC and Mountain West each could get about $11 million over the life of the deal, which in reality amounts to table scraps.
By refusing to agree to the deal, WAC and Mountain West teams would not have been allowed to participate in the five BCS games and would not have been eligible for a cut of the yearly $125 million payment. But credibility often comes with a price, and the leagues would have gained considerable clout in their fight to change the system by saying no.
Instead, they decided to take the money and run.
"The repercussions were just too dramatic and too costly," Boise State president Bob Kustra said. "Can you really take that chance?"
The answer is yes, you take that chance.
Consider that much of the WAC's reputation has been built by taking an unconventional approach, right down to the blue turf of Boise State's Bronco Stadium.
In the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, Boise State stunned Oklahoma, 43-42, with a dazzling array of trick plays, topped by Ian Johnson's winning two-point conversion on a Statue of Liberty play. The following season, Hawaii made its run to the Sugar Bowl with Colt Brennan passing on nearly every down.
But when WAC presidents were given the ball Wednesday, they pulled a Woody Hayes, voting unanimously to accept the table scraps.
The Mountain West has been squawking ever since Utah beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, saying the Utes deserved a shot at the BCS title. The squawking could be heard all the way to Washington, but when it was time to take a stand, Mountain West presidents took a knee.
The leagues say they will continue to fight the system, which is laughable. It's impossible to change the system when you're part of it.