The television money might not be the best in the Mountain West, but the conference sure has gone out of its way to help out Air Force through the years. The academy, and particularly superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, value loyalty, which might be one reason Air Force is leaning towards staying in the Mountain West.
Last night during a long Q and A session with folks on Twitter, I pointed out the ways the conference has assisted Air Force through the years. Here’s a short recap:
- The MW agreed to do an eight-game conference schedule in football when it planned to have 10 teams, instead of the obvious nine-game round robin slate. That was primarily for Air Force (which has Navy and Army in nonconference and badly wants scheduling flexibility).
- The MW has annually tweaked its schedule to let Air Force play Navy and Army first weekends of October and November. AFA plays a conference game every year in Week 2. That’s not a huge deal, but the conference has been flexible for Air Force (and it is probably a big deal to whatever conference opponent that has to play the Falcons in the second game of the season).
- Air Force’s games against Army and Navy this season ended up on CBS, which was a huge exposure boost for AFA. The conference helped put that together with its television partners at CBS, knowing what the exposure means to Air Force.
- The past week provided another example. The Falcons wanted to go to the Military Bowl, which is not affiliated with the Mountain West, but had an opening because Navy was ineligible. Commissioner Craig Thompson worked with the league’s bowl partners, and eventually the Independence Bowl let the Falcons go. Coach Troy Calhoun and athletic director Hans Mueh both publicly thanked the conference in the last few days for the effort to get the Falcons into the Military Bowl.
“The conference was instrumental,” Calhoun said.
There are other instances but that list is a good indication of how the Mountain West values Air Force. No official decision has been made on Air Force’s conference future, but the Falcons have always expressed respect for the Mountain West. If Air Force stays in the Mountain West, the relationship between the school and the conference (and between Gould, the former chairman of the Mountain West’s board of directors, and Thompson) will be a major reason.