SAN DIEGO — The Mountain West Conference is focusing less on the mountain and more on the West. It’s no longer proclaiming itself to be above the rest.
The conference unveiled a new logo and slogan on Monday as it prepares to lose Utah and BYU and add high-profile Boise State to its lineup of schools for 2011.
In 2012, the Mountain West will lose TCU and gain Hawaii in football only, and Nevada and Fresno State in all sports.
The new logo is a block MW in purple and gray that has a 3-D look to it, and doesn’t include the word “conference.” The new slogan is “This is our time.” The old one was “Above the rest,” which had as much to do with the altitude of several of its schools as anything else.
The logo—which looks the same right-side up or upside down—even has a nickname: “The Rock,” because it supposedly invokes comparisons to the Rock of Gibraltar.
Commissioner Craig Thompson said the league’s message goes beyond the new logo and slogan.
“Don’t forget about us,” he said.
Thompson pointed out that the seven teams from non-automatic qualifying conferences that have played in BCS bowl games have either played in the Mountain West or will be in the Mountain West. Utah, Boise State and TCU each have made two BCS appearances, and Hawaii, one.
“I’ve heard this a lot, and that’s part of the reason for the re-branding, to get after it, was, ‘Gosh, the league was really moving and cooking and going, and three consecutive BCS (appearances), and now your best institutions, your best teams, left,” Thompson said.
“That’s not true. I liken it to this: In 2005, was Utah necessarily on the national scene as a college football power? If you answered ‘Yes,’ I’ll say you’re nuts. But they went to the Fiesta Bowl with Alex Smith and so then they got going a little bit. TCU, prior to Gary Patterson, had a couple decades of losing records. In the last 12 years they’ve been really good, and the last three or four years, they’ve been a Top 10 program. And so, it’s happened before, why can’t it maintain?”
Utah, the first BCS buster, is joining the new Pac-12. BYU is going independent in football and joining the West Coast Conference in all other sports. TCU will remain with the Mountain West this fall before joining the Big East, which has an automatic BCS berth. TCU lost to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl in 2010 and beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.
“Our goal 12 years ago, and remains today, is to be an automatic qualifier annually in the BCS,” Thompson said. “And so we’re trying to get the best we can in the football programs to get to that point.”
Boise State President Robert Kustra said the Broncos were excited to be joining the MWC.
“First of all, the quality of competition we’re going to be facing in this new conference, I cannot say enough about it,” he said. “We’re also excited about the fact that following us will be some of our more familiar competitors, Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada. And if I can be generous about Nevada after last year, then, boy, I’ll tell you, I must be excited about the Mountain West Conference.”
On Nov. 26, Nevada made up a 17-point halftime deficit and stunned then-No. 3 Boise State 34-31 in overtime to end any hopes the Broncos had of playing in the BCS title game.
On Jan. 1, 2007, the Broncos played one of the most memorable college football games ever, beating Oklahoma 43-42 in OT in the Fiesta Bowl.
“Hey, we’ve got a lot to work with,” Thompson said. “We’re not going to change. We’re going to be aggressive, we’re going to promote and we’re going to hopefully win at the same high level.”
As for the logo, Thompson said it looks the same from both sides of a field or court as opposed to the old logo, which featured mountains and the words “Mountain West.”
The logo is supposed to be strong and bold, and Thompson said the league wanted to have some fun with it and make it different.
“This is going to take time,” he said about the logo catching on. “This is the fear that every time you bring this out, people say, ‘That sucks’ or ‘That’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen.’ Whenever you make a change like that it’s going to be a little different.”