TCU’s exit deals lethal blow to Mountain West Conference

Enjoy Fresno. I’m here all week. Don’t forget to tip your bartenders and waitresses.

On Monday, the Mountain West Conference became a punch line to a cruel joke when Texas Christian decided it would rather go 8-3 or 7-4 and still earn an automatic Bowl Championship Series berth than go 11-0, hope the stars and planets align and that Kirk Herbstreit is willing to pay extra to watch the Horned Frogs on his cable or satellite system, provided the games are available in the first place.

Take the money and run. Can’t blame TCU for that. Good luck against the University of Connecticut women, though.

Elvis has left the building, and now so has Gary Patterson.

With the announcement that TCU is leaving for the Big East comes the cold realization that the Mountain West has taken on the appearance of a frozen cornfield near Clear Lake, Iowa.

This was the day the music died.

TCU and fellow expatriates Utah and Brigham Young are Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. They are really Big Boppers when it comes to football, which is what it always comes to in college sports, except for an hour on Selection Sunday when the brackets are announced and Butler gets a five seed instead of a two.

Boise State must feel like Waylon Jennings, who gave up his seat on the plane.

First, the heartbreaking loss to UNR on Friday, now this. If Rose Bowl-itis won’t kill you, survivor’s remorse will. It’s a good thing there aren’t many tall buildings in Boise. If I were MWC commissioner Craig Thompson, I’d put a man in the US Bank Plaza elevator, just in case.

Remember a few months back, after Thompson added Boise State to a mix including (for the shortest of times) Utah and TCU and BYU, and Texas was threatening to leave the Big 12, and Kansas and Kansas State were thinking about throwing their helmets in the Mountain West ring, at least according to the Internet bloggers?

You almost have to feel sorry for the man.

I say almost, because if one tuned into the postgame show on The Mtn. after Saturday’s UNLV-San Diego State football game and saw the shoes that analyst Beau Morgan was wearing, there’s no way one could feel sorrow for Thompson, only deep and unadulterated contempt.

So what does he do now? Play the hand that remains? Try to talk Conference USA into a merger? Might as well add the remnants of the Western Athletic Conference and the Sun Belt, too. Western Kentucky deserves an invite, if for no other reason than its logo is a hand waving a towel.

They could call it the Little Cheese Conference. Or Boise State and the 38 Dwarfs. They could take the guarantee from the Fight Hunger Bowl and divide it 39 ways. That should pay for at least two setters and one libero to make a volleyball trip to Hawaii.

One can’t fault Thompson for raiding the WAC in a desperate attempt to keep the Mountain West relevant when this game of musical chairs began. One does have to wonder how he likes the taste of the medicine he has been shoving down WAC commissioner Karl Benson’s throat, however.

According to “The Yale Book of Quotations,” the earliest use of the proverb “turnabout is fair play” occurred in “The Life and Uncommon Adventures of Capt. Dudley Bradstreet” in 1755. Bradstreet was an Irish adventurer and secret agent. Apparently, he was also the former commissioner of the Dukes of Cumberland Conference when the Earl of Kilmarnock and Lord Balmerino announced they were leaving to join the Even Bigger Dukes of Newcastle and were promptly executed.

UNLV could use a man like Dudley Bradstreet, or at least somebody who knows how to recruit football players. The truly sad thing about all these announcements involving their brethren is that the Rebels aren’t making one themselves.

Las Vegas would be an ideal Pac-10/12 city, if only it had a football program. If one were to suggest the Pac-10/12 take UNLV with its bright lights and its excellent basketball program and its football program as is, one would be laughed all the way to Corvallis, Ore., as is. Or even Pullman, Wash.

“I can understand (TCU’s) decision,” UNLV president Neal Smatresk said Monday, “but can’t help but feel that if we had retained all current members, we would now be in a strong position as one of the premier leagues in the country. We will continue to be a strong conference, though, with the addition of Boise, UNR, Fresno and Hawaii.”

Yup, that’s what he said. Strong conference.

Then he tipped his bartender and his waitress.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352.

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