The Mountain West Conference is reportedly considering expanding as a conference, and it is in talks with several schools, including Gonzaga, which is currently part of the West Conference. According to the San Diego Tribune, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said the talks are ongoing.
“Since August,” Thompson said. “I have spoken to six university presidents and/or athletic directors that have called inquiring about whether we are going to expand, and the Zags are one of them.
“I guess the adjective I’d use is exploratory,” Thompson continued. “Truthfully, what we’re trying to do here is better ourselves and we’re trying to understand what are your goals and ambitions, and what are the Mountain West’s goals and ambitions. Is there something there? … But obviously, they would enhance our basketball enterprise.”
The Zags have enjoyed recent success in the NCAA Tournament, having gone to the national title game last year, they enjoyed their first-ever Final Four and national title appearance in program history. But as Gonzaga blog Slipper Still Fits points out, the move would give the Zags an opportunity for a stronger resume:
The MWC would be a huge step up for Gonzaga in terms of conference opponents. Although it has been a few years since the MWC sent five teams to the NCAA Tournament, Nevada is turning into a perennial dancer, and New Mexico and San Diego State are always threatening. If anything, the overall quality of the conference (and therefore that pesky RPI) would be leaps and bounds better than the WCC.
Gonzaga has become increasingly vocal about the state of affairs in the conference, and this year provides yet another perfect example of the disparity. Gonzaga, despite rolling with a 27-4 record and a top-10 ranking by Ken Pomeroy, will most likely land as a No. 4 seed at best. Although the Zags shot themselves in the foot with their own non-conference scheduling, it did not help one iota that four WCC teams were sub-250 in RPI (sorry Santa Clara, at No. 248 you are thrown in that category). By contrast, the MWC had two sub-250 teams.
As we’ve seen in realignment past, nothing is definite until an official move is announced. Having Gonzaga in the MWC would certainly be intriguing, but for now we’ll have to wait and see what happens.