FORT COLLINS - The time for Mountain West expansion has finally arrived.
San Jose State and Utah State officially became member institutions of the MW on Monday, bringing the league total to 12 schools for football and 11 for all other sports as the conference enters its 15th year of existence.
With the addition of SJSU and Utah State - following in the footsteps of Boise State, Nevada and Fresno State, which all departed the Western Athletic Conference for the MW during the last two years - significant scheduling changes will happen for football and men's and women's basketball.
Football will be split into divisions for the first time in league history, grouping schools geographically in the Mountain Division and West Division.
CSU, Air Force, Wyoming, New Mexico, Boise State and Utah State will call the Mountain Division home. The West Division will house San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV, Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii. In an eight-game conference schedule, teams will face all divisional opponents each season while rotating the three nondivision opponents and home fields.
For example, Colorado State University will play all Mountain Division teams this fall, along with going to Hawaii and hosting SJSU and Nevada at Hughes Stadium. In 2014, the Rams will again match up against their divisional opponents, but host Hawaii and travel to SJSU and Nevada. In 2015, CSU will play UNLV, SDSU and Fresno State from the West Division, again rotating home fields with those schools in 2016.
Teams are guaranteed four home conference games per year.
Also new this year is a football conference championship game, pitting the Mountain and West division winners against each other Dec. 7. The game will be held at the home stadium of whichever team has the better BCS ranking.
In basketball, there will not be divisions. To help compensate for an 11-team league, schools will play eight conference opponents twice per season in a home-and-home format, - which is how it's worked in years past - while only one game will be played against the remaining two teams.
The 2013-14 basketball schedule hasn't been released, but in theory, CSU could travel to Utah State next season and host SJSU, while playing the remaining eight MW programs twice - once at Moby Arena, the other on the road.
Conference officials said Monday they plan on releasing the basketball schedule in mid- to late August.