September 24, 2011
Like everyone else, Lt. Gen. Mike Gould is waiting to see what happens with conference realignment.
The difference is Gould has plenty of say in Air Force’s future, as the superintendent of the academy. The Big East and Big 12 have been rumored to be interested in Air Force over the past few weeks. The Falcons have had a good relationship with the Mountain West and could stay put. Becoming an independent in football can’t even be ruled out.
Air Force won’t commit to anything, and that’s understandable considering how quickly the narrative is changing. The Falcons couldn’t commit to a conference without knowing what it might look like in a few weeks. But Gould and Air Force are considering all options.
“We are proud members of the Mountain West Conference,” Gould said at halftime of Saturday’s football game between Air Force and Tennessee State. “It’s a great conference. We enjoy the association with all the schools. At the same time, as we watch the landscape change, we’re watching with interest.”
Gould was asked if he had been contacted by Big East officials.
“There’s lots of informal conversations going on,” Gould said. “Everyone is trying to position themselves. But we have a good home where we are.”
He said it was premature to say if Air Force would accept an invitation from the Big East if it was formally extended.
“I can’t answer that,” Gould said. “I’d certainly listen to them. I’d listen to anybody. But what will go into our factoring is our cadets.”
Gould said the Air Force leadership in Washington is also interested in any possible developments. One possibility that has been rumored is Air Force going to a conference like the Big East in a football-only arrangement, which might mean the Falcons’ other sports would have to find a new conference.
“We would consider any reasonable arrangement,” Gould said. “If it meant football in one and our other sports in another type of association, that’s always a possibility. Again, where we sit in the Mountain West is pretty nice because most of our sports are right there.”
Gould made it clear that the well-being of the cadets would be the top consideration for any decision, and that Air Force was happy with its current arrangement in the Mountain West. With so much changing in the college athletics landscape, Gould didn’t know when Air Force will ultimately know its future.
“I don’t think anybody knows the timetable,” Gould said. “It’s a dynamic environment right now. I have no idea when it might settle down.”