The offices of the Mountain West and Western Athletic conferences are separated by just a short stretch of Interstate 25 along Colorado's front range of the Rocky Mountains. Driving distance between MWC headquarters, north of Colorado Springs, and the WAC, south of Denver: 41 miles.
They don't share just geography, though. They share profiles, too. They're striver leagues on the outside of the college football circle of power that have overcome the stigma to win multiple BCS bowl games. And when they've had those victories -- two by Utah for the MWC, two by Boise State for the WAC -- there has been an aura of mutual respect and congratulation for sticking it to the elite.