Mountain West Conference will begin playing football on Oct. 24

Add the Mountain West to the list of FBS conferences trying to play a fall football season.

The Group of Five league, which includes Utah State, announced Thursday evening it will play an eight-game season beginning Oct. 24, with a Mountain West championship game scheduled for Dec. 19.

That aggressive timeline to begin is subject to state and local health authorities allowing teams to play during the pandemic, which is no guarantee. The Mountain West has three California schools, plus the University of New Mexico, which is still prohibited from practicing with more than 10 people together, per the state’s public health order.

The Mountain West is expected to release further details of its return-to-play plan Friday morning. After a Monday meeting among the league athletic directors. One league source told The Salt Lake Tribune that multiple coronavirus testing options were on the table, but indicated that three times per week was the probable scenario.

Among the reasons the Mountain West has opted to push for a fall season, let alone adopt an ambitious timeline to do so, is money. The league’s new six-year, $270 million media rights took effect July 1. The annual payout each full member (Hawaii is a football-playing associate member) is due to receive now quadruples from roughly $1.1 million to $4 million.