Sounds like the MWC will probably expand, but will be cautious, at least at first. But if they want to be a major player, they'r etaking a real chance leaving teams like TCU up for grabs (though they may be waiting to see what happens to C-USA first). They also need to rethink keeping Wyoming. If it's about tradition, that's fine. But if it's about money and reaching for the BCS slot, they need to think carefully. They need to have clout in football, probably need to go to 12, and they need to establish a solid recruiting base for the conference. They also need to grab what little they can of large markets that are available, and they need to try and convince ESPN, etc., that they have an upside in terms of viewership. They also need to make each division as solid a regional fit as possible, to build up rivalries and gradually pull in local interest, and to cut down on travel costs as much as possible.
The Western division is a no-brainer, apart from coosing between Hawaii and Boise State. Boise brings in the #125 tv market, a marginal bowl, and a pretty succesful (thoguh they haven't beaten anyone big away form home) football team. Hawaii brings old WAC tradition, probably a couple of lower-tier bowl games, an attractive destination for fans and players, a questionable commitment to a football program that could be very succesful, increased travel costs, and the #72 tv market. My guess is they'll go with Hawaii. Greater upside, especially if they invest in the program. BYU and Utah are probably partial to Hawaii, and that would clinch it.
Hawaii (Boise St.)
San Diego State
The West, IMHO, ought to be based roughly in Big 12 territory. Air Force, Colorado St., and New Mexico would be a solid regional nucleus. Tulsa could add power in hoops, the # 59-61 tv market (depends which source you use), and a pretty valuable recruiting destination for the conference. OK has pretty good football talent per capita. Certainly better than Wyoming or Idaho.
Houston's programs are flatlining, but it'd be an extremely vauable recruiting destination for the conference, and even a small share of the nation's #11 tv market would be valuable when it comes to negotiating a tv deal. Houston may never recover, but there is definitely potential for the school to become a power again in at least one sport, especially if the MWC gets BCS status and a couple of extra invites to the tourney per year. TCU is a no-brainer if they can be pulled in. Instant football credibility and a team in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Valuable for recruiting and for tv (market rank #7). With the addition of SMU, assuming the school really commits to upgrading its football program, the MWC could add another team int eh same market, and perhaps rekindle some of the old SWC rivalries. Granted, it's not Texas/Texas A&M, but if SMU begins to win, people in Dallas will tune in to TCU/SMU games. UTEP is a more valuable addition than SMU right now, so they might be preferable, but if the MWC can get some assurances of efforts to improve form SMU, I think SMU would be a more valuable addition.
Add a BCS bid and a couple of extra tourney participants to this group, and I think the conference could start slowly digging in to a respectable shar eof the new markets. More importantly, national interest in the conference would increase, because with the BCS bid and hoops respect, recruiting would improve, especially with the pipelines into California and Texas. The MWC would never enter SEC territory, or porbably even ACC territory, but they could definitely take a step up in terms of money and ratings, and they could take an even bigger step much earlier in recruiting, and get the rest of the nation interested in key conference games. TCU could probably enter Virginia Tech territory in terms of national respect. Air Force would be a major draw with one or two extra athletes per year. And BYU and Colorado state, with slightly better recruiting, would be legit top 10 teams instead of perennial late season losers. The basketball potential for the conference would be even more exciting.