#1 factor is TV$
#4 sports other than fb
I think the MWC taking TCU is the odd one. They take a small school in a pro sports town dominated by another conference. It also makes a 12 team lineup very difficult. Boise, Hawaii or Fresno were the logical additions. I think TCU flunks #1, #3 and #5. The MWC is actually pretty compact considering the part of the country it is in.
USF to the BE is probably similar to the TCU choice. The BE is gambling that USF catches on and becomes the next "Virginia Tech." MWC is totally delusional to think TCU helps get a BCS bid. But maybe they are simply hoping for a consistent power.
Bullett, I've offered some opposite thoughts on another thread, so allow me to debate you on this one. Though I should preface it with the fact that I agree with your comparison of TCU-to-MWC with USF-to-BE.
However, I don't think the MWC is "totally delusional" regarding the BCS. Not that this move will land them a member-status come 2005, but they have upgraded the depth of quality programs within their conference, a fact that could go along way if/when one of their schools becomes the next candidate to crash the BCS party. Having a decent sos for your conference schedule is a must for outsiders hoping to land in a big bowl, and it's safe to say that in the short run TCU can only help everyone's sos.
You say TCU flunks the TV money test. Given a) the calibre of schools that would move to the MWC, and b) the hype that has grown for quality mid-major programs recently, TCU may be about as good as they could get. Surely the MWC season will feature a few more quality match-ups than without TCU in the mix. Plus there's now the tie-in to the Fort (what its) Worth bowl. (Okay, I'll admit having saved that one for too long...)
You say TCU flunks the compatibility test. Yes the MWC is comprised of mostly larger state universities, but Air Force will certainly appreciate having another smaller, academically minded institution. What's more, athletic programs can vary from the college as a whole in terms of public appeal and scale. TCU has great facilities and support very comparable to (better than?) SDSU, Wyoming and New Mexico. It's not as simple as Louisville to the BE, but I'd say flunking this category is too harsh given the nature of athletic programs these days.
You say the move flunks the geography test. A) if the MWC stays within the region and simply takes BSU, than theres the risk of flunking the money issue. B) I have to believe western geography is viewed differently than eastern. The sparsity of populations and cities suggests that it may not prove as bad. Much like Miami, once you get on the plane, the destination doesn't matter. Plus, unlike Boston College, TCU won't literally be bypassing so many other schools (read: possible affiliations) en route to a conference game. They just happen to be farther apart.
It's not perfect, but upon further review I personally like the move. Granted, I have no stake in the conference or the school. Yet, like the ACC, once the MWC committed to the idea, it had to do something. In that respect I feel the MWC was the only conference that executed a near flawless expansion.