Are all 11 Mountain West schools okay with this charity status for Hawaii? If not, then you probably have your next UAB-type expansion move coming. Right now, Hawaii has no realistic shot at becoming an Independent. The start-up costs and risks of playing as an Indy are tough for: BYU, Army and Navy let alone for a school with a much smaller athletic budget three time zones away in the middle of the ocean. Obviously right now Hawaii has enough support from enough Mountain West members (whatever that number of members actually is). Lets assume that after the next ten years Hawaii stays in the doldrums and Mountain West members (as a majority vote) decide that enough is enough. Why ten years? Everyone here knows that the P5 tectonic plates are shifting in in 2025. Naturally, all conferences big or small will take stock of the major changes and act accordingly.
With UTEP you could replace Hawaii with a 12th member for Olympic Sports. Improved West Texas recruiting access. Decent-to-occasionally-good Olympic sports (NCAA Titles in Baseball, Basketball and Track & Field) and a close partner for New Mexico and UNLV. The "iconic" Sun Bowl? I kid, but a good amount of college football fans are aware of their stadium due to the Sun Bowl Game.
There's also BYU, New Mexico State, Tulsa and others who could equal/surpass Hawaii in football and blow it away by default in contributions in the Olympic Sports. An even number of Olympic Sports may not seem significant until you consider that the Mountain West is currently forced to have wonky conference tournaments for each of their Olympic Sports.
Rice would be a dream candidate, but I think they are actually holding out for a power conference. Before everyone spits their coffee out, just remember that Rice has the type of donors who could simply write up a big enough check (ala T. Boone Pickens of Oklahoma State) to compete at a P5 level in football. Doing so in basketball is literally as easy as calling Larry Brown on the phone or calling any currently disgraced yet formerly great coach (R.I.P. Tark ... but more will follow in your footsteps and even Ole Coach Cal of Kentucky will get there someday if I had to guess).
In conclusion, if I'm Wyoming, I say "Why bother?" when it comes to Hawaii and their negative financial impact (including diminished potential income via replacement) on the Mountain West. Yes, Colt Brennan and June Jones made it happen for Hawaii once. Is evidence of that (mind you, for 1-3 seasons only) something the Mountain West wants to take into consideration for the next hundred years? Or shall we look into the eyes of all the tired students as they reach campus at 4 A.M. after defeating a (2-10, 0-8) Hawaii team in front of ten fans in their crumbling stadium? UTEP doesn't want to join? Fine. Tulsa would in nanoseconds. You would gain a March Madness team every 2-3 years and a bowl team every 2-3 years. Hawaii isn't offering anything close to that now or in the next ten years. The costs of funding a football team are rising. Who wants to travel those extra times zones just to win a noncompetitive game?
This plan has got some real big holes in it.
>Tulsa...doesn't play baseball. And why would they leave the AAC for a lateral move? Give up Dallas, Houston, Memphis and New Orleans for....Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins and Laramie? Really? Doubtful!
>NMSU....only plays 6 men's sports which includes fb, bb and baseball. They are almost worthless for this example.
>Rice....why would Rice leave a conference with 3 other Texas schools to play in the MWC? And, they don't spend major money on athletics at Rice. If they did...they would be in the Big 12, already.
>UTEP....the MWC had a choice to take UTEP...but passed. What has changed their minds since then? And, what does UTEP feel about that snub? Would they leave their Texas mates to play against New Mexico(who they already play every year in every sport)...and a bunch of schools that snubbed them?
>BYU....come on. BYU isn't joining the MWC.
This could all be 'slightly' fixed by just adding one Olympic school. I say slightly...because in almost every MWC sport...there are between 1 and 5 schools missing that sport. There are 12 for fb, 11 for bb, and only 6 or 7 schools in every other sport. Which is sad for a conference that considers themselves 'so good'.
I know....hybrid leagues are frowned on by some. But, I don't really subscribe that it is bad in all situations.
With Hawaii unable to support Olympic teams in the MWC...they should be substituted by a super high quality program. like:
Gonzaga, Denver, Wichita State, Seattle, Long Beach State, Cal. State Fullerton, St. Mary's, Pepperdine, someone along these lines.
The MWC could score a great school and a great market with this move. They could add to ALL their Olympic events(9-11 sports)...instead of just a few(6 sports) with Tulsa and NMSU. Adding a school with only a few Oly sports wouldn't help anything.
And...if Wyoming is complaining about Hawaii....that is a complete joke. Wyoming needs to look in the mirror.