What kind of 'gain' are we looking at...to guarantee a pick up of either a fb pair or non fb individual? Where does the meter have to register with the potential school or schools? In other words....how many factors(market, city, size of school, quality of education, quality of athletics, finances) have to be, at least, good or higher?
Factors I believe are important, in order, if I were the AAC commissioner or involved with their process: school size/finances, athletics, market/city, education. Finances are probably closely tied with school size, so I put them together. I can't think of a giant school with low finances. School size is important to me because the larger the school, the more students and alumni which increases the amount of people interested in the school, the more people interested then more people will watch on tv or come to games (home, away, or neutral). Athletic performance for the AAC would be my #2 because they must get stronger to be included in the football playoffs and get an edge getting at-larges for March Madness. Market/city was almost #2 but I put it as #3. I would say its very important but not to the point of being more important than athletics. North Texas is in Denton which is pretty much DFW, but they wouldn't be close to being considered for the AAC because their athletics aren't where they should be to help the conference. My #4 is academics. Personally, academics are very important to me, but having AAU status or being top 10 on US News doesn't get you a playoff spot.
And, where does the AAC rank when it comes to raiding other conferences? Can the AAC pull schools from the A10 or BE? Or do these conferences tend to be able to withstand potential raids from the AAC?
I thought about this recently, here's what I would say:
The "Power Three" -PAC, SEC, B1G - will never lose schools (barring an AAU jump of Missouri/Vanderbilt to B1G)
The XII feeds into the PAC, SEC, B1G
The ACC feeds into the SEC, B1G
The AAC feeds into ACC, XII (western schools may defect to MWC)
The MWC feeds into PAC, XII (eastern schools may defect to AAC)
The MAC feeds into AAC
The CUSA feeds into AAC, MAC
The Sun Belt feeds into CUSA
When it comes to non-football schools with the A-10 and Big East: I consider the Big East is a "Power" conference. I can't imagine any schools moving from the Big East. This is definitely a down year in basketball for them, but nevertheless, I think its a final resting place. The A-10 is definitely the feeder into the Big East. As far as non-football members into the AAC, I could only see the A-10 schools who don't get invites into the Big East to consider an AAC invite. They would play against Cincinnati, Memphis, Connecticut, and SMU with up-and-coming programs like Houston and usually decent Temple. That would be a step-up. I think the next step for Wichita St would either be an AAC-invite (my preference but unlikely) or the A-10. We know the Midwest isn't afraid of the Midwest as they had Creighton and currently have Saint Louis.
Where does Air Force fit into the process with the AAC? What would it take to make AF interested, in your opinion? Could the addition of Army and Wichita State be enough to get AF's interest? AF would then be paired up with a smaller style of university...such as: SMU, Tulsa, WSU, Tulane, Navy, Army, and Temple. It could have been that SDSU and BSU were too big for AF to want to pair up with?? Now that they aren't in with the AAC...maybe, AF will have second thoughts on joining??
Air Force would fair well with the AAC in football. I don't think any other sports because of the travel involved. They are federally funded, but its difficult being a student-athlete in college. I think a football-only invite would interest Air Force. If Air Force was football-only, an invite of Wichita St as non-football would make sense. Air Force would probably join only if Army was included but if another western school was included I think it'd be set. Unfortunately, the AAC shouldn't look further than Colorado which is already pretty far out there for that conference and there's not many schools headed towards Colorado that would be worth an invite except maybe New Mexico. If Air Force wanted to join as a full member, I think they would require another more western school to be a full member.
Fb could be:
To make up for Navy and Army....add Wichita State and someone like Richmond, Charleston, Belmont, SLU, or similar.
What would you think of that sort of set up?
The only oddball here is a division containing Cincinnati and Air Force, but the cities of Cincinnati and Colorado Springs can definitely fly to each other. Not a big deal. To make up for Navy and Army, I would add 1 eastern non-football school and 1 western non-football school. Wichita St comes to mind for me immediately. I believe Saint Louis will be in the Big East soon, but they're a good choice. For an eastern school, I would look at Virginia Commonwealth. Richmond is a good choice, but there's rumors that they may end up in the Big East.
Basketball: Air Force, Wichita St
, Tulsa, SMU
, Houston, Tulane, Memphis
, Central Florida, South Florida, Cincinnati
, Virginia Commonwealth
, East Carolina (that could be a 6-8 bid conference with the underlined schools in any given year)