At this point, things look pretty good for the Southland. I understand that the quality of the primary sport for all conferences at this level, basketball, is not going to be anything great. They lost UTSA, Texas St and UTA...in other words, they lost little. they replaced them with ORU who actually has had success. And now HBU comes in offering football. 9 for football was the key...one extra school as protection should Lamar make the FBS jump. Again, not a ton of football options out there...really just D2 upgrades at this point. But you gotta love that as a conference that NEEDED to add schools to replace departing ones, that they were able to do it conveniently with nearby HBU and adding ORU, a logical fit in the current Southland footprint. While schools in the Big Sky will be having to hold bake sales to come up with their travel money each year, the Southland, despite losing 3 schools, can still rely on bus trips. Nice to see.
I've written before about future Southland options. I still think UALR is a great fit if the conference can get them to join. Sure, no football, but really ideal with UCA in the conference. And clearly, UALR is the best basketball option at least when you consider the only candidates left would be Great West and D2. Sorry UTPA fans, will take a firm "no" from UALR and quality all-sports D2 schools before you get your invite for #12.
UTSA, TX St, and UTA aren't little to the SLC, they were big markets with the largest student bodies in the entire conference, them leaving really hurts, UTA/UTSA were good (for the SLC) in bb and TX St was great in fb...
I also think UALR would be a great fit in the SLC but I'm pretty sure they want that 10th fb school to keep everything stable if Lamar/SHSU/SFA upgrade in a few years, but if UALR showed any interest I bet they would get an invite, but I don't see the SLC pursuing them at this time.
UTPA has a long way to go before they can seriously be considered, but it must be comforting for both the SLC and UTPA to know that if the SLC needs a school to help them recover from being raided that nearby UTPA is available...but if things settle down and membership stays constant, the only way UTPA can get an invite in the near future is if they, ORU or A&M-CC add fb then they can get the #10 fb spot or slide into the 2nd non-fb spot.
Fan of the Big 12 Conference, the Mountain West Conference and...