Thats all understood. The conferences that are always under discussion with them is the Mid Con and the BSC. This is a grouping of schools that already play each other, this is for formalizing scheduling and to give out awards. Northern Colorado will be joining the Big Sky next year, so they are losing a team to double schedule, as well as Texas A & M-Corpus Christi joining the Southland, thus eliminating a doubling scheduling partner for UTPA, and perhaps 1 or 2 of the other 5 schools in this alignment. They need to shore up teams that they know will be there for scheduling during January and February.
There are a number of challenges with it ever becoming a complete conference. On top of that, if one or more teams leave as they get conference invites, it makes it even less stable. The only way it stays stable if no one gets a conference invite, and that is not likely to happen over the next 13 years.
The BSC and the Mid Con, both spread-out conferences, relatively speaking, are the likely destinations for any and all Dakota schools. The BSC is probably the bottom rung D I conference of the West (if not then the West Coast Conference), while the Mid Con is the Bottom rung Midwestern Conference. The Dakotas are not headed for the Atlantic Sun, Big South or the MAAC or the American East, or even the Horizon League, nor the Missouri Valley. There is really no other destination for them at this point in time. Unless this alignment of 6 teams stay together for 13 years without losing a team to another conference. UTEP, La Tech, BC, USF, TCU are not really the same situation, as they are not in a bottom level situation. La Tech can choose the WAC over the Sun Belt, because they are not quite at the bottom of I-A. They've been to bowls before, including the Independence Bowl, which is a higher level bowl with more history than the New Orleans Bowl. UTEP can choose between the WAC or CUSA, TCU can choose between MWC and CUSA, USF can choose between the BE and CUSA and BC can choose between the ACC and the BE. For these Dakota schools, its more like "take whatever conference gives us a home". There's a poster at www.bisonville.com
that says that he prefers "the conference that gives the Bison a home, whoever that may be," or something like that. They don't have much choice for conferences in their situation and these I-As really do.
With a potential BE split or a MWC raid of the WAC, a domino effect could take place that makes those two conferences either tighter, or the conference footprint core becomes centered geographically on the teams in the Dakotas, especially the Mid Con. If a large number of BSC teams and WAC remnant teams merge in a alignment together, what could happen is that any remnant BSC teams could merge with the Dakotas, and could create an all-sport Great West Conference out of the Great West Football Conference. If any other NCC teams move up, they would cause the tighter alignments to be centered on the Dakotas. The Dakotas may then only have an IPFW and a UVSC and maybe SUU or a Chicago State as the only long distant conference trips, and all the other conference trips would be with neighboring teams in their backyard who they have played a series with for a long time.