I knew I should have spent the time to find a synonym for "regional" when I wrote that sentence. I know in terms of Universities that word carries a different meaning, I thought the rest of the paragraph illustrated that I was using the the term in a more general sense in describing BYU.
ie. BYU is not limited to just being a state flagship (like Utah), rather it is the flagship of the dominant religion in a multistate ...we will say"area"... stretching from Arizona to Idaho and California to Colorado.
You're close, but while the base does tend to thin out the farther east you go, it's still definitely there. It is without a doubt a national presence. Think of it like the Mormon version of Notre Dame, except without other catholic schools (IE Boston College, Gonzaga, etc) that would claim their own portions of possible fanbase.
If you look closely, you'll see I haven't said UVU could or would be admitted without taking up football. This is a school that has a lot of positives in terms of FBS potential. Additionally, it is a school that is trying to redefine themselves. If the WAC offerred a bid to them based on them adding football, this is the kind of scenario where I could see a school administration with no apparrent football plans, seriously considering it.
And yes, just like FIU and FAU they would have to transition through FCS.
Actually, this is entirely different. You have BYU and Utah (by far the first fiddle public school), then Utah State, Southern Utah, Dixie State, Weber State and UVU all competing for state dollars and students. This isn't Florida where the state is swimming with recruits, they would have to go into an already-swarmed California to get players, which without a team or tradition already established, is going to be extremely rough. Unless they either have a foothold in a I-A conference with bb-only schools (Big East, Sun Belt), they are going to have to have sustained success at the I-AA level in order to move up. This would probably take 25-30 years, by which time most of the Big Sky will have moved up, if not the entire conference itself.
I think you overstate some of your points. I acknowledge that FBS conference are looking for established football members, but part of the jist of this post is that in the WAC, where membership is at a bare minimum and there are relatively few candidate schools who could make the jump, UVU is a compelling mix of a a school with the potential to do it and no limitations (beyond obvious financial ones --- which may or may not be there).
This is not the frequently mentioned Montana, the only school who could make the jump tomorrow. Montana realizes that if they move up to FBS, they will always be stuck in the worst conference in the region because they lack any media, academic, or attendance clout. Additionally, the prospects of going without Montana State would be, at best, not without rancor. They probably will remain FCS for the next 20 years+.
Actually that's by far off base, especially with Montana. While academically the MWC is recognized over the WAC, the WAC still has more on-field boasts, with Nevada's recent runs in March Madness, making two BCS bowl games and winning one (and don't be surprised if the Broncs are back there this year). I've said this numerous times, but Montana is set up to be the next Boise State, the entire problem is they could never go anywhere without MSU, who would be set up to fail like Idaho. Actually Idaho's move to I-A was fueled quite a bit by Montana winning a national title. Having all 3 main rivals with I-AA titles and UI without (as well as some state snobbery involved) really put the Vandals in the mood to jump to have one up on UM, depsite being ill-prepared for the move. The state Us board system would never let one move up without the other, nor would they both move up would they ever let them split conferences, let a bunch of armed MSU fans storm Helena.
So where will the next member school come from? What happens if TCU recruiting flatlines and the team starts losing? If angry alumni force a withdrawl from the MWC and a return to CUSA? Does the MWC just lose face or do they pull Reno or Boise from the WAC? Who does the WAC pick up? Texas State??? That is another travel anchor that financially challenged conference doesn't need.
This is more a far-flung what if than anything, barring an SMU-style scandal, I doubt TCU goes anywhere.
The sunbelt added FIU and FAU because they were hurting for members, the schools fit the footprint, offered good potential markets, few local competitors, and were dedicated to the move financially. The recruiting potential was probably not a big factor. Small time FBS schools recruit locally, so while FIU and FAU might quickly become solid sunbelt schools, this isn't like the Big East nothern schools wanting a launching board to recruit blue chip Florida recruits. Additionally, I do not think either school was an athletic power in IAA (ala montana) in their breif IAA stays. One of the schools qualified for the playoffs after they started getting the IA recruits in preparation for moving up, but to call them IAA powers would be a huge stretch.
Considering FIU would have made the playoffs their first year, and FAU did in theirs, I think it's safe to say had the Sun Belt not have been forced to get more schools immediately, both would be perennial playoff contenders in I-AA.
Additionally, I think you are looking at it backwards. ULM, and regionally displaced Idaho and NM St., those were probably not an FBS conference's first choices. The sunbelt took what they could get to start. The sunbelt cherrypicked IAA (as best they could) for their later members. FIU and FAU give good media markets. Troy and WKU were FCS powers with long tradion and were likely candidates to transition to competent FBS schools quickly. They didn't get everyone they probably wanted, but no FCS school that wanted to move up in the eastern half of the country thought the sunbelt would shun them if they moved up. The same can't be said about the WAC.
Well, the big problem with that is that the Sun Belt evolved out of the former Big West conference. Arkansas State, North Texas, Idaho, and NM State all came out of the Big West, while Utah State went independent and Boise went to the WAC (Nevada had left the BW the previous year). Louisiana-Lafayette was a former BW member who went Independent, and ULM and MTS were transitioning into I-A already.
Another thing is that you're not taking geography into account. The only actual western I-AA conference is the Big Sky, the Great West is (and always was) more of a mish-mash of the western outliers. The conference started as St. Mary's, SUU, Cal Poly (all I-AA independents), while the rest were move-ups from DII (DakStates, Northern Colorado, Cal-Davis). If you can't even break the Big Sky, you can kiss any I-A aspirations goodbye. It would take UVU a good 5 years of playing solid football (including two playoff years) AND solid academics to get into the BSC (though Cal-Davis would probably be welcomed rather quickly should they ever tire of the BWC or want a home for all sports), then at least another 10 of competitive BSC play to even consider it.
I haven't mentioned IUPUI at all.
IUPUI was just an example of your typical commuter school, which is what UVU still is right now. It doesn't matter what the administration tries, if the students don't want to a) buy into it, b) help shoulder the costs of building a solid athletic program while upgrading the university, and c) stay on campus (for social events if not live there), it won't happen.
I think this logic is off a bit. It is dead on for larger conferences, but I don't buy it for the MAC. Buffalo is a great add for all the reasons you mention, but do you really think their addition is an effort by the MAC to rebrand themselves as a more academic conference?
Well, considering they offered nothing sportswise and their fanbase was nearly non-existant for years (possibly to this day), yes.
Do you really think the MAC added UCF to recruit Florida? UCF is an enormous university in a great maket. That had the chance to be a very high profile add that added TV money --- just like temple.... There were reasons for these schools and the MAC to get together that seem a lot more compelling than your suggestions.
UCF does have the market, but there is no denying that also being in a hotbed of HS football has its advantages (look at what South Florida has done for the BE). Temple has the academics, but to be honest its football market numbers are horrible... it's really Buffalo part II, except it's a football-only partnering.
Where is the WAC as a football conference if Boise or La Tech bolts?
Actually LaTech bolting would probably be a blessing in disguise, as the travel costs would be MUCH more managable. That was actually the plan until C-USA surprised everyone and took UTEP. LaTech could easily bolt for the Sun Belt any time they wanted. However, the fact that they don't is a bigger indication that the Sun Belt IS below the WAC, as it always has been (even as the Big West). Even before the BW decided to stop sponsoring football, they suffered a lot of defections to the gain of the WAC (see the expansion to 16, Nevada, Boise State). Obviously Boise would be a loss, but there is still good football played by Hawaii (look at all of the BCS-affiliated teams who've gotten trounced on the island over the years) and Fresno State.