The Big West wants 10 for RPI sake, every RPI analyst has said it best for your conference to have at least 10, with a 18 game conference schedule you beat up on your conference foes instead of getting beat by strong OOC games or lowering your SOS by playing bad teams.
Huh? I really only know of ONE RPI analyst (Jerry Palm). I suppose there's some arm-chair RPI analysts out there (I'd consider myself one). But the ideal number of teams is totally dependent on how you perform out of conference.
Every conference goes .500 against yourself. The more conf games, the more your total SOS's move towards .500. So there's two reasons to play a 18-game conference season:
#1 - Your conference performs very well OOC, and you can make more money playing more conference games (Power Conferences).
#2 - Your conference is really awful, and going .500 against yourself is an improvement over what you were doing OOC (or you're in an isolated area of the country and finding OOC games is tough.
From an RPI standpoint, the fewer conference games you play, the better off you are. Because that means fewer games you're guaranteed to lose as a league. Your SOS from conference games is basically your league's total win pct.
8-team MWC 2011-12: 82-27 OOC (.753), 138-83 (.624) overall.
9-team MWC 2012-13: 82-25 OOC (.776), 146-90 (.618) overall.
10-team MWC 2012-13: 93-27 OOC (.775), 174-108 (.617) overall)**
(with a hypothetical 10th team going .775 OOC, let's say North Dakota State, since they are 9-3 OOC)
As you can see, more conference games lowers your overall win pct, which moves everyone's SOS towards .500.
Of course, that's if the newcomer MATCHES what the conference is doing OOC. Bakersfield is 4-11 this season (.267). That doesn't help:
9-Team BWC 2012-13: 37-59 OOC (.385), 109-131 (.454) overall.
10-Team BWC 2012-13: 41-70 OOC (.369), 122-151 (.446) overall.
Cal St- Northridge, Fullerton, Long Beach, Cal Poly
U Cal- Davis, Irvine, Riverside, Santa Barbara
and Hawaii- now the tie breaker (like Pacific was)
They added SDSU because they are great for that league and they really wanted in SD which is why they were pursuing UCSD earlier for that market which they wanted for upcoming TV deals and its where a lot of UC/CS alumni live. They were willing to let in another Cal St school w/o a UC school and break the balance in order to improve their RPI and get into the SD market but Boise was a tough sell which is why they wanted 750K a year.
I don't know how much the San Diego market effects their TV deal. People actually care about SDSU, so it helped. But no one really cares about the rest of the Big West, because they're .385 basketball teams.
The clear indication of this is that Hawaii and Boise St had to pay travel subsidies. If they helped the TV deal, that wouldn't be necessary. Everyone would have gotten more TV money offsetting the cost.
Now that Boise isn't coming, and SDSU is probably leaving too...I bet they'll re-up talks with UCSD who will eventually find a way into D1 sooner rather than later and then CSUB will get their long awaited invite though they had made a stink about 11, I think it'll happen.
Plus I'm sure they'd like to be protected if Hawaii ever gets a full MWC invite or Cal Poly/UC Davis ever decide to join the FBS in the WAC or a new upstart conference with Idaho, NMSU, Sac St, the Montana's, and some of the other Big Sky teams.
UCSD is also the only D2 UC program and has the 4th largest UC enrollment outside of the UCLA/Cal-Berkley/Davis, and the 3rd largest endowment after UCLA/SF. And with 11 Cal St schools in D2 and 2 in NAIA they most likely want to encourage other UC schools to start moving up so that they may have a chance to in a decade or two.
After USCD the only non D1 UC schools left are UC-San Fransisco (no sports), UC-Merced (just est. in 2005, NAIA) and the UC-Santa Cruz "Banana Slugs" (in D3 and most likely to move up to D2).
The last thing the Big West wants is to be in a position where they have to invite CSUB w/o UCSD and other randoms like Grand Canyon, Utah Valley, and Seattle.
I think you're overthinking this. We're applying all the intelligent, rational arguments for conference realignment to a conference that is a one-bid league and doesn't move the needle for TV.
If Hawaii left, they'd invite Sac State to be a travel partner with Davis; because otherwise Davis is floating up in NorCal alone. Hawaii and Davis are travel partners in the Pacific-less BWC.