Actually, I think the Valley is an exceptionally stable conference for the foreseeable future (which is about ten minutes in this here crazy world).
I loved your post, but I found this initial statement a bit odd. Today I agree that the MVC conference is stable, but Creighton is as much of a basketball power in terms of the development of their program as say Marquette or Xavier. Bradly is not far off that pace either. Someone will try to poach them eventually.
And I think Missou State and So ILL. want to move back up if they can find members who would deliver financial viability (strong, well attended local programs and good TV markets), and if they did, Wichita State (who really should change their name to Wichita University) and Illinois St. probably would as well. Northern Iowa hits me as not being big enough/ready and Indiana State is frankly too small to make the jump back to IA even though they may want to as well. This conference moved down together and I think that while all members would want to stay together, many realize that their financial realities do not include a return to BCS status. The 4 public schools and Marquette and Bradley breaking away could certainly put the conference in jeapordy.
The flipside of the coin is the MVC could embrace change and expand to get enough football members to become a midwestern hybrid ala the Big East. I think this is VERY possible if the conference is so inclined.
Getting up to 8 FBS members would not likely be hard. They could admit all 4 Dakota schools. UND, NDSU, and SDSU would probably all be willing to expand their facilities and make the jump to be say a 20K attendance FBS school. (My impression is they jumped to FCS to test the water for FBS with the understanding that being Montana --- a profitable FCS power --- would not be the end of the world.) That would give them 7 football members. USD is too small, but they could come as well as a non-football member until enrollment made a jump viable. Their inclusion would make it a total no-brainer for both states.
(I am not going to argue whether they should jump to FBS, but I will state that they recruit exceptionally well in an area that appears capable of supporting at least two more FBS schools---making that statement based on Minne and Wisconsin only having one school each with very large populations AND the Dakota schools performances the last few years. Sometime fortune smiles on you and a scenario presents itself that cannot be passed up. The MVC and the Dakota schools could really help each other.)
Northern Illinois might consider bailing on the MAC to join an FBS Illinois State and Southern Illinois. The competition would be similiar, but the branding opportunity is much better for them in an FBS MVC. That gives you real leverage in all of the Illinois markets including America's #3 market, Chicago (N. Ill's native market).
Arkansas State might bail on the Sunbelt for an FBS MVC hybrid. Ark. State actually has a very well developed BB program (averaged 4K+ per game over the last 5 years in the sunbelt). They are very close to Missou State and S. Ill, which dramatically helps travel costs.
UNT might be willing to bolt as well and rejoin. This would put them in a market with Dallas and Chicago local representation. The only athletic advantage the Sunbelt has over the MVC, is that they play FBS. UNT has been a good basketball school lately and the MVC has become a power basketball conference. The WAC doesn't make a ton of sense for UNT, but a hybrid MVC with Arkansas State would.
Finally the branding of these schools are right. "X State", North X, Southern X... these schools fit together in terms of branding a rising confernce.
Could the conference at that point attract schools like Houston and Memphis and leads them to rejoin? Probably not, but it isn't out of the realm of possibility that a scenario could occur that drop both schools from BCS consideration and lead both schools to embrace an FBS MVC. Great, well attended basketball. Good other sports. FBS football. Similar university views. Good footprint. with Houston and Memphis, the conference would be very high profile in Dallas, Houston, and Chicago --- that is PHAT TV revenue....
But, here's one way of approaching it:
Let's throw all of the midwestern non-FCS D-I schools into a pot and stir it around--basically the Missouri Valley, the Horizon, and the Summit Leagues.
First, deal with some of the outliers:
Centenary probably drops out of D-I by 2025.
Southern Utah finally gets into the Big Sky.
Youngstown State (only an outlier football-wise) gets into the MAC.
That cleans up the map a bit.
I agree all these scenarios are reasonable.
Let's also spice things up by, as Quinn suggests, by moving St. Louis, Dayton, and Xavier back to a Midwestern league. Further, let's give Denver a slightly more geographically reasonable home than the Sun Belt.
Let's go ahead and give Wichita State a football program.
That gives us an 11-team D-I scholarship (possibly lower-tier FCS) football league (Valley?)
North Dakota State
South Dakota State
I have truncated the rest of your post because another newer (and ANOTHER IMO quite wise) poster posted an alternate view that makes a ton more sense to me than yours --- you seemed to lose a lot of enthusiasm about here in your post---, even though technically his may not truly be likely either. I'll bounce that thread to the top of the list in a minute so you can see what I mean.
I am going to touch on the football side of this group in that thread, because I think that thread was unfairly overlooked.
I think Charlotte, St. Louis, Xavier, and Dayton got into the A10 for east coast legitimacy, anticipating the time when the Big East breaks. While I think it would make more sense for those schools to be in a conference like the MVC, academics probably played a big role. I have to think they are angling for BE BB conference spots in 2010. Those BE universities appear to be more "peer" members.
The competition and reputation may be better in the A10, but the basketball programs themselves (fan attendance) are better in the MVC.