Since Idaho will re-join next season to bring the non-football sports to 12 members, how about having Cal Poly-SLO and UC Davis joining the Big Sky as full members, to balance the sides with 14? For instance, here's a sample:
Big Sky North: Eastern Washington, Idaho, Idaho State, Montana, Montana State, North Dakota, Portland State
Big Sky South: Cal Poly-SLO, UC Davis, Northern Arizona, Northern Colorado, Sacramento State, Southern Utah, Weber State
P.S.: Which is the better non-FBS Western-based D-I conference (excluding the WAC)? The non-football Big West or the FCS Big Sky? Just for "step-by-step ladder effect" purposes.
It makes sense but the issue is your last question.
Neither conference is that great, as far as the conference latter goes they'd be pretty much side by side.
If you want to be techincal, the Big Sky has lost members to both the Big West and WCC (Gonzaga/CS-Northridge), and the WCC and Big Sky each lost 1 member to each other (Pacific/UCSB) so the Big Sky would be lower than both if you look at it that way.
Looking at it realistically, the WCC seems to be the best conference after the P12/MW, they have good basketball with Gonzaga, St Mary's, Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, and BYU but they are all private schools so Davis/Poly likely wouldn't really be interested.
The Big Sky would seems to be better than the Big West as they have football and schools from multiple states, however (even for UC-Davis) no school in the Big Sky is closer than the furthest school is in the BW from NoCal to SoCal (omitting Hawaii). Also other than football (which the BW doesn't compete in) and basketball (which neither are really great bb conferences), the Big West is better at most other sports like track, volleyball, softball and the Big Sky doesn't sponsor many sports that have great support in the Big West like men's soccer, men's golf, and baseball. Add in the great academics in the Big West and it more than makes up for any perceived stigma for not sponsoring football IMO.
PAC12 (Big FBS state schools+Stanford/USC)
- (all below would move up if offered)
MWC (smaller FBS state schools)
- (any fb schools below minus BYU and maybe Hawii would move up if offered)
WCC (non fb private schools + BYU)
Big West (non fb Cali state schools +Hawaii, UC Davis, Cal Poly)
Big Sky (FCS small state schools not in Cali + Sac St, Idaho)
- (Cal Poly/UC-Davis could go Big Sky, Sac St could go Big West, FBS teams could leave for FBS league)
WAC (anyone in the Mnt/Pac time zone not in one of the above but all want out)
Seattle/Denver/GCU-WCC (though GCU's chance are slim to none)
NMSU (anywhere, goal is MWC, but would take SBC all sport, CUSA, SLC, or Big Sky if could keep FBS fb or if it dropped down to FCS)
Utah Valley (should add football and join the Big Sky, as there is really no place for them outside of the WAC)
Fan of the Big 12 Conference, the Mountain West Conference and...