The MWC is not a BCS conference. There are no candidates out there you could add to the hodgepodge of media markets that comprise the MWC to make it a BCS conference. If TCU joining didn't do it, it won't happen. That reality has to be sitting in at TCU. I'd list TCU as a possible mutineer who may escape back to CUSA if a slot opens.
Why would TCU want to downgrade from the MWC to the CUSA?
TCU is hoping to use the MWC as a stepping stone to the Big 12.
This is quoting a much older post and things have changed a little since then, but I think it is still mostly correct. It is quite questionable whether being in the MWC helps TCU long term.
The money is better and the esteem is better, but the travel budget is much higher and the TV exposure in Texas is much lower (no one gets the Mountain). I live in Dallas. We talked about it this year, how little TV time TCU gets. That will hurt recruiting. When fuel prices spike up again in 2 years, it will be higher than is was this summer, making travel more expensive than it was then.
SMU has June Jones. UNT has local high school coaching legend Todd Dodge and what will be the nation's first "green" stadium scheduled to be built in 2011. UNT is pretty clearly angling for CUSA and it is a legit possibility.
Recruiting will fall off.
The NFL cowboys have moved from Irving (closer to SMU) to Arlington (halfway between TCU and SMU). This will creat e rising attendance at SMU and further shrinking attendance at TCU. TCU already has seen a drop in attendance as they don't get travelling fans in the MWC. TCU's multi-year attendance average is now below B12 doormat Baylor's due to the move to the MWC.
IMO, they are in a position that will yeild diminishing returns.
Now that said, an outside catalyst (Sports fan President Elect Obama) could bring about major changes with some pressure from the top if he is so inclined.
The BCS is a coalition between the University haves (good academic schools with large endowments and large state flagships) and the big collegiate bowls (who need universities to play in their bowls who can fill 60K stadiums at remote locations all around the US). While I can see both parties in that coalition wanting to add BYU and Utah --- the only non-BCS schools that average more then 40K per game year in and year out and top academic schools to boot, the rest of the MWC schools don't cut the mustard with one group or the other (or both). Any schools the MWC could add to improve their standing (Boise & Fresno) don't cut the mustard academically and would in some ways HURT the MWC's changes with the BCS schools.
So if the MWC cannot acheive BCS membership, what does TCU get out of it? Being lower profile in Texas and nationally by not being on TV won't get them into the B12. That is why I think you may see TCU coming back, especially if CUSA west splits from the east. CUSA gives TCU a big attendance bump, more TV exposure in Texas and nationally, and better recruiting.
All this said, I could be wrong. I was shocked that TCU did as well as they did this year. I am chalking it up to Patterson being a better coach than I gave him credit for being, but I think talent eventually tells the tale, and I do not think TCU in the MWC will allow the school to maintain their recruiting.