NJ and Long Island kids have a significant presence at most east coast universities. Does that make Rutgers-Camden a top notch university? No.
San Diego State's requirements for California residents is roughly a 2.5 GPA and 900 SAT for a 2900 eligibility score. Arizona State requires either a 3.0 or 1040 SAT. Oregon State, the weakest school in the Pac-10, requires a 3.0 GPA.
Look at the numbers again. Of the SAT and ACT scores of middle 50% of freshmen, every Pac-10 school outranks San Diego State. This despite the overwhelming majority of their admits coming from in state. California isn't producing all their smart freshmen. Two other schools outrank San Diego State in this measurement: UC-San Diego and U of San Diego.
According to USNews, SD State and UNLV are Tier 4 schools, way behind every Pac-10 school and most UC schools. By any measurement, San Diego State is well behind the Pac-10 academically.
A good school it may be. And at the top of the Cal State system. But it's no one UCLA, Stanford, USC, Cal or even Oregon State would want to claim as a peer institution. BYU, Colorado, Colorado State and Utah are more likely to receive a bid before SD State or UNLV. And then there's always Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.
You look at the basic requirements for admittance at the various schools, not what the actual admits were. For the Fall of 2008 San Diego State will be admitting 7,022 of their 61,492 applicants with an average high school GPA of 3.44.
Utah is a quality institution, but like their partner school BYU, the strong religious influence forbids athletic competition on Sundays, which is a deal breaker for the Pac Ten which reserves its rights to have its member institutions available to play on Sundays when the TV contracts require it. That is a clause they have built into their agreement with the MWC, that it can not require them to play on Sundays. Colorado State and Wyoming may be forced to go the WAC or Big Sky if the MWC folded up shop.