Most of the fun with this forum are predicting what will happen if there is a change. And sometimes the posts are just for fun.
I thought a fun idea would be to fiddle around with some "What if" scenarios.
So here's the hypothetical:
The MWC has recently put together a plan to gain greater access to the BCS.
What if the BCS said, we'll create 1 or 2 spots in 2012 for the best (2) conference winners from non BCS conferences, but you need to have 12+ teams in your conference, the same as the SEC, Big XII, ACC as well as CUSA and MAC.
OK, so the hypothetical is that in order to gain access to one of the 2 additional spots you would have to have 12 teams to satisfy the BCS conferences. I am also guessing that in the "Quinn hypothetical" the conference won't get a lame 9M half share, but a full 18M full share. This hypothetical suggests that CUSA will stay intact. I don't know if I buy that, but I'll work with that as part of the rules for now. That being the case it suggests that all things being equal, conferences would go after winners first and then make it work for their conference financially later, so...
* MWC adds (3): Fresno St., Boise St, Hawaii (football only), and Denver (non-Football)
The MWC adds the best combination of top market and good market penetration that the WAC possesses in Fresno St. Boise and Hawaii are the highest profile programs in the WAC due to their on the field domination of the league in recent years. Nevada-Reno doesn't win enough and only adds what? 20% of a small population state? --- So they were leiminated from my list. I toyed with UTEP, but UTEP has not broken 9 wins with any consistency --- Hawaii has. The MWC would throw some money at the Big West to allow Hawaii to be the 10th school in their non-football conference. Denver boosts the MWC in their most important market, offers shorter travel, and is academically strong, helping them more than full membership for Hawaii would help the conference.
Leaving a WAC of: Nevada, Utah State, Idaho, San Jose State, New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech
* WAC adds (3) + (3 for departing teams): with the cream of their league gone, the WAC would be near financial collapse. On the positive side they would still have their autobid with 6 members, making reloading possible. Assuming that occurred, the first rule of business would be survival. The idea of a BCS slot would be a very long shot --- something that occurred every blue moon. The caliber of the conference would drop below the Sunbelt, even if their reputation may be slightly better with the presence of Nevada and La Tech. The WAC would have one market worth a darned, the Bay area DMA. Left to it's own devices, SJ State would likely collapse without "nearby" rival Fresno to help build California support. More local competition would have to be dug up to prop up SJ St. Sac State is the logical 1st add with it's 20K stadium even though it's BB facilities suck. The stadium(s) make football possible, the DMA is great, and the travel is good for the western schools. In terms of DMA, it is a better situation than Fresno. That creates the following western travel partners: SJ/SAC, Nevada/USU, leaving Idaho stranded without a travel partner. Portland State would work as their travel partner. They would be another needed large market and PG&E sounds like it will again soon be a more tradional football capable stadium, making them a viable add. Additionally, they have strong BB and will soon have a tolerable BB Arena.
LA Tech and to a much lesser degree NMSU only stay in the WAC because of the high profile big 3. They would demand a better divisional footprint for them to stay, creating a NW/SW divisional setup. I think the WAC would decide that that is a better face saving measure and more financially viable than to let them go and dragging an entire inland division up from FCS (Montana, Montana St., NDSU, SDSU, UND, USD).
I think LA Tech would demand ULL and the conference itself would go hard after UNT to anchor their Southwestern division. I think UNT would balk over the same issus as last time ---rivals too far away and the bad media exposure of belonging to western timezone conference. I think the conference would go after UTSA and Texas State with the idea of giving UNT a legit group of similar tolerable conference mates. At the insistance of UTSA and Texas State (and in case UNT would not bite) Lamar would take the UNT slot as the SW division's 6th member, creating a viable division, but also creating awkward travel (travel partners: ULL+La Tech, Texas State+UTSA, Lamar and NMSU???) and opening the door for either more schools or non-football members to make it work.
North: San Jose State, Sacramento St., Nevada, Utah State, Idaho, PSU
South: New Mexico State, UTSA, Texas State, Lamar, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech
Now it is entirely possible UNT might rethink their decision looking at the sunbelt vs. this setup ---at least short term. UNT needs to win and have stong attendance to get into CUSA. They have no opponents any of their fans care about in the sunbelt. This would be a lot more attractive along those lines. It could cut UNT's travel budget, give them more Texas exposure for recruiting, and would give them something usually not seen at games in Denton --- a travelling fan boost to home attendance. It would be a great short term home....If UNT decided they wanted in, the WAC would likely go for it considering UNT's facilities, market, and that their athletic budget is going to more than double in the next 10 years. The WAC might go to a 14 for football +2 in basketball (for 16) for better travel partners. Oral Roberts would be a good travel partner for Lamar, would add Tulsa (a decent market) and would really help the conference in BB. UNT would them be a more tolerable travel partner for NMSU (DFW airport to EL Paso). (When UNT leaves I would be sorely tempted to offer a sweetheart deal to West Texas to upgrade from DII--- Mostly because I love WT, but also because they'd be a good travel partner for NMSU, have a strong athletic program overall, and draw well to their 20K stadium. Still schools like UCO probably make as much or more sense.)
On the west coast, the smart play would be adding UC-Davis for football and hoping a Spanos sponsored stadium upgrade appears and....drumroll....DII San Franciso State for non-football. I can imagine everyone spewing milk on this idea, but consider this --- the WAC is vulnerable to implode as long and SJ State is isolated. SF State may be a pretty weak athletic program even at the DII level, but there is no BB competition from the NBA in SF and their is some talent in the Bay. They could become a pretty reasonable BB school in short order with a modest investment for an expansion of 2000 seat SFSU main Gymnasium and a semi-name coach. They could become a draw in the community. They have a very large student body at just under 29,000. They would really help the WAC in the Bay area market as the only BB competition is the private school Dons (Members of the stable private religious school conference, the WCC). If the Dons can average 3K, I have to think SDSU can sellout their gym at the DI level. SFSU and SJSU would be travel partners with Sac St and UC Davis as travel partners.
North: San Francisco State (non-football), San Jose State, UC-Davis, Sacramento St., Nevada, Utah State, Idaho, PSU
South: New Mexico State, UNT, UTSA, Texas State, Lamar, Oral Roberts (non-football), Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech
LOL, I think this is more viable/stable long-term than the current WAC.
Leaving a Sunbelt of: UNO (non-football), ULM, UALR (non-football), Arky St, WKU, MTU, USA, Troy, FAU, FIU
* Sunbelt adds (4) drops (2 & 3 departing): The Sunbelt would actually come out of this looking like a rose. With UNT, their Western media anchor gone, the sunbelt would be free to pull back to a more travel friendly footprint and rebuild with the cream of FCS ---a plus in an environment that rewards on the field excellence. With Quinn's 12 for football for a BCS bid rule, a ton of FCS schools would be looking to move up. A larger conference might be a big plus for the sunbelt. Would they go with something crazy under today's structure? 16 teams? 18 teams? 20? (kidding)
UNO and UALR would be booted. UALR would catch on with the MVC or the Summitt; UNO with the GW.
Without a predator CUSA East and with a smaller footprint, I have thrown just about every legit southern upgrade candidate I could think of into this conference. Almost every university on this list is a mid-sized public at least, all have good stadiums, and most have good attendance that suggests the jump is viable.
I envision this as 2 9 team divisions playing 8 in-division games with a championship game designed to bump the winner over the WAC & CUSA winners and the MWC runnerup. For scheduling ease it would probably only be that large for football, with several of the aligned schools ---the weaker BB programs and the programs too strong to move to the sunbelt --- playing in some different conference for the other sports. I think it would have 12 all sports members.
North Division: UCA (football only), ULM, Arky St, Western Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky, Middle Tennessee State, Appalachian St, The Citadel (football only), James Madison (football only), Old Dominion (football only)
South Division: UL Monroe (in south for FB only), Jacksonville St, Georgia St, South Alabama, Troy, Georgia Southern (football only), Florida A&M (football only), Florida Atlantic, Florida International,