I was trying to work within the existing NCAA rules and this is the best I could come up with given the premise that the NCAA decides the formation of new conferences is ineveitable and neccessary to keep a number of it's member schools in a good financial situation --- and to keep the NCAA out of lawsuits --- so they add at least 1 more play in game and possibly two creating up to 3 new conference autobids.
I think that any evaluation has to take into account the change of BB head coaches at Memphis. They have gone from John Calipari to a first time head coach known as a good recruiter, but from a different region. That sounds like too many gambles, IMO. Their attendance is still at the elite levels and will likely stay in the top 20 at least, but I think the most likely scenario is that on the court Memphis falls back into the pack of schools near the top of CUSA Basketball. Tulsa probably emerges as the new power in CUSA, but only by a small margin. Really, Tulsa, Memphis, UTEP, UAB, Houston and UCF probably don't have much of a difference between them on the court anymore.
Big 10: No Changes/Happy.
PAC 10: No Changes/Happy.
SEC: No Changes/Happy.
Big 12: No Changes/UT is mostly content.
ACC: No Changes/Not thrilled, but content to wait for FSU's and Miami's resurgence.
Big East Football: Content with the league makeup but would probably like to add a football only #9 for scheduling. ECU would love to be that team with an eye on future full membership, but the BB schools probably won't go along with that. The BB schools would probably want Army and Navy in for football-only spots, but that doesn't really help the scheduling so the football schools will probably keep the status quo.
Big East BB: No Changes/Happy.
MWC: No Changes
CUSA: with no BE for ECU, and a tourney slot out there, I'm going to say ECU and Marshall would push for split. I think it would be a 6/6 split.
CUSA (e): Memphis, So. Miss, UAB, UCF, Marshall, ECU. CUSA East are not going to win the BCS hunt on their academics. If they get there it will be on fan attendance.The goal would be to keep them as close to the MWC as possible in the BCS arguement and to try to restore some of their lost BB luster. Charlotte rejoining is IMO a no-brainer. They need a home for their FB program and have rivalries with the CUSA schools that should help attendance. Still that doesn't really help the football arguement. IMO the most logical choice in that scenario is to try to land Army and Navy for football. They have a history. Army and Navy draw very well. This scenario creates a situation where average CUSA attendance will be in the 35's or so. That is just what they need. IMO the logical step is to add the 3 best attended BB (ie. non-football schools) they can add to get to 10. IMO, the list should be, in this order, St. Louis, George Mason, VCU, and UALR. Would St. Louis jump back in? I don't know. I think CUSA can get 3 of the 4. That sets them up strongly for football and basketball. Maybe down the road they can go after schools like Temple for all sports, but I think they'll fall a bit short today.
SWC: (new bid 1): UTEP, SMU, Rice, Houston, Tulsa, Tulane. I am reluctant to say this, but the Texas schools, especially the privates, have not been universities that set themselves up for athletic success. They generally do not think proactively. Ideally, I'd love to see them go hard after regional private school basketball powers like St. Louis and Creighton right out of the gate and send notice that they are going to be a top BB conference with top academic schools. Moves like that might seriously interest TCU. TCU could think ---their football is moderate, their BB is as strong or better than the MWC. Travel would be cut and revenue and academic standing would likely be higher ---They might think what the hey, I'll rejoin for that. I strongly suspect adding Non-football schools to bump up the BB stock of this conference, likely won't be considered by any of the schools but Tulsa. I think the SWC would invite TCU to rejoin, but the 6 schools simply don't have the star power to draw away TCU. The MWC is legitimately a conference that is not all too far behind the BE as potenitally a BCS caliber conference and --- so far --- TCU has not paid much of a price for joining. (That might change if SMU and UNT emerge.) With NO TCU, UNT is in. It's large alumni base would be energized by admission to CUSA and would dramatically help DFW viewership and would help attendance at SMU, Rice, & Houston (a lot of UNT grads in Houston too). They have a strong BB program (on the court anyway) and nice facilities and a quickly growing athletic budget that will soon be one of the largest in this group of schools. There are some good long term all-sports candidates in the region, but none that push this new SWC up to the MWC level or even the new CUSA level. A smart long term move might be to add UTSA and Texas State and soon to be very large athletic budgets (for non-BCS schools) to help attendance with their large alumni bases and pull in the Autin and San Antonio DMAs, but I can't see this collection of schools doing that. While UTSA is starting up a football program with a national title winning coach, I think Texas State would be considered too much of a PR hit to their BCS arguement. I think La Tech is still probably the #8 school based on their history with most of the SWC schools and their slight traveling fan boost to Tulane and the Houston Schools. I think the SWC would sit for a few years and then look at adding Texas St & UTSA with the next batch of sensible expansion candidates.
A10 (-1/2): I could see them either sitting put if they lose 2 or adding another BB school if they lose 1. On the rise Cleveland State or Catholic Private Detroit Mercy make the most sense to be Duquesne's travel partner. They add good markets and to bridge the powers of the conference, Xavier and Dayton.
WAC: (-1): No Changes/Mostly content losing La Tech.
CAA: (-2): The loss of 2 schools brings the CAA down to a BB perfect 10 members.
Horizon (-1): I could see the Horizon stealing IPFW -- Not a lot of choices in the Summitt and they draw alright and it is at least centrally located. Oakland is another possibility if they lose Detriot Mercy.
Summit: (-1): This would erase the flexibility of the Summitt by dropping them to 7 core schools. Oakland is a core member school with 5 years of service. IPFW is a core member school, but they could only serve as core school #7 until the 2012-2013 season when they will have been with the conference for 5 years and could serve as a 5 year member core school. Now if you include the 2 year buffer the NCAA grants, really you only have to prevent Oakland (if they are the choice) from leaving until 2010-2011. That's probably doable. The summit loss would be a great blow to the GWC though as the idea is likely to move SUU over to the GW sometime after the next tumbler hits the Summitt conference and no later than 2015-2016 (Again riding the NCAA 2 year buffer. NDSU and SDSU become core members in 2017-2018 and would have been with the conference for 5 years at that point). With the loss of a summitt core member school that becomes more difficult. The Summit would have to dig up a replacement Core school to do that. The obvious candidate is Denver. Denver would almost certainly join the Summit, but my guess is that the GW/Summitt management is trying to wait them out and get them to join the GW as another core member to help push that conference to viability. Perhaps they could do a deal with the Sunbelt and add NO? That, I think, would work. New Orleans is struggling and the Sunbelt probably wants to dump them without taking the PR hit of dumping them. Getting them placed in the summitt is probably a win/win for both conferences.
GW: (new Bid 2): This is where it gets really interesting, IMO.
School Previous Affiliation Postseason Eligible by Core by
Texas-Pan American Independent --- Core
Chicago State Independent --- Core
Utah Valley Independent 2009-10 2017-2018
NJIT Independent 2009-10 2017-2018
North Dakota Div. 2 2013-14 2021-2022
South Dakota Div. 2 2013-14 2021-2022
Houston Baptist NAIA 2014-15 2017-2018
Seattle University Div. 2 2013-14 2021-2022
University of Denver --- Core
Possible summit to GWC relocation candidates
SUU Summit --- Core
NDSU Summit 2008-09 2016-2017
SDSU Summit 2008-09 2016-2017
Southland Postseason Eligible by Core by
Central Arkansas 2018-2019
all 11 others are core....
If Ch. State and UTPA are the GWC's core members, they need 4 more to satisfy the 6/5. UVU and NJIT will be come members by 2017-2018. If the 2 year exception rule could be liberally applied to a new conference (this is certainly not the intent of the rule, but maybe lawyers could make this case), the league could potentially have their NCAA bid by 2015-2016 --- if they can dig up 2 more core members and get them to start playing 5 seasons before 2017-2018 = 2013-14 to satisy the 6/5 and add a 7th core by 2015-16 (UTA? Probably not likely. A scandal ridden TAMU-CC? hmmmm...). Worst case 2017-2018 is possible. Denver will need a home by then and the GW is their logical home, but that is only 3. If the Summit needs SUU, then SUU can't agree to take a 3 year hit to swap over in 2013-2014 in exchange for long term security and (eventually) less travel, to get the conference to 4 core members. It becomes much more difficult. Prying away TAMU-CC then by 2013-14 becomes a priority. And they won't come willingly.
(In a best case scenario, The A10 loses 0 or 2 schools and does not rob a school from the Horizon. The Horizon in turn does not rob a school from the Summit and the Summit can ride out the tumblers this time around --- allowing the SUU migration.
But hold on a second...What about The southland 4? With the snub of the southland 4, the great West's plan of getting a tourney autobid by 2015-ish is in danger. Consider the fact that the southland has 11 core schools and UCA who will be core in 2018-2019. Now my take is that the southland schools don't want to start a nasty divorce. I think they are hoping some higher conference sweeps in and offers them an all-sports membership in a nice tight conference with short travel and FBS football. But the scenario I have laid out above doesn't really set up for that. I think they are preparing for this eventuality too. I think they would grab the two non-football schools (UTA and TAMU-CC) and break away. Now recall that the Southland only has 11 core schools. I think one of their likely scenarios considered is to wait until 2016-2017 to do this (which allowing the 2 year grace period allows the remaining southland schools to retain their autobid.). Now for that plan, they would probably go after alocal basketball school --- UTPA, NO, or ORU --- for their 7th, which would create a series of tumblers that ultimately screws the GW. (although they could also go after a school like ULL --- another legit scenario that I don't want to cover as this post is already long.)
I think the summit/GW leadership is very proactive and would try to take steps to address this. I think they would try to cut a deal with the UTSA, Texas State, and Lamar (and SHSU if they do decide to upgrade). The 3 schools could effectively join the GW in basketball giving the conference the needed core members as soon as possible. As the southland was like 30th in the nation in basketball attendance, I doubt there is a lot of money for staying in the southland beyond each schools portion of their 1/127th share for their autobid. I'll admit no scenario comes to mind that makes joining the GW temporarily and taking a 5 year tourney money hit seem more worthwhile than just breaking away on their own, but maybe that could be worked out. It would save the southland some angst. In return the conference would create a conference for them that would split off after the Dakotas are core.
Sunbelt: (-2): The Sunbelt is in the enviable situation of having a ton of potential suitors. They can pick and chose. They can add Jacksonville St. & Ga So. and increase their stature in their footprint, get to 12 football only while dramatically cutting their travel budget.