14 Teams seems okay...but i don't like UTEP being in the mix...yea they're in Texas, but they are so far apart from all the other Texas Schools that's why i think it's not a bad idea for them to be in the WAC, especially with New Mexico State now in the conference...
UTEP has not wanted to be in the same conference as NM St. If the WAC were not as precarious as it currently is, I don't think they would currently be in the same conference. There are a number of posts on this in the threads for the WAC. Here are two reasons that I think might have been huge, but are understated on this board.
I think, I may be wrong here, that for a long time in the old WAC, UTEP was UNM's balance. Their Rival. UNM did not want the weak NM St program as a rival. UTEP was there in a bigger city to take the place of NM St. UTEP came out pretty well in the deal. They got legitimacy in mirroring a #1 state school (almost like El Paso was it's own state) and they could play NM St. as a cheap travel opponent OOC to boot if they wanted too. Now they probably decided that that was not a good idea as they were the #7 or #8 football school in Texas and NM St is the #2 in NM and the two schools are really close ---like 30 miles apart. That is very close for 2 div 1 schools with a big, not huge population to draw from. UTEP owned El Paso recruiting---why open it up to another competitor unneccessarily? They didn't want NM St. to profit too much from having a nearby opponent and eventually grow to displace UTEP in the WAC. By NOT playing them they forced NM St. to spend more money on travel and less on facility upgrades in addition to making it harder to recruit El Paso.
When UTEP was abandoned by the MWC, UTEP still had the other Texas schools. They could make an equal claim to being the #5 school in texas behind the Big 12 schools.
Now those schools are gone. As it stands, UTEP is the #10 school in Texas in terms of football fame---even with their fantastic coaching hire. In NM, UTEP now is mirroring a long tread upon #2 state school. To make matters worse, they are doing it on even terms.
The second point, I want to discuss is the TV market. UTEP and NM St. have shared the same TV market. Schools in the same TV market do not want to be in the same conference in general and frequently conferences do not want multiple schools in the same market. The reasons for this are pretty obvious if you think about it.
TCU and SMU are in the Dallas/Fort Worth media market as is UNT. TCU and SMU have changed conferences repeatedly since the SWC broke up, but UNT has never been invited to join their conferences. In fact, i am pretty sure both schools refuse to play UNT in football ---although UNT has continuously persued such an arrangement, and it would draw pretty well (comparitively).
That should seem odd---especially at SMU where they count your tickets on the way in AND the way out (sorry. I couldn't resist.). The reason TCU and SMU don't play them is that that would be an acknowledgement that UNT is improving. On top of that if TCU and SMU lost to UNT semi-regularly, how could those old SWC schools recruit DFW effectively? By not playing UNT, the power of conference tiers helps TCU and SMU recruit. Recruiting helps teams wins. Supposing they did play annually and 5 years from now all 3 schools were drawing 24-28K per game and UNT had split the last few games with TCU and owned SMU. Not at all far fetched---if they played. Which DFW school is a power conference going to come after SMU, TCU (both enrollments are ~10K) or UNT (enrollment 30k+)?
A conference can add one of the two schools and claim a large remote TV market in their media packets. One trip from Wyoming to Dallas or Clemson to Boston per season per sport is expensive, but surviveable. Two trips gets to be very expensive.
Plus TV think in terms of total TV sets. Overlaps don't usually count twice.
From UTEP's perspective, what happens if NM St. athletics take off and UTEP's falters. UTEP is the farthest outpost of the WAC. The WAC could jettison them if another school arrives that fits the footprint better and offers a UNIQUE, untapped market---N. Arizona? Portland St.? Sacramento St?
This doesn't even cover the fact that UTEP is forgotten in Texas, by reporters, by recruits, by the legislature, and by broadcast sports. UTEP is in a losing position right now. They despirately need out of the WAC and into a conference with texas schools.
(In the maps thread there is talk that Las Cruces, NM---home of NM St.---may actually be considered to be in both the El Paso market AND the Albequeque/NM market now. If that is the case officially, that would mean NM St. has a ton more TV clout than UTEP and the WAC frankly would be wise to dump UTEP and those travel costs as soon as a replacement is available/ they can survive the 6/5 rule.)