With news of South Dakota going to the Summit League, North Dakota working on their nickname situation, Eastern Washington possibly dropping football, and Cal State-Fullerton possibly resurrecting it, I wonder if its time for the Big Sky to finish off the Great West.
The key would be Sacramento State going to the Big West and playing Great West (or Big West) football alongside UC Davis, Cal Poly SLO, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The Big Sky would then invite three more schools:
Denver (Sun Belt)
Utah Valley (Great West)
The Big Sky could then split into divisions for basketball:
North - Seattle, Portland State, Eastern Washington, Idaho State, Montana, Montana State
South - Northern Arizona, Weber State, Utah Valley, Northern Colorado, Denver
The unbalanced schedule would be temporary, until one of the following happens:
Grand Canyon moves up from Division II (travel partner for Northern Arizona)
San Diego State drops football and leaves the WAC (travel partner for Northern Arizona)
A Big Sky member falls below Division I requirements
The two Texas Great West schools are stuck hoping for a Southland invite. Chicago State and NJIT are forced to find more geographically compatible homes.
Some pretty drastic changes you got here. My own observations:
* Sac St has had years now to join the Great West and has had no interest. But if the Big West sponsored football, and due to budget issues, Sac St. admins favored an all-sports switch to the Big West, then it could happen. I agree it is key though.
* But if Fullerton adds football, it's likely that the Big West would sponsor football since they'd have 3 members for all-sports, and UND, USD and SUU would simply be associate members in the Big West (much like the A10 to CAA name change a few years back).
* Sac St. would be the 4th Big West all-sports member in the 7 team football league.
* It is very unlikely that the Big Sky would make the moves you mentioned. They require all-sports membership when they sponsor a sport (which is why Sac St. was in the Big Sky for all-sports, not just football). The Big Sky toyed with the idea of a SINGLE non-football school for scheduling purposes (9 football, 10 basketball) but that was years ago. They have had no interest in the available schools including Denver. In fact, they invited No. Colorado to get into the basic Denver market while getting an all-sports member. If the Big Sky were to lose Sac St., they'd likely have (2) options:
~ invite Southern Utah for all-sports
~ invite both NDSU and SDSU as they'd be travel partners
* It's unlikely that the Big Sky would ever expand to 11, an uneven number, and split into two divisions.
* If EWU or say, some other Big Sky member were to drop football or downgrade, you'd likely see the Dakota scenarios play out. Again, SUU MIGHT be a candidate for a single expansion since they are ideal for both NAU and Weber St. But in scenarios where the league looked for stability in numbers, the Dakota St. schools will surely be in play.
* Denver and Seattle are hoping for WCC invites, with Seattle gaining more appeal should the WCC ever decide to expand.
* Again, with more appealing candidates such as the Dakota State schools and even SUU (since they have football), it's unlikely that a conference like the Big Sky would ever look at Grand Canyon until they do something spectacular (ala UNLV's rise to eventually get to Mountain West status).
* San Diego St. is a proud member of the Mountain West...the same Mountain West that is pushing to be included in the BCS. They aren't going to be dropping football (and if they did, the state admins would put them in the all-California Big West).
* NAU is an interesting situation. SUU would be the ideal school to the Big sky for the NAU location. But they've been in the Big Sky for 40 years. They just aren't going to leave. dbackjon can add in here. They would be an interesting addition to the Big West though, and in a Big West football scenario, they'd be a 5th all-sports member along with Sac St.
* The Great West is simply the new Summit League. I used to say "when looking to upgrade and seeking a home, look no further than the Mid-Con (now Summit). Well, that is the case now for the Great West. They will take any independents that upgrade. Or schools that shoot themselves in the foot like Chicago St. If you recall, they left the Mid-Con hoping for better conference, but found no takers. They went to the Great West since nobody would have them. Fast forward and the Mid-Con/summit is now a midwest conference with only 3 members outside the region...Chicago St. really lost out on that one.
* If the Southland were to lose a school or two to FBS like UTSA, Lamar or Texas St., they would likely need a football school to come in. Jacksonville St. might be a candidate. After that, perhaps some other OVC school(s) or even a regional D2 football-playing upgrade. But they could look at non-football schools, but you'd think Oral Roberts and Centenary of the Summit might be more appealing. But UTPA and Houston Baptist might be right there as options, so who knows.
* This is gospel: a D2 school with football that upgrades will always be more attractive to a conference with football than a D2 upgrade without football...or a GW school without football. Central Arkansas and Northern Colorado are key examples.
* Chicago State and NJIT have found the only homes willing to take them.
Discussion from the Big West thread:viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1687&start=10
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