Big West and the original Missouri Valley Conference (not the current MVC Football Conference) were also previously 1-A conferences.
But the question remains, if the WAC gets to invite teams as a previous FBS conference, does the same rule not apply to these former FBS conferences?
Funny to think that had the MWC not been an option for Hawaii, and if Cal Poly, UC Davis, and Big Sky member Sac St. had considered an upgrade, the Big West could have pulled a coup with re-sponsoring football and beating out the WAC. It would have meant a real big conference though with new additions SJSU, Hawaii, Sac St and Idaho (former BW member):
* Cal Poly
Cal State Fullerton
Cal State Northridge
Long Beach State
* UC Davis
UC Santa Barbara
* Sac St
Just a shame that there is so little FBS or even FCS football out west. There were movements at Santa Clara, LBSU and even Fullerton and Northridge, but nothing happened. I've always thought UCSB would be perfect too...a tight community with SB, Goleta, etc, a 21k student enrollment.
Glad to see Quinn and I do agree on something, FCS football! I posted a thread about the need for another FCS Western conference (though I think Quinn is more ambitious than I, looks like an FBS conference). I too thought the Big West would be an ideal conference to do this.
Then the Big Sky could grab the remaining Dakota schools and form a solid northern conference which maybe one day could move up as well.
Too add to this, I'd like to see a non scholarship conference out west. It would be for all the schools looking to add football now or in the past, but don't want to add all the scholarships. Then one day it could consider some scholarships. I'd say have the WCC and Big West combine efforts here.
That would be LBSU, CSUF, CSUN, Pacific, UCSB, UCSD from the Big West and USD, St. Mary's, Santa Clara from the WCC and whoever else wanted to add football.
But we've hijacked this thread. As to your question, I'm not sure what you're getting at. These conferences are free to add whomever they'd like. And as far as I know a conference can upgrade en masse if they choose, but none of them want to do so.
I don't think the Southern Conference is allowed to just say, we're moving back up after so long. The WAC is sort of in a limbo stage from what I have read. I don't believe they have an unlimited amount of time to get back to FBS level. I think as of now, in 2012 they will be neither FBS nor FCS.
Quinn might be able to better elaborate on your question.