Even in their current state, the Mountain West is one of the top sporting conferences in the country. And with the imminent collapse of the Big 12, the MWC should see this an an opportunity to be the next BCS conference.
Their yearly football race between BYU, TCU, and Utah is among the most compelling in college's fall season. Oh, and their men's basketball edition sent four teams to the NCAA tournament last season, with a third seed in New Mexico and seventh seeded BYU—both of whom won their first round games.
Even the teams considered to be "lesser schools" athletically have storied histories, with UNLV's basketball tradition and Wyoming producing decent football teams in the 1980s.
And in other sports, the Mountain West is producing at a level that has potential. TCU is currently in the baseball super regionals, and two women's basketball teams qualified for the NCAA tourney.
Now with Nebraska going to the Big Ten, shakeups with the Pac-10, and maybe even Big East, the conference landscape is in disarray. The MWC should take advantage to become an automatic BCS qualifying conference and generate millions more for its schools.
The pitch really isn't that hard if the MWC wants to pick up the remnants of the Big 12 (which could include basketball powerhouses Kansas and Kansas State). They have their own TV network, something that the Big Ten is using to attract its new members, which gives people guaranteed TV revenue and exposure for even the lesser programs. Also, the conference could make a pretty strong case for a BCS bid if they gained Kansas, and pushed TCU and Utah hard, since all those teams have qualified for a big bowl in recent years.
None of this even takes into account that the MWC's most likely expansion candidate is Boise State, and why wouldn't the Broncos want to play in the Mountain West? Instead of its biggest game of the year being its annual out of conference clash with a Top 10 team, they'd have conference games against, possibly, three top-20 teams in a year with TCU, BYU, and Utah.
Expansion in the Mountain West would probably create a pretty top-heavy football conference, but a great basketball division. The shakeup would certainly generate interest, and the MWC should sell teams on the upswing that is undeniably happening for its sports.
Currently, the MWC commissioner Craig Thompson has stated he's playing the waiting game and seeing how the rest of the conference realignments work. But if he's savvy, and something tells me he his, then Thompson will start to get the Big 12's dregs, along with Boise State, to form the newest BCS conference.