It is now looking like the Big 12 could absorb some of the Mountain West Conference schools instead of the other way around.
The key to this is the fact that as long as the Big 12 has at least eight schools in place, it keeps its BCS status. That means it keeps its BCS revenue stream in place along with all of its other bowl affiliations—at least for the time being.
It is also possible that it could reap the benefits of the conference’s existing TV deals with FSN and ABC/ESPN. All of this added revenue and exposure would be a boon for the Mountain West schools.
If Pac-16 expansion does come to pass, I expect BYU, Utah, TCU, and Boise State to be added to the Big 12 immediately to get to the eight schools needed and bolster its football cred. The conference could go to 12 schools and keep its Big 12 brand, or it could revert to its old Big 8 brand.
Air Force and Houston would be solid options if the conference wanted to bring in additional schools to get to 12 programs, have a championship game, and try to keep pace in the super-conference race. Two additional programs could come from the other MWC schools or programs such as Cincinnati or Louisville from the Big East, depending on what happens with that conference.
One sticking point to all of this is an NCAA bylaw that says in order for a conference to be recognized by the NCAA, it must have six schools that have played together for a minimum of five years. That rule might be able to be satisfied by the Big 12 bringing in six schools from the MWC. I’m sure attorneys from BYU and several other schools are looking into this as we speak.
Such a conference, especially with a depleted Big East and/or ACC, would probably be able to keep its BCS status moving forward. The big three from the Mountain West and Boise State would shed some of the teams that have been dragging down their conference strength of schedule ratings.
Of course, the question is whether or not the BCS will continue to exist if the Big Ten and SEC decide to expand to 14 or 16 schools. Such a move could be the beginning of some type of playoff format.
It's going to get interesting over the next few days. Stay tuned!
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