No More Expansion...
Craig Thompson has said that the MWC is no longer expanding, for now.
Big Ten and Pac-10 expansion bad news for the MWC
With Utah gone, the MWC is on a razor's edge of making or not making AQ status. The Big Ten and Pac-10 have both elevated their average conference ranking, which widens the gap for the MWC to make up. Right now the MWC just broke even, they didn't get better.
It is hard to believe that the fate of the MWC in the hands of New Mexico and San Diego St.? Yes, you can say that everyone can improve, but these two schools can make the biggest difference.
Kind of like the television show The Biggest Loser . The largest people tend to make the biggest impact in the results. Since the MWC can't trim the fat, they are relying on schools like these to make their weight easier to pull (or drag)
How to get into the MWC: Be a no-brainer
The blueprint is in place for any school that wants to get into the MWC. TCU was a no-brainer because of all the success it had. Boise St. at the time was not invited, but they fought on until they became a no-brainer.
I still can't believe that in 10 short years, Boise St. has gone from the FCS to the MWC. That really means that if and when there is another that follows their footsteps, any school, former FCS or not, can get in if they make themselves to be a no-brainer.
At this time, which schools have the most potential?
For a little while I was getting pretty amped about the possibility of getting Kansas and Kansas St. (possibly Mizzou) into the conference, but we will put that one on the back burner for the time being.
I have gone over some of these before in terms of the non-AQ schools. I would say that Houston is the closest in the MWC's reach. Nevada still needs to win marquee games and Fresno St. keeps the games competitive throughout but lacks the killer instinct to finish their opponent.
From there, there is some separation into the next small group of SMU and UTEP. If it were possible to take UTEP's fanbase that travels well, and combine them with SMU's financial resources and head coach, you would have the foundation for a long-term successful program.
SMU just needs to keep on winning and hopefully the fans will come (opponents fans filling the stadium up don't count). Their stadium is already designed to expand to 50k relatively easily if need be. UTEP is in too much of a funk right now, so I can't see that happening anytime soon.
Can any other school that I failed to mention pop up on the MWC radar? Of course. Boise St. popped up on the radar almost immediately. Since Boise's emergence however, I haven't seen another school pop up the way they did and at the rate they did it.
The bottom line
If the MWC misses out on an AQ bid for the 2012 season, look for Craig Thompson to act quickly. The next expansion consideration period is not that far away, just three years, so teams that really want into the MWC still have time to prove their value.
If the MWC, however, does get an AQ bid, they will NOT be looking to expand unless either one of these two things occur: 1. The Big 12 breaks up and we get another shot at Kansas or Kansas St. again. OR 2. The MWC television deal with expires and the MWC can negotiate for more money for playing a conference title game.