Current Conference Realignment is Over, but Aftershock is Expected
A lot of people were surprised that Karl Benson did not pull the trigger on a invitation of a new team or two when Boise State left for the Mountain West Conference.
The majority of Benson's comments about expansion and Boise State's move to the MWC had originally brought thoughts of needing to bring on another FCS team. They have done this many, many times, but as my broker puts it, "Historical gains do not guarantee future return."
The difference this time around is that the seismic shifting that almost occurred, and may have an aftershock three years from now, would reach all the way to the WAC.
MWC Has Two More Years to Get an AQ Bid, or Else...
All conferences have completed their second year of a four-year evaluation in determining whether or not an automatic qualifying bid for future BCS bowl games will be extended.
The Mountain West Conference has enjoyed back-to-back excellent seasons, and what do they have to show for it? Unfortunately not much. They are teetering on the possibility of being included, but nothing is definite. If the MWC has even an average season during the final two years it is out of consideration. This is due to the bottom-third of the conference.
If an AQ bid is denied, expect BYU, TCU, Boise St., and Air Force to take a hard look at making some moves to put them into an AQ bid situation sooner than later.
Although the Big 12 Conference reprimanded him, Tommy Tuberville had it right when he said that he's not sure how long a 10-team league will last.
In my opinion, it is only a matter of time before the conference disbands. I still think that Kansas, Kansas St., Iowa St., Baylor, and Missouri (maybe) will be looking for a home.
I can still see a scenario where BYU, TCU, Boise St., Air Force, and probably UNLV (for bowl game purposes) merge into the Big 12 in order to maintain the AQ bid.
WAC Possibilities: Before and After
Some of the names that were being thrown out as expansion possibilities for the WAC were Sacramento St., UC Davis, Cal-Poly, Montana, Montana St., UNT, UTSA, and Texas St.
Of this group, the only two that seem ready to for the invite would be Montana and UNT. Montana is one of the only FCS schools that actually makes money from their football program. North Texas, after giving the Heisman to the WAC in 2004, is realizing that the Sun Belt isn't working out quite they way that they had hoped.
The new question that Karl Benson is waiting for is whether to pull the trigger on a team like Montana or North Texas (again), or wait to see how bad the damage of a potential MWC separation looks. Another question that Karl Benson is considering is whether a four-team MWC (Colorado St., Wyoming, New Mexico, and San Diego St.) would have enough power to bring the top schools of the WAC into the MWC, or if the MWC would implode.
WAC Goes to 12 Teams
I don't think that this sounds too far-fetched, because these four teams from the MWC are a time bomb, and it could blow up in the faces of the MWC elite.
That being said, the remaining four of Colorado St., Wyoming, New Mexico, and San Diego St. seem more appealing for the WAC to pick up than Montana or North Texas. I think that Montana and North Texas should get invited if this scenario doesn't play out as I have laid it out.
Let's look at what the new conference would look like:
New Mexico State
San Jose St.
San Diego St.
Wait and See...
It will be interesting to see what will happen during the conference realignment aftershock, but most should agree that Karl Benson made the right move. Eight teams mean more money to divide in their Boise-less condition.
If the conference can produce enough bowl-eligible teams, they have the invites to fill them with for once (Emerald, Humanitarian, Poinsettia, New Mexico, and Hawaii). Having one less conference game will most likely make WAC teams to have to scramble and schedule a FCS school (like it or not) to their schedule. This will at least ensure the number of bowl-eligible teams is as high as possible in the short run.
The WAC, by not expanding too early, is in a good position to make the best move and not have any regrets of teams that could wishfully leave the conference.