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Who knows what could have been had this guy stayed healthy this year.
Most of you should know who these remaining schools are. They keep coming up no matter the article and make the most sense.
They have been solid competitors and can help push for that BCS bid. They also have other things to offer that can help the conference in terms of football.
The first one is Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane have been a solid program coming close to busting the BCS on a few occasions. They have a loyal fanbase and offer a new TV market for the Mountain West in Oklahoma City.
Tulsa also is a prime recruiting spot, as the two high schools in the city are among the best in the country. Like the others on the list, it gives an incentive for TCU to stay.
The one problem with Tulsa is they're small...in fact, they have the smallest student population among FBS schools, making Tulsa the smallest football program in D-I. While they have loyal fans, you wouldn't know it by the population, and they don't get much in outside fan support due to the Sooners and Cowboys.
That makes it more impressive that they have produced on a regular basis for some time now. Their good record should put them in the conversation for expansion.
The next school is UTEP. It was hard putting them over Tulsa, mainly because they have underachieved as a program and don't appear to be able to rise above the level of mediocre anytime soon. But they have bodies...lots of bodies. Despite the average to poor teams put on the field the past few years, UTEP's attendance has been great—better than some of the current teams in the MWC.
They already have a rivalry in New Mexico, and it wouldn't be hard for one to form with TCU. El Paso is an underestimated TV market, as it brings in both Western Texas and Eastern New Mexico. I expect them to get the nod should this school get dropped or says no.
Finally, the University of Houston.
Like Tulsa, they have been close to busting the BCS. Like Rice, are in the Houston TV market. They would help keep TCU and would be competitive right away. They are also the popular choice in the media. Plans for a new stadium also help the Cougars' case.
What doesn't help, and what may decide if they join or not, is that they would be the farthest member in the conference. Also, they are also part of the rumors (along with TCU) of being considered for a Big East invite. Houston's fanbase is relatively small due to many residents being Texas and Texas A&M alumni.
Any of these three schools could be justified as being better than the other, and I wouldn't be surprised if one of them got the invite. But if Houston gets the invitation and refuses, keep an eye on TCU, as it may connect with the rumors surrounding the Big East.