College football, unlike any other major sport, lacks a playoff. In the current BCS system, due to polls and automatic BCS berths, only schools from the Pac-10, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, Big East, and the ACC can compete for national titles.
However, in recent years, the top teams in the WAC and Mountain West conference have been competitive nationally and have appeared in three of the past four BCS bowl games (2-1 in these games). Yet the overall strength of these conferences will prevent them from BCS consideration and revenues.
How can the top teams in the Mountain West and the WAC compete with BCS conferences for national titles instead of an occasional Fiesta Bowl berth? The solution is to realign the Mountain West (similar to what the ACC did in 2004) to include the top teams in the WAC while cutting out the bottom feeders of the conference.
There are multiple ways that the Mountain West can realign. The first way is to invite Fresno State, Boise State, and Hawaii into the Mountain West while kicking out San Diego State and Wyoming to create the Mountain Ten. This adds three quality football programs to a conference that has non-BCS powers TCU, BYU, and Utah.
By adding Fresno State, the Mountain West does not lose a presence in California from the expulsion of San Diego State. Since these teams were part of the old WAC, old rivalries will rekindle and make the Mountain West more compelling.
By eliminating Wyoming and San Diego State, the conference eliminates two perennial losing programs. San Diego State has not been relevant since Marshall Faulk graduated in 1993 and has not been in a bowl game this decade. Wyoming's crowning achievement is a Las Vegas Bowl win against UCLA.
The WAC would gladly take these schools to replace their losses. As a result the WAC will have much more parity, but its quality of play will resemble the MAC or Sun Belt conferences.
This arrangement also benefits the departing WAC schools. They will be in a better conference and therefore have more TV exposure and recruiting success.
With the additions of Fresno State, Boise State, and Hawaii, the Mountain West would have a strong chance of gaining an automatic BCS berth, as its talent level would exceed the ACC and maybe equal the Big Ten by having five football powers in the conference that are consistently nationally ranked (BYU, Utah, Fresno State, Boise State, and TCU).
It will also mean more revenues from BCS bowl money, which in turn strengthen the athletic departments of the school. By no longer having bad teams such as Idaho, Utah State, San Jose State, and New Mexico State on the schedule, these team would have legitimate shots at winning a national title due to an increased strength schedule.
If the Mountain West cannot expel their bottom tier teams, they can keep them and have a 12-team Mountain West conference with a conference championship game. It is not as good of a setup, but it will still add much depth to the conference and allow for BCS possibilities.
Overall, the Mountain West and top schools of the WAC should strongly consider realignment as a way to bring credibility to the league, gain access to BCS money, and allow teams to have a strong chance at a national championship.