12 Little-Discussed Schools That Could Make Great BCS AQ Conference Members

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12 Little-Discussed Schools That Could Make Great BCS AQ Conference Members
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Who could the BCS haves pick next?

The same tired schools are constantly mentioned for BCS status.

Why is that? 

I believe it is because BCS conferences—with the exception of the Big East—are mostly pulling schools from other BCS conferences at this point. 

The Big East is looking for teams that are doing well during the current BCS evaluation period that lasts until 2013. The conference worries about a potential rule tweak after 2013 that could see them removed from the list of AQ conferences and forced to "earn" their AQ spot through BCS measurables—like non-AQ conferences have to do today.

Even the "surprise" on the Big East's list (SMU) made sense based off the BCS evaluation criteria, first...and on the geographic need to appease Boise State.

But what happens when the Big East has twelve football members and they only lose one or two down the road? What happens to that "meet the evaluation criteria" mentality after 2013?

Perhaps nothing. Perhaps the BCS evaluation criteria stay about the same with short evaluation intervals.

But I suspect at that point we may see a dramatic change in the schools which troubled AQ conferences (the Big East and perhaps the Big 12, too) look to add to replace future losses. Or the schools some other conferences look to add. 

You may see a shift towards, "How do these schools project at the AQ level?" thinking. 

We have already seen the Big 12 hint at this type of thinking with its brief consideration of Tulane and Houston. We have seen this a few times in the past, with schools like Utah, Cincinnati and South Carolina making large leaps from the have-not world into their current conferences based on favored attributes and potential over perhaps more developed candidates (BYU, Memphis and Clemson, respectively), and I believe we are likely to see it again in the next five years.

It is an exciting topic for me as longtime realignment editorialist.

It took Baylor almost 20 years to sniff average in football in the Big 12. No one wants another Baylor. No one wants a school who can't make something happen with an AQ TV check.

Which schools could take the $8-16 million raise that comes with being in a BCS conference and, in short order, build a strong AQ-caliber program?

What if the BCS elite vote to eliminate the automatic qualifier designation? Suddenly, considerations like how a school does in BCS standings or their academics may be out the window for a conference like the Football Big East. Attendance and attendance potential may be the new key measurables.

I have endeavored to put together a list of schools that could deliver enough financial value to be worth a BCS AQ conference addition and would project as competitive AQ members in a short time frame (say, three to four years).

So who are the AQ candidates—the solid gold prospects of tomorrow—that few fans are discussing today?

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