In these days of economics being a key factor for conference revenues, the Mountain West Conference or MWC must expand. Of all the Non-BCS Conferences, the MWC is in the best position to strongarm/blackmail the BCS into getting an automatic bid.
The MWC consists of: No. 6 Utah, No. 11 TCU, No. 16 BCS, CSU (winner of the New Mexico Bowl), Air Force (Armed Forces Bowl), UNLV, New Mexico, Wyoming and San Diego State.
BYU, Utah and TCU are very solid programs with teams that were ranked in the Top 10 of the polls this year. No other non-automatic BCS bid conference can match this depth.
But, the MWC needs to step up and raid the Western Athletic Conference one more time. The MWC was formed by teams that left the WAC due to it's large size. Offering invites to three WAC schools would give the MWC 12 teams and the ability to have a Conference Championship Game.
I would offer these three teams invites: Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada. Other than Hawaii these three programs consistently play the best football. Hawaii is on a downturn and transportation costs make them a bad fit.
Nevada and Fresno add a team in a state where there is already a team and Boise State is becoming a football power handicapped by their weak conference.
The ability to capitalize on a championship game added with the clout of Boise provides the MWC with a valuable commodity for a TV conference package. With the teams being on the West Coast, the later starting times would be attractive to ESPN or any other carrier looking to broadcast a Saturday Night game and they have showed the willingness to play Thursday games as well.
The MWC wants to showcase itself to as many fans as possible. A weekly diet of games featuring TCU, Boise, BYU and the others would be an attractive package.
Playing a championship game in nearby neutral cities like Denver, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, or possibly The Cowboys new stadium (J.J. is always looking to make a buck or two) would make for increased awareness and a nice paycheck for all the teams.
A schedule of five division opponents and three games against the other division would result in every team playing a home and home series every four years against every member school. This still allows for four non conference games allowing the schools to play long standing rivals or whoever they see fit.
By having powerhouses in the conference a team like Boise would have a shot at a BCS Bowl with one loss rather than being shut out with an undefeated record as happened this season.
Here's two looks at how the MWC could be broken into two divisions.
Plan A East-West Divisions
East: TCU, Utah, BYU, Colorado State, Air Force Academy, New Mexico
West Fresno State, San Diego State, UNLV, Nevada, Boise and Wyoming
Plan B North -South Divisions
North Boise, Wyoming, BYU, Utah, Nevada, Colorado State
South New Mexico, TCU, San Diego State, Fresno State, UNLV, Air Force Academy
There are a few other teams that would be intriguing to the MWC: Houston with a solid football team and a basketball tradition would help with tv ratings by adding the largest tv market in the MWC and pair up Texas with TCU.
The Tulsa Golden Hurricanes would be worth a look as well as they bring in Oklahoma and are east of the majority of the schools providing another market area.
Worth a look but only a look would be UTEP, Rice, SMU, Utah State and New Mexico State.
Of the three schools I propose adding, Nevada, would be the one to drop if Houston or Tulsa were added. While they provide UNLV with an in state rival the Reno tv market is by far the lowest of the three.
Adding any three of these five schools would be of benefit to the MWC and I believe it to be only a matter of time before we see it.
My rankings as far as desirability: Boise, Fresno, Houston, Nevada, Tulsa.
Do you agree or disagree? As always please feel free to add your comments.