Ok, I've been mulling over for quite some time now more expansion for the MWC. Currently, in 2012 the MWC will have 10 teams and a probable 9 game conference schedule. Air Force will oppose that with all they have since they have to play Army and Navy every year, giving them 1 non-conference opening per year. Unfortunately, one school out of 10 opposing a 9 game schedule is not going to change anything and unless the MWC goes to a 12 school - 2 division format, there will be a 9 game conference schedule.
In my opinion, I want to see UTEP and Utah State join the conference to make us a 12 team conference, but I will list out the possible candidates for expanding to 12 teams.
In case you weren't here in September, there was a pretty heated argument over whether UTEP or Houston should be added with the conference being at 11 teams at that point. BYU left and we are now left at 10 so we could realistically take both UTEP and Houston if we wanted to. Anyway, UTEP is a very good candidate because of their success in basketball and their up and coming football program. Not to mention that the fans actually support their team, with games selling out in both basketball and football. UTEP isn't a big metro area, but with the MWC's current TV deal, Metro areas aren't as big a deal. What the MWC needs is more subscribers to The Mtn and UTEP gives them that.
Houston, like UTEP, has been a trendy choice to join the MWC. They have a good football program and their basketball team went to the NCAA Tournament last year upsetting UTEP in the C-USA tournament. More important than their success in athletic programs is the market that they bring. The metro area in Houston is either 5th or 6th (I'm too lazy too look it up) and having that kind of a market for TV bargaining would be huge. But that is only one side of the story, the other side tells that there is zero fan support in Houston and no one is really going to buy The Mtn. to watch Houston play. Not only that, but their facilities are very bad, so bad that Texas vowed to never play Houston again after the Cougars had to roll in extra bleachers to seat the extra fans. Another plus for Houston is that they played with TCU in the SWC for a long time before it imploded.
SMU's only has a few positives. That includes the fact that they are in Dallas, they have a meaningful rivalry with TCU and their football team is led by June Jones - he took Hawaii to the Sugar Bowl in 2007. Negatives? With TCU already in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, their TV market positive is almost completely negated. I like the idea of having SMU in the conference, they have a good team and are in a big market, but they have the same problem as Houston - No one in Dallas wants to watch SMU...
A couple of months ago, everyone would have laughed at me for putting them up here (and a lot of people probably still will), but here me out on this. Without a school in Utah, the MWC's geographic footprint is horrible, having a giant hole in the middle of its conference. Utah State has a much improved football team, and even though they won't make it to a bowl this season, they're going to be making to a bowl game in the next few years. Not to mention they have a fantastic basketball team and that could easily replace BYU in terms of basketball.
What I want to see happen
I want to see the MWC add Utah State and UTEP and here's why: Adding UTEP gives us another great basketball school and a football team that is poised to be good over the next few years with Trever Vittatoe only being a sophomore. Not only does UTEP bring some more competition to the conference, but they also fill out what would be the East Division. I've already laid out a ton of reasons on why Utah State is a viable candidate, but I didn't mention how they would solve division issues. With UTEP being added, 6 teams are already in what would be the East Division. That means that if SMU or Houston are also annexed, then New Mexico would have to go to the west division and UTEP and New Mexico's cross division rivalry game would be taken. By having them in division, it allows for a ton of new rivalries to be produced. Here is what the divisions would look like:
|San Diego State||TCU|
|Fresno State||Colorado State|
Here is what the MWC would look like geographically:
View MWC Divisions in a larger map
Then of course with a plan, comes how to schedule. Now what is the whole reason behind expansion? To expand the MWC's TV reach and to please Air Force by keeping the conference schedule at 8 games. I have always though that having cross-division rivalries are great, and with Boise State and TCU being in different divisions it would make even more sense to have the cross-division rivalries so that TCU and Boise State could play eachother every year. Here is what an idea of cross-division rivals might look like:
|East Team||West Team|
|San Diego State||UTEP|
|Utah State||Colorado State|
I did these based on my own projected order of where the teams would finish in their respective divisions. I'm sure that the MWC wouldn't go this way for the cross-division rivlaries, but this is just the way I did it. Here is a list of possible in-conference rivalries that could be produced as long as the MWC schools stay together: SDSU vs. Fresno State, UNLV vs. Nevada, Boise State vs. TCU, UTEP vs. New Mexico, Nevada vs. Air Force, San Diego State vs. UTEP, Fresno State vs. Wyoming, Utah State vs. Colorado State, Wyoming vs. Colorado State, UNLV vs. New Mexico, Colorado State vs. Air Force.
That is a ton of rivalries and that would prove for some tradition in a conference where tradition is definitely lacking.
Feel free to go ahead and comment on how insane this idea is or how much this idea makes sense.
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