The battle among conferences for survival has come down to a tug of war between the Mountain West & Big East for the heartland. The winner follows the Pac-10's precedence as a 16-school super conference. The loser struggles to remain relevant.
The Big XII has lost Colorado & Nebraska & will lose Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma & Oklahoma State next week. The remains have been nicknamed the 'Little Five' - Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State & Baylor. After being rejected by the Big Ten & Pac-10, they held a conference call & resolved to band together. This doesn't sound like a big deal in itself but it could have big implications for the Mountain West & Big East.
The Little Five's options are: 1) merge with the Mountain West, 2) merge with the Big East & 3) absorb the C-USA.
Option 1 - The Mountain West now has 10 teams so the merger with Little 5 only requires 1 more team - obvious choice is Houston from the C-USA. Split divisions into East & West. The other option is keep New Mexico with the other 7 original MWC teams over Boise State. MWC 16 would be a BCS conference is 2012 in it's first season.
(the #s next to each school is rank 1-120 from last season
|Big 8 division||Mtn West division|
|Baylor 79||Air Force 45|
|Houston 39||Boise State 2|
|Iowa State 57||BYU 10|
|Kansas 74||Colorado State 104|
|Kansas State 63||San Diego State 97|
|Missouri 46||UNLV 86|
|New Mexico 118||Utah 19|
|TCU 6||Wyoming 59|
Option 2 -Look eastward and merge with the 8 Big East schools. Add Houston again with Memphis & Central Florida. Memphis has been pledged $10 million annually by the CEO of FedEx to get in a BCS conference. UCF adds a 2nd school in Florida for symmetry with the 2 Texas schools.
|Big East division||Big 8 division|
|UCF 61||Baylor 79|
|UConn 32||Cincinnati 7|
|Memphis 112||Houston 39|
|Pitt 15||Iowa State 57|
|Rutgers 28||Kansas 74|
|South Florida 44||Kansas State 63|
|Syracuse 91||Louisville 90|
|West Virginia 27||Missouri 46|
This leaves the Mountain West stuck with adding Fresno State & Nevada-Reno or Texas El-Paso to reach 12 teams.
Option 3 - absorbing 7 teams from the C-USA. 4 from Texas, 1 from Oklahoma, 1 from Florida & 1 from Tennessee. I don't know if the BCS bid would be preserved with less than 6 teams from the Big XII.
|Iowa State 57||Baylor 79|
|Kansas 74||UCF 61|
|Kansas State 63||Houston 39|
|Missouri 46||Rice 113|
|Memphis 112||SMU 49|
|Tulsa 81||UTEP 102|
But this option also leaves Mountain West's options limited to expand to 12.
Scheduling would require a 9th conference game. 7 against your division & 2 against the other division. Colorado State could play K-State in 2012 at home then visit Manhattan, KS in 2016. The division winners would play a 10th conference game to determine a champion & who receives the automatic BCS bid. State breakdown:
1 California, 1 Nevada, 2 Utah, 1 Idaho, 1 Wyoming, 2 Colorado, 1 New Mexico, 3 Texas, 2 Kansas, 1 Missouri, 1 Iowa
0 Washington, 0 Oregon, 0 Arizona, 0 Dakotas, 0 Montana, 0 Nebraska, 0 Oklahoma
Iowa State might not love flying to San Diego State or Boise State to Houston but with 8 teams in each division - long flights should be minimized.