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With BYU now an independent in football the question then becomes, what happens to the rest of the MWC, including Boise State. With Utah and BYU gone the Mountain West is left with the following teams:
San Diego State
The first thing that happens is TCU calls the Big-12 and Conference-USA immediately. The Big-12 will say, "call us in two years." But the CUSA will welcome them with open arms. With Utah and BYU gone, there is no reason for TCU to stick around. CUSA's current teams are equal with the remnants of the MWC (except for BSU). So going CUSA is a given, their travel will be greatly reduced and they have more natural rivals.
At this point, Boise renegs and goes back to the WAC. Rumor has it they have until September 1 to change their mind and can return with no questions asked.
Air Force most likely joins their other service counterparts as an independent (and will continue to play BYU every year).
So now the MWC is left with CSU, UNM, SDSU, UNLV, and Wyoming. Undoubtedly, CSU, SDSU, UNLV and Wyoming give the WAC a call and join up. It is unlikely the WAC loses teams to the remnant of the MWC due to the recent financial penalty incurred on any team who leaves the conference. I am sure the WAC would take them. The WAC would have then following:
New Mexico State
San Jose State
UNLV (giving a natural rivalry with UNR)
San Diego State (unifying the Cal State schools in one conference)
That is thirteen teams, and we still have New Mexico to discuss. Naturally, UNM could go to the WAC, and that is probably what happens. But consider the fact that Louisiana Tech is not sticking with the WAC long-term (it makes no sense being there in the first place). So they will jump ship and go to CUSA ASAP, bringing the WAC to 12 teams and thus, perfect...unless UNM joins up. My guess is UNM seriously considers following TCU to CUSA.
Currently CUSA has 12 teams and a championship game. They will undoubtedly accept TCU to bring the conference to 13, making the conference uneven and perhaps looking to add one more team. New Mexico makes sense. Albuquerque is a solid town, UNM has a great basketball program, and they would give UTEP a rival. It also wouldn't add travel distance versus the WAC considering they would have to travel to Hawaii, San Jose, and Moscow every year there. In CUSA, the farthest they travel would be Marshall or East Carolina.
This scenario brings CUSA to a 14 team conference. Shouldn't be a big deal. It also protects CUSA from future defections. It is no secret that the Big-East is investigating expansion scenarios and that Memphis, East Carolina, and UCF are the usual suspects being mentioned. Should the Big-East grab two of those teams, CUSA would simply be back to 12 teams and sitting just fine.
Sadly, BYU's decision inevitably destroys the Mountain West. I have developed a great affinity for the conference, I have great respect for and always enjoyed playing Wyoming, Colorado State, New Mexico, and Air Force. Granted, as a Ute fan, these games are gone anyway, but I hate to see them getting screwed in all this.
(Swint is an editor at "www.holywarfootball.com"; A blog focusing on the Utah-BYU rivalry. This post was originally posted on that site.)