If wishes were fishes we'd have a school (or maybe 12 schools). We can only hope that the upcoming Mtn West Conference meetings might conclude with an action plan for the future that would provide a solid foundation for both long-term stability and a competitive environment for the individual member institutions as well as for the entire conference. The plan should not be based solely on what other conferences might, or might not, do in the future nor should it be perceived as simple reaction to what other conferences have already done in the past. It is time for leadership of member institutions and the conference to create a vision of what can be; and, then execute the actionable plan to achieve that vision.
The vision must include having the Mtn West Conference achieve national recognition for academics, athletics, and integrity for every constituent affected by the conference. The Mtn West Conference institutions should be attractive to athletes, students, faculty, administrators, fans, competitors, and coaches.
The best conference configuration for football competition and scheduling is to include 12 member institutions with 2 six team divisions concluding with a conference championship game each season. For all other sports, the 12 member conference works equally as well. At last count, the Mtn West Conference has 10 member institutions for football with 9 member institutions for all other sports. The University of Hawaii becoming a "football only" member.
There are a number of potential institutions that could be invited to Mtn West Conference membership. There are two institutions that could be "non-football" members to balance out the Hawaii effect. The University of Denver or Brigham Yound University could be invited to Mtn West Conference membership for all sports except football. Either choice has merit; however, BYU brings long standing rivalries with many Mtn West Conference members. I'm certain there could be much debate in this single issue.
There is an opportunity to invite two more institutions to full Mtn West Conference membership. I believe the Mtn West Conference should constrain its geographic footprint to the Mountain and Pacific time zones with the exception of Hawaii. The University of Texas at El Paso fits the geographic footprint of the Mtn West Conference with long standing rivalries with many Mtn West Conference members. The other candidates are currently in the Western Athletic Conference. Louisiana Tech is eliminated by geographic location which leaves the University of Idaho, San Jose State, New Mexico State or Utah State University. Utah State University would be a reasonable choice for a Mtn West Conference invitation.
If BYU, UTEP and Utah State each accepted their respective invitations to Mtn West Conference membership, there would still be the need to define the division alignments. There are two simple geographic approaches for football divisions (not the Big Ten approach).
North South or Mountain Pacific
Boise State UTEP UTEP UNLV
Wyoming New Mexico New Mexico Hawaii
Colorado State San Diego State Air Force San Diego State
Utah State Hawaii Wyoming Fresno State
Air Force Fresno State Colorado State Nevada
Nevada UNLV Utah State Boise State
The potential for Mtn West Conference expansion and long-term stability will only come to fruition if the leadership of the member institutions and the conference will "lead". In the meantime, it is fun to speculate!