By Matt Peloquin
Utah St. has come close to joining the Mountain West conference twice before. San Jose St. came close once in the past as well. But finally, both schools appear to joining the Mountain West in as close to a “done deal” as can be for now.
The move will bring the Mountain West total membership to 9 all-sports members and 10 for football. While warm bodies for the MWC has been a priority, they have the luxury of also adding the Salt Lake City market and the Bay Area to help boost it’s television contract value. The Mountain West and CUSA are still expected to partner up, despite a full merger being shelved. The plan will likely involve the two conferences forming a football alliance where they negotiate a united television deal and arrange for some sort of championship game.
If the Mountain West were to add 2 more schools and grow to 12, combined with the expected growth of CUSA to 12, the alliance could hold two championship games with the winners meeting in a bowl game.
CUSA will be adding UTSA as well as likely North Texas and Florida International.
Louisiana Tech will likely be the 12th CUSA member unless Charlotte can get more support for it’s inclusion. Old Dominion is also keeping an eye on things in the event that they opt to upgrade to FBS.
The losses of Utah St. and San Jose St. from the WAC will put the final nail in them as a football conference.
With Utah St., San Jose St., UTSA and potentially Louisiana Tech leaving, the WAC will be left with only New Mexico St., Idaho and Texas St.
Texas St. will be pushing the Sun Belt hard for inclusion to replace the losses of North Texas and UTSA.
New Mexico St. will also likely petition the Sun Belt so that they are not left out. But the Sun Belt might have more appealing options such as Appalachian St., Charlotte and Georgia Southern. Even ODU might make itself available if they feel desperate enough. And maybe that would be the right call, since CUSA and the Sun Belt will be fairly locked into their new memberships and the MAC, already at 13 would remain the only FBS option.
For Idaho, it’s a tough a time as ever. Texas St. has the advantage of being in a close proximity to the other Sun Belt members, in comparison. Idaho and even NMSU remain far away with little value to the Sun Belt. It would not be shocking to see NMSU and Idaho seek even football-only Sun Belt membership with limited revenue in return to both schools as a means to secure a football home.