Bumped to the front page
After a bit of a break from college sports, I'm trying to catch up ... and what do I find but conference realignment is (yet again) dominating the headlines. After reading some of the comments here, I wanted to get my 0.02 cents in regarding the Mountain West getting (or not getting) UTSA or any other Texas school.
In short, I really don't think the Mountain West going after Texas schools is viable long term strategy.
Other than the BIG schools - e.g. UT, Texas A&M, etc. who have much more of a national profile and can afford to go into nearly any conference regardless of geography, most Texas-based schools are not going to want to be in a western-based conference. The eastern and central time zones of the USA contain roughly 75% of the population of the country.
Because of this, the issue is not that it doesn't make sense for the MWC to get schools in the central time zone. It's that it doesn't make sense for schools in the central time zone to join the MWC.
Why should Tulsa join the MWC? Why should UT San Antonio or UT Arlington? What substantial benefits do these schools receive from joining the MWC that outweigh the costs, as opposed to joining Conference USA? The travel costs are higher in terms of money and time, and there's less exposure compared to an eastern-based conference. Remember ... the Eastern & Central time zones combined have THREE TIMES the population of the Mountain & Pacific time zones combined.
In short, the costs of joining the MWC outweigh the potential benefits. It makes more sense for them to join an eastern-based conference.
I think that the MWC should continue to talk to Conference USA regarding collaboration with scheduling, television contracts, and other points on which they can work together. I think that both conferences have a better bargaining position if they work together on media exposure, and having a scheduling partner can be a huge benefit. All schools involved would receive more exposure across the country but wouldn't have the drawback of an entire conference schedule that involves (relatively) long travel.
This was posted by cokolman yesterday:
UTSA only accepted playing in a conference outside their natural recruiting grounds around Texas due to the allure of accelerating their long-term goal of playing football at the highest levels.
This makes a good point. A central time zone school wanting to get to the FBS level may join a western-based conference temporarily so they can get to the higher level, but it doesn't mean that they'll stay in the western-based conference.
The folks who are bashing Craig Thompson for not getting Texas schools into the MWC are, in my opinion, wasting their breath (or bandwidth). It's basically out of his control. He can't force schools to join his conference when it makes more sense for them to look elsewhere.