If you were Craig Thompson how would you create stability and growth opportunities in the MWC? Here's what I would do and it's all plausible. First the facts, the MWC currently is the #1 or #2 rated RPI conference in the Nation depending on the source or the weeks. The MWC RPI will be diluted when FB schools Utah State and SJSU are added in the Fall of 2013. BYU is still highly desirable as a FB or BB school to the MWC. The MWC will have 11 BB playing schools since Hawaii is FB only and plays all other sports in the Big West. The MWC CBS contract goes through 2016 and focus' on the MWC Football schedule. The MWC has allowed a secondary revenue source beyond CBS sports for MWC FB.
Both Gonzaga and St. Mary's are top 50 BB programs, while Gonzaga is a premium national brand.
Basketball would adhere to the same divisional splits but increase he overall RPI. UNM 22-4 .6635, Gonzaga 25-2 .6432, CSU 21-4 .6405, UNLV 19-7 .6180, SDSU 18-7 .6044, Boise St. 16-8 .5942, St Mary's 22-5 .5844, Wyoming 18-7 .5711, BYU 19-8 .5644, Air Force 15-9 .5633, Utah St. 18-6 .5314, Nevada 12-12 .5238, Fresno St 6-16 .5076 and SJSU 9-16 .4564. Both NMSU 18-9 .5532 and UTEP 14-10 .5427 could be considered as both BB and FB schools.
MWC would need to negotiate an additional bid from the NCAA for the tournament and create a broadcast proposal for the sports networks and digital rights. The scenario is a win-win for the MWC and three new partners. BYU would also maintain its current FB status, the MWC would gain audience and create a rev share program to offset costs.
This blueprint expands the MWC footprint and leverages both FB and BB assets and resources. This scenario also takes into consideration the possible additions for NMSU and UTEP but rewards them for their basketball programs and does hurt the current FB schools. We also accept BYU back into the MWC, allowing them to continue on with BYU TV for football.
The WAC, WCC, Big Sky and Big West would have to realign schools at some point, however, the MWC becomes the premiere RPI NCAA BB conference and the preferred non AQ FB conference for BCS Bowls. The concept and math works, so if I was Craig Thompson I would look to secure basketball schools and look beyond the current TV deal.