I read a post a couple weeks back on The Rivalry, Esq. about Big 10 expansion. In theory there really is only three ways the conference can expand and have a chance at survival, expand to 12, 14 or 16. 12 is what most think they would expand to but for purposes of showing you how conferences could go extinct, let's say the Big 10 expands to 16, and succeeds.
The reason I believe the Big 10 really could succeed with 16 teams where the WAC could not is because all the teams that would be added are huge TV draw-ins (such as if people see Louisiana Tech playing and they see Notre Dame playing on different channels, they are going to watch Notre Dame). The teams that would make the most sense are: Texas, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Nebraska and Pittsburgh. All of these candidates are huge draw-ins and all have recently good football programs (except for Notre Dame, they had a down year last season). Think about how good the Big 10 really could be, you could have Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Texas, Texas A&M, Nebraska and Pittsburgh all in the same conference. I think I would love to play with that kind of competition...Ok, let's say everything goes down and now the Big 10 has 16 schools and succeed after 5 years of raking in the dough the Big 12 and SEC want to get in on it. The Big 12 after losing 3 schools replaced them with the 3 MWC Schools, the MWC compensated with Boise St., Fresno St. and UNR. WAC replenished with FCS teams. Now the Big 12 wants to add four more schools, one in the North division and three in the South division ( because BYU and Utah would both fit in the north division, that's where they would be in the 16 team Big 12). Boise St. goes to the Big 12 North and completes that division, that's a no-brainer. Houston, SMU and Rice would round out the Big 12 South.
For the SEC, they lost no one and probably could gain alot from the ACC. Best candidates would be Miami, Florida St., USF, and Georgia Tech. They all bring TV markets in and adding 3 more Florida schools to the only one they currently have definitely would help. Florida State and Georgia Tech would be in the West Division and USF and Miami would be in the East Division. The SEC would most defintely improve.
The only issue now is that this leaves BCS conferences and Non-BCS Conferences in a state of rebuilding. Most conferences would probably go extinct like the SWC did. Others like the MWC could probably survive by adding a couple of WAC and C-USA teams or maybe poaching them completely and making themselves into a 16 team conference. Sun Belt would actually probably survive because no conference would be willing to take in one of their teams to stay alive. WAC, C-USA and MAC would either have to invite teams from FCS to stay alive or go down to FCS level.
Bottom line: If BCS Conferences decide their is more opportunity in 16 team conferences we could see some major changes in College Football.