Should The Mountain West Continue Expanding?

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Now that Boise State's in the conference, some of the MWC's future is certain, but not all of it.

Rumors continue to swirl about the Big XII's demise, and the trend towards super conferences makes further expansion a tempting option. But is it the best one? Let's take a look at the pros and cons of several possible scenarios.

Scenario #1: The Mountain West, happy to add the Broncos, sits at 10 teams.

-The conference can play a full round-robin format with a 9-game schedule, similar to what the Pac-10 did before Expansionacolypse.
-The league's teams can continue strengthening their already strong relationships by ensuring there isn't a two-year gap between matches.
-Potentially tricky divisional alignment issues are averted.

-No title game without 12 teams.
-Not adding schools like Kansas (if interested) could play into the perception that the Mountain West is still only an 'upper middle tier' conference and not an elite one.
-The Mountain West does little to expand its revenue base by not adding large new markets.
-A 9-game schedule guarantees 5 extra losses among the 10 teams that could be 10 OOC wins. It also limits the ability of some teams (such as Air Force) to have loose OOC scheduling abilities.

Scenario #2: The Mountain West adds 2 teams to form a 12-team conference.

-The conference can have a title game, which is an additional revenue stream.
-The ability to expand into large markets, potentially including Houston, Kansas City, St. Louis, or Dallas-Fort Worth.
-Potential for an increase in competition depth in other sports (basketball, baseball, etc.)

-Not all conference title games are created equal. See: ACC Championship.
-Divisional alignments could crimp traditional match-ups, even potentially splitting rivalries into separate divisions.
-Scheduling becomes an issue (does the conference go Big XII-style with alternating cross-division opponents, or SEC-style with a permanent rival in each division; also, how does one do other sports? ACC expansion has shown us that playing only 1 game instead of 2 against opponents in basketball can take the fun out of things)
-Football quality may decrease.

-Divisional alignment could/would see UNLV, San Diego State, Boise State, Utah, BYU, and probably Wyoming in a 'Northwest Division,' with Colorado State, Air Force, TCU and 3 additions in a 'Central Division.' SEC-style scheduling would be recommended to make Colorado State and Wyoming 'permanent rivals' to maintain the Border War.

Scenario #3: The Mountain West adds 4-6 more teams to form a super conference of 14 or 16 teams.

-Massive market penetration is likely.
-Potential for an increase in competition depth in other sports (basketball, baseball, etc.)
-Large divisions would essentially be like conferences in their own right, and thus an easier way of managing scheduling concerns.
-A possible return to the 'pod system' (pro?)

-Quality of football competition is likely to decrease.
-A 'super conference' without a lot of quality winds up looking like the old WAC. The Mountain West was created to avoid situations like the old WAC.
-Large divisions would essentially be like conferences in their own right, and traditional match-ups from the current Mountain West would be played less often.
-A possible return to the 'pod system' (con?)
-As always, dividing the divisions up could be a tricky prospect.

-Potential alignment could include San Diego State, UNLV, Utah, BYU, Boise State, Wyoming, Colorado State, and Air Force in a 'Northwest Division, with TCU, New Mexico, and the newer additions forming a 'Central Division.'


That being said, there are several issues that remain important to the conversation:

1.) Just because the Mountain West could evolve into a full-fledged 'super conference,' it doesn't guarantee the media won't still treat it like a mid-major. If the 'super conference' trend continues, it's widely speculated that FBS football would wind up with 5 'super conferences,' and the traditional powers-that-be run the other conferences.

2.) Just because a Big XII implosion would orphan 5 schools from a 'BCS conference,' it neither means they'll give the MWC credibility, nor does it mean that these schools are seeking to play in the Mountain West.

3.) There's still the very real possibility that the 5 Big XII leftovers raid C-USA for teams, forming a conference with roughly the same footprint as the Big XII, but without the football luster (Houston, SMU, UTEP, Tulsa, Memphis, and/or Rice and 1 other team - likely Tulane, Louisiana Tech, or North Texas). If they took 6 teams from C-USA they'd still maintain BCS/Basketball tournament eligibility requirements, and a Kansas, K-State, Memphis, and Baylor anchored basektball conference, coupled with historical powers UTEP and Houston would be one Hell of a basketball conference.

4.) The conference expansion/raiding game isn't over. The PAC-# could still try and take Utah away from the MWC, and the SEC may well try and pluck TCU if Texas A&M tries to join. The Big Ten could also up and decide to take some remnant pieces of the Big XII (Kansas, or maybe even Missouri), removing the best potential pick-ups from the board.