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Should the Mountain West Conference Merge with the Big 12? Maybe.

The changes in college conference makeup is fluid and moving rapidly. The Big East is in serious trouble and may not survive as a football conference. Over in the Big12 the dominoes are also falling, with the possible realignment of the Oklahama schools to the Pac12, that conference is severely wounded. And if Texas and Texas Tech follow them to the west coast, you can stick a fork in that conference as well. So what news and suggestions do you read in the east coast and midwest newspapers and being pushed by the sports networks? The possible realignment of the survivors of those destroyed conferences into a Big East-Big12 BCS conference of leftovers. With all the television deals and big money involved, that's the agenda that appears to be in front of a push by several major sports networks, and ESPN looks to be leading the charge. Very few news outlets mention that the Mountain West Conference is also seeking to expand or realign itself with the Big12 teams that would be left---an idea that MWC commissioner Craig Thompson has put forth from day one. He has been in constant contact and actively pursuing the Big12 schools as part of a potential realignment. The possiblity of an expanded MWC could have major BCS implications as well, and worth repeating is that the MWC is poised to gain access as an AQ BCS with the opening up of the AQ field. The BCS board said yesterday it will need six conferences going forward when the expansions are finished. Only the Big10, ACC+ SEC+ and PAC12+ will be left, along with the possibilty of a rebuilt, but highly weakened BE-Big12 conference that probably would not qualify for AQ after 2014. Either way, that still leaves room for the MWC. So why so little press on a MWC/Big12 merger besides the possiblity of having ESPN's finger in the pie? Who knows for sure, but it certainly doesn't help that commissioner Thompson is back pushing for a CUSA-MWC merger already instead of playing his best cards now: the MWC-Big12 merger. Yes, its good to have a number of contingency plans, but perhaps the MWC commish needs to fight one battle at a time. Why not try to get the media focused on the Big12-MWC expansion/merger idea, and keep it at the forefront of any news conference instead of letting the CUSA-merger idea become front and centered during a time of potential growth? The mention yesterday of partnering with CUSA for a BCS berth portrays the MWC as a weaker conference than even a completely decimated Big East league, and therefore not worthy of a Big12 merger consideration. Its absolutely ludacris, and Thompson is letting the expansion arguement get redirected by the media. I think it is commendable that Thompson has reached out to Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, and even TCU with the idea of an expanded conference. Besides the Idaho Statesman it has been mentioned in other local outlets. But he and his staff need to make sure that it is covered in the midwest and eastern presses who have their own self-interests and agendas in helping the Big East and numerous television contracts survive. The MWC commissioner and his board of directors need to stay on top of this opportunity to add a few Big12 schools, and get CBS Sports behind them in a big way. The CUSA-MWC thing is last years news, and is a big distraction right now. Plus it is only playing into the hands of the biased news media who will stop at nothing to ensure that the Big East survives. But beyond that point, the MWC should at wait until the BCS makes a ruling about the conference gaining provisional AQ status at the end of this season before talking about any CUSA agreements. The arguement right now needs to focus on the notion that a MWC/B12 merger and the BE becoming a basketball-only conference makes a lot more sense than a flimsy, incohesive conference made up of a scattering of desperate BCS leftovers looking for an AQ home. We could at least take a look at a merger. Here is how a Big 16 Mountain Conference could look: The Big Division: TCU Iowa State Baylor Kansas Kansas State Air Force Colorado State Wyoming The Mountain Divison: San Diego State Fresno State Hawaii Nevada UNLV Boise State New Mexico BYU/? whoever That would be a good, strong conference worthy of AQ BCS and a better replacement than a BE/Big12 conference made up of a bunch of weak sisters who might not maintain AQ BCS status past 2014. But the MWC needs to focus the priorities on this to get the attention of the sports world if they still wants to make the Big12 thing happen. And the MWC commissioner needs to think BIG again---as in BIG12---and stop letting himself star thinking small again. The CUSA deal is there in the end if needed. Right now, he needs to think long and hard about a 16 team conference with the Big12, because this opportunity might never come again. But all things aside, why cave in and let the media guide this thing?