Whatever this alliance, merger, coalition or get together is going down between the Mountain West and Conference it is not stopping expansion within the Mountain West. It looks like the Utah St. Aggies and San Jose St. Spartans are again at the top of the list to become the latest members of the Mountain West.
Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson has toured both schools, according to Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News. Plus, Wilner brings up a good point on the alliance between Conference USA and the Mountain West:
Even with an alliance, which would mostly be for scheduling purposes, the MWC and C-USA may very well add new members. And as I noted last week, such a development would endanger the existence of other conferences.
In fact, I believe the Mountain West MUST expand.
In its reconfigured form (i.e., post Boise State/SDSU), the MWC will have 8 schools for football and 7 for everything else because Hawaii's Olympic sports are headed to the Big West.
This is a forgotten issue if the Mountain West and Conference USA do not merge, because there is no way to have a basketball league with only seven teams. They could do it for a few years with an exemption, but they need permanent replacement.
This would make sense to add Utah State, they have history of being a very good basketball team, and their football team is improving under Gary Andersen so they are attractive on that front. San Jose State, not so much but I guess they have more potential than Idaho or New Mexico State.
With the merger now likely not happening, the Mountain West must do something. They could try to add Utah Valley or Seattle for basketball-only to basically take Hawaii's place for non-football sports. Also, eight is an odd number for football and with the Pac-12 playing essentially two non-conference games with their deal to play the Big 10 every year there are not many FBS programs out West to play.
One other interesting tidbit from Wilner is that the Mountain West does have a contingency plan to bring back Boise State and San Diego State if they need a landing place down the road.
The never ending story of expansion continues on.