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Expansion Thoughts: The Argument for FCS Schools

A quick look into some possible FCS target expansions.


With all the talk about looking east, and who else the Mountain West could possibly pick up as a 13th and 14th team in the future, it's time to look at other possibilities.

What We Know:
• SMU doesn't want to be part of the MWC
• Tulsa is interested (but hey they're in Oklahoma)
• BYU most likely doesn't want in (no reports, but it's a good assumption)
• Houston was probably getting "packaged" with SMU, making them not really a viable option for the MWC

With that in mind, I'm here to bring up a completely crazy notion: why not look to the Sky, the Big Sky? There are six specific schools I'm looking at, or three packages: Montana/Montana State, Portland State/Eastern Washington and UC Davis/Cal Poly. Put down that hit of nitric oxide and listen up: I'm serious.

All those schools bring interesting opportunities for the Mountain West. Here's some reasons for each:

Montana/Montana State

Profile-wise, this would be the absolute best case scenario in terms of expansion, outside of Houston/Tulsa/UTEP. Both these schools already meet FBS standards and academically, they are both well regarded. Both have rabid fanbases and the rivalry is very intense. From a football standpoint, both can be considered powerhouses at the FBS levels and most of their recruiting comes from around the west (much of it within the state).

Why Boise State fans would like it:

Shut up. I have to cater to my fanbase over here to keep them happy. Bringing the Grizzlies and Bobcats in means the divisions would have to switch. Guess where BSU would be going? Yep, to their coveted "West" division with Nevada, FSU and SDSU. TICKET SALES FOR EVERYONE!

Portland State/Eastern Washington

Now we're talking. Getting our hands into some potential TV markets. PSU is in a prime location, being in the nation's 22nd largest media market, while Cheney is located in the Spokane TV market (73rd). Spokane has Gonzaga you say? Not for the fall they don't, remember that the Zags don't have football, so Spokane would be ideal for EWU fans, only having to fight the Wazoo crowd. Please also remember that currently, the Eagles are much more successful than the Cougars. Athletics-wise, the Eagles would be the key factor here. Since the Red Turf has gone in, EWU has been near unstoppable on the field. Since the blue-on-blue rule has been now repealed, there shouldn't be any problem with red-on-red...right Rocky Long????

Why Boise State fans would like it:

Once again the division switches would have to come, and here the split would be: Portland State to the West, EWU to the Mountain. Not a great deal (BSU fans would certainly be arguing for Wolfpack/Rebels to come Mountain and leave the newbies in the West), however, the better of the two teams would be in the Mountain, making them more competitive. Also annual Red vs. Blue game: how awesome would that be?

Cal Poly/UC Davis

The move that make the least sense in terms of potential upsides actually have some very good benefits. First of all: this is a football only move. The Mustangs and Aggies would never leave the Big West for all sports, and with the Hawaii deal in place, they wouldn't have to. Academically, these schools are two of the best in the West Coast and the MWC would be able to boast that they have an AAU school (UC Davis) to help boost academics. Both schools need to expand their stadiums, but there's some hefty donors in both alumni that this would be fairly possible. The recruiting footprint in California would expand and the Sacramento market would be beneficial (especially now with the Kings heading north to become the Sonics).

Why Boise State fans would like it:

This is the most difficult one to accept because, outside of the Cali footprint, there seems to be nothing likable about this move. True the Divisions would switch again, but only one team can go to the Mountain. If you protect the UNLV/Nevada rivalry, then sending Fresno State over to the Mountain is the most logical choice (but not geographically). If you don't protect the rivalry: say hi to the Rebels entering the Mountain. The good news is that the AD's seemingly like to keep rivals together (i.e. Nevada/UNLV, CSU/WYO, CSU/AFA, SJSU/SDSU/FSU), and since Boise State/Fresno State is a rivalry game (they play for a trophy and everything!), the Fresno State move seems most likely.

So there you have it: three potential expansion packages that realistically would be a decent fit for the Mountain West. However, what about Weber State and Sacramento State? You really think that Utah State would want another Utah team in FBS to potentially have to compete with? I don't think so. Sacramento State on the other hand isn't a viable football option, it would be like how the Big East added Tulane. The stadium is big enough, however, only about 50% of the stadium is full on a week-by-week basis.