All of the conference realignment on Tuesday was surrounding the Big 12 and its fancy analytic firm it hired to crunch some numbers.
Late Tuesday night, Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports dropped a bomb by reporting that Wichita State is interested in joining the Mountain West. For those asking "Wichita State does not have a football program, right?" You'd be correct but the school has been undergoing a feasibility study to bring back football.
Led by president John Bardo, Wichita State has been exploring its conference options in both basketball and football. Last year, Bardo commissioned an ongoing feasibility study to bring football back to the athletic program. The school dropped the sport in 1986.
Bardo did not provide a comment when approached by Dodd.
Right now the Mountain West has 11 teams for basketball and 12 for football as Hawaii houses the other sports in the Big West, so this would balance the basketball side of things but it would make football unbalanced. For years the MAC had 13 teams and made it work but scheduling gets unique with a different number of teams in the two divisions.
The Mountain West has stated to join the conference one must play at the very least in football, but to be a full member must also have men's and women's basketball plus women's volleyball. The Shockers have two of the three, but football is key.
Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said that he has not had direct contact from Wichita State and that if the league was to place its basketball program in a different conference said that, "It ain't going to be us."
That falls in line with how the Mountain West wants to structure its conference. Then there is the issue of money and if the Shockers join as a basketball-only school -- which again will not happen -- ESPN and CBS Sports would not renegotiate a higher media rights package, so the Mountain West would be paying out less money.
Wichita State is not going to go to Conference USA as a basketball-only school and that probably goes for the same if they are going to try to get into the American Athletic Conference.
The Shockers are basing this move on the strength of their basketball program and it is a solid hand to play since Gregg Marshall has been a major success as their head coach. Wichita State has advanced to a school-record five consecutive NCAA Tournaments, reaching the Final Four in 2013 and going 35-1 in 2013-14, but it is all about football.
Adding a football team is no simple task. Wichita State dropped their football program 30 years ago but the school has been doing a feasibility study to bring back the sports. Details of that progress will not be known for approximate seven weeks.
Reigniting their football program is expected to cost upwards of $70 million which includes $20 million to upgrade Cessna Stadium, so it is not cheap. It does seem odd that they would want to start up a football program since the news of Idaho dropping to FCS and also a certain group at Eastern Michigan and UMass wanting to do the same thing, and there is New Mexico State who will attempt to stay at the FBS level after their time in the Sun Belt has expired.
The rush of jumps from FCS to FBS has come with the idea that even going to the smaller leagues like the Sun Belt with South Alabama, Georgia State and Georgia Southern is an increase in money. That might be the case in that part of the country where talent is abundant, but look at the latest TV deal with Conference USA which will take a huge hit with their next media right deal.
Wichita State is in Kansas which does not have a great history of producing FBS talent and they are smack dab in Big Ten country, so building up a roster to compete even with the down teams in the Mountain West will be tough.
Then there is the timeframe, because starting a football team from scratch is hard. Charlotte recommend to bring back their football program in September of 2008 and they played their first FCS season five years late in 2013. Also, what is different is that Charlotte's plan was to always stay at the FCS level but they received an invite to join Conference USA and did so in 2015. That is five years to get a program off the ground and seven before they are the FBS level.
At that point who knows what the NCAA landscape looks like and what teams are in the Mountain West, or heck even if there is a Mountain West. Then what happens if Wichita State's basketball program goes south and are no longer as valuable to the Mountain West.
Even if they got a program ready to go by the fall of 2018 that would be tough and then to be dropped right into the FBS level, that would be extremely difficult.
The fine folks at Mid-Major Madness may have summed this whole Wichita State to the Mountain West nicely.
Instead of a nearly done deal, this feels like Wichita State is playing poker and dropped two nines on the table: the lid is blown, but no one knows exactly the strength of the hand that the Shockers are carrying.