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What is the perfect Mountain West?

What make up would be the best version of the Mountain West?

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Conference realignment has reared its ugly head and it started with the extremely slow will they or won't they expand in the Big 12, and then there was the new way out of left field that Wichita State wants to join the Mountain West but also bring back their football team that went defunct 30 years ago.

It seems clear that the Big 12 will do something within a year and possibly vote to say they want to expand at the end of this month and then look into candidates. The Big 12 may or may not have an impact on the Mountain West, but who knows, really.

This is not going to be a wild goose chase and go over every signal scenario but more of the realistic options that could go down in the next five years.

Also, we are assuming here that no Mountain West team will get the call to the Big 12 (sorry, SDSU, Boise State and Colorado State). We also will remove the restrictions of the Mountain West requiring football, because we want this to be fun.

Yes, BYU is included because some of the scenarios for them to come back does make sense in certain scenarios.

Wichita State as basketball only

We all know -- and those who don't should quickly research and find out -- that bringing in a basketball team to a league that sponsors football does nothing financially, especially in the middle of a media rights deal. The Shockers are looking at bringing back their football but that takes a ton of money and time to set up.

The idea of bringing the Shockers into the fold as a hoops member only is intriguing due to their success under head coach Gregg Marshall which has led the Shockers to the Final Four.

If they are to join the Mountain West in hoops only it would bring a nice balance of 12 teams to the league and make scheduling the conference tournament much easier and help the RPI which was lacking.

This would put the Mountain West back on top as the best non-power conference and once UNLV and New Mexico get back to what they have historically then maybe the Mountain West could challenge the Big East.

The earliest the Shockers could join the league and provide benefit would be at the start of the 2020-21 academic year as that is when a new TV deal would go into place. The Mountain West and its TV partners would not renegotiate a deal mid-cycle, and since teams like their money an addition won't happen until a new deal is in place. The money Wichita State would bring in would not be all that much, likely in the six-figure area, but the added inventory would bump that up some overall.

Wichita State in for basketball and football

Starting a football team from scratch is extremely hard and would cost Wichita State a reported $50 million minimum and then jumping into the FBS right away is also very tough. Charlotte made the move but their plan was to go to FCS but Conference USA needed another school so the 49ers were added. It took them five years to go from conception to their first FCS game.

So, if the Shockers are going to join the Mountain West in both sports then then they need to say for sure they will start a football program this fall to be ready by the start of the next decade.

Adding a new football and a new marker is all well and good but this leaves the Mountain West with 13 teams that would look like this.

Mountain West
Boise State UNLV
Utah State Hawaii
Colorado State San Diego State
Wyoming San Jose State
New Mexico Fresno State
Air Force Nevada
Wichita State

The MAC has a 13-team team conference and has made it work, sort of. Scheduling is a bit of a mess for the side that has seven teams since the crossover games would be limited from the Mountain to the West, and no the league won't go to a nine-league slate due to Air Force already having two built in non-league games against Army and Navy.

Who would be the 14th football member?

There are no independent teams to add and the Mountain West has already said no to New Mexico State to join as a football-only member a few years back, so that is likely to be the same answer.

Candidates that make sense would be BYU as the first and clearly best choice, but that would create an issue with another basketball program. We will deal with that later because 13 basketball schools is not all that difficult to work with.

  1. BYU -- Duh, they bring in more money and a big brand and a very good program. However, the Cougars likely would do anything to not go back to this conference.

  2. UTEP -- They are a great geographical fit -- outside of Wichita State -- and have history with most of the league, but the interest from the UTEP side is not entirely there.

  3. North Dakota State -- They have won five FCS national titles in a row and would help Wichita State as a travel partner.

  4. Tulsa -- They are in American and have had decent success in football and have been linked years ago to the Mountain West.

  5. Texas State/UTSA -- They would be on an island by themselves and would be a tough sell, but it would give the conference another time zone and flexibility in TV scheduling, plus recruiting in Texas.

  6. Eastern Washington -- Another above average football program at the FCS ranks and a very good following but need a massive upgrade for their football stadium which holds not even 10,000 seats.

The final two options are really just shots in the dark, and really BYU, too.

Go to 16 teams?!?

This could cause issues like the old WAC which ultimately created to the Mountain West. This would mean four teams would need to be added, and we will present two versions one with Wichita State and one without.

Wichita State, BYU, North Dakota State and UTEP. This group fits nicely geographically. Now, if we do not include Wichita State in football then BYU and UTEP would still make the cut and then bring in Texas State and UTSA.

One final scenario comes up because odds are BYU is not going to come back as full members would be to go with Texas State, UTSA, North Dakota State and Wichita State.

Mountain and West divisions could still work for the most part. The big adjustment is sticking Boise State and New Mexico in the West.

Scenario A

Mountain West
Wichita State Boise State
UTEP Nevada
North Dakota State UNLV
BYU San Jose State
Utah State San Diego State
Colorado State Hawaii
Wyoming New Mexico
Air Force Fresno State

Scenario B

Mountain West
Texas State Boise State
UTEP Nevada
BYU San Jose State
Utah State San Diego State
Colorado State Hawaii
Wyoming New Mexico
Air Force Fresno State

Scenario C

Mountain West
North Dakota State Boise State
Wichita State Nevada
Texas State San Jose State
Utah State San Diego State
Colorado State Hawaii
Wyoming New Mexico
Air Force Fresno State

Gonzaga? Yes, please!

There is no real reason for Gonzaga to go to move from the West Coast Conference which they have dominated since the turn of the century, but the West Coast Conference took a hit last year with just on team in the NCAA Tournament, just like the Mountain West.

The Mountain West lifts its rule with no football teams in the conference and make a compelling argument for the Bulldogs and get the conference to 12 basketball schools. The Mountain West could just stick with Gonzaga and call it a day with 12 teams, but that might not be enough for the Zags to change leagues.

BYU really likes being an independent in football due to their TV deal and their schedule which is improving. For this argument lets say the Big 12 never calls the Cougars and they team up with a few WCC teams to join in non-football sports.

So, let's add BYU to get to 13 teams, and that means the conference needs one more team.

Wichita State could be a fit since they do have interest in hoops and to make this a great basketball league let's add them as well to make it a round 14 teams.

This would be a very solid league.

1. BYU
2. Gonzaga
3. Wichita State
5. Nevada
6. San Diego State
7. San Jose State
8. Utah State
9. Fresno State
10. Colorado State
11. Air Force
12. Wyoming
13. Boise State
14. New Mexico

Hawaii goes independent in football

This would help bring a lot of balance to the conference if the Warriors were to stay in the Big West for every sport but take their football team independent. They already have their own television deal and do not get the Mountain West media rights money or are eligible to be part of the TV bonus money. Also, there would be no more travel subsidies the school would have to pay Mountain West schools.

The Mountain West would not leave them high and dry and have some sort of scheduling agreement like Notre Dame has with the ACC. The Warriors could play six games each year from the Mountain West with three from each division and rotate. Teams like to go to Hawaii because they can get an extra home game to compensate for the trip, and maybe the Warriors could start scheduling more than six home games a year with that incentive.

With the Warriors gone the conference is down to 11 teams and the top choice is BYU but that is a long shot but it would be a simple fix. The other option would just to bring in Wichita State for when they start back up their football program.

Mountain West
Colorado State San Diego State
Air Force Fresno State
Wyoming San Jose State
Wichita State Nevada
Utah State UNLV
New Mexico Boise State

Football and basketball mix?

This caused trouble for the old Big East, and very well could for the Mountain West. The ideal combo would be to go with the 14 basketball team mentioned above with BYU, Wichita Stat and Gonzaga coming aboard, and then stick with a 12-team football league minus Hawaii, but keep a scheduling agreement with them.

The ideal mix? I am not sure but this is the off season so let's have some fun. There are too many options for a poll, so chime in on the comments on these ideas, or your own.