There have a flurry of articles popping up on the internet and local news about how the Mountain West is entertaining the idea of discussing expansion in June and the team that pops up the most is the Boise State Broncos. There are two good articles that I found in the Utah paperse and one is from the Salt Lake Tribune and the other coming from KUTV which I think gives a better look and puts into perspective more then just Boise State.
If this were a reality I would see it coming at the earliest in 2009 season and that might give enough time to reschedule games and all the logistics. The reason that there has not been any expansion talk is because there was a three year freeze on expanding once TCU joined the league. This June is when the league could possibly discuss and I think they should discuss to have 9 conference football games and get rid of the I-AA teams that the conference has been scheduling. Below is a list of schools that I think would be a viable option, and they are in alphabetical order.
Boise State This one for football purposes is obvious, because they moved up the ranks from I-AA to national attention in about a decade, and just by adding this team for football would give the conference more national credibility. Plus the conference would be creeping up on the ACC and Big East in overall football play. As for the other sports Boise would need to add baseball and softball (which is in the works), the market size really does nothing for TV, and recruiting does not get an advantage there. Boise is improving in basketball so it will not be a doormant in other sports. Football is the money maker and getting an autio bid into BCS is the goal, or at least sending a team there each year by getting an at-large berth. Travel would be a concern but Boise is getting big enough where there are non stop flights to Denver, Salt Lake, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, San Diego, and Dallas.
Fresno State This would give the conference a chance to get more signatute wins more often, because Fresno will play anyone and every now and then they knock off one of those teams. Travel is pretty easy to get to and from Fresno and it’s only a few hours from San Diego State. Basketball is on its way back up with Steve Cleveland the former BYU coach there. This would help recruiting since most schools recruit California and it would increase TV market somewhat with being cloe to San Francisco, but they are shadowed by 2 Pac-10 schools, the NBA, and two NFL teams.
Hawai’i This is probably the most far fetched and it is not because of competiton level. Their men’s basketball and football would fit in nice here, but the travel to Texas for non revenue sports would severly hurt their budget. It would help recruiting at least for Utah and BYU that heavily recruit Hawai’i, but again the TV market size is not there to make a dent, but to be honest none of the schools being considered would move the meter.
Nevada They would be a natural rival with UNLV and their baskeball program would rival the best of the MWC. Their football team is slowly on the uprise and would be on par with New Mexico and Colorado State. The only thing I feel Nevada offers is their hoops program which would put the MWC on par with the Missouri Valley Conference if not above them, but for football their climb has been slow. Travel would not be a big deal with the proximity to Las Vegas and even Utah would be a short flight.
Tulsa This may seem an odd ball but it would help out TCU to gain a travel partner and allow teams to get 2 games in on one trip with basketball, volleyball, and soccer. Tulsa has tradition of good football and basketball as well in recent years. Plus they were in the old 16 team WAC. Tulsa would provide coverage to fans to a different part of the country that normally would not care or not see Mountain West play.
UTEP The old WAC team would be a good fit for shorting travel with New Mexico and somewhat with TCU. Their hoops team did improve with Billy Gillispie who turned them around in a few short years and their football team just got good with Mike Price. As we saw with baskeball when Billy Gillispie left the team dropped off and it is only a mater of time before Mike Price takes off for a bigger job.
Overall I feel there are two options that make the most sense to add if the conference decides to go for 10 teams. First pick would be Boise State because of how good they are in football, and that is what drives college sports. My second choice would be Tulsa because they are still very good in football even though they do not have the glamour of Boise, but their hoops is always good and would fit in nice with MWC hoops play. We will see if this is done sooner, but the TV deal will have a lot in deciding this because if The Mtn. is not on dish or statallite this could delay expansion until the 2013-2014 school year when the TV deal expires.