West to East to West?
It looked as though UTSA had found their place. Realignment had fallen in favor of the University, and put them in a decent conference with a nice geographic division. Certainly, things would stay this way for a few years giving the opportunities to create long standing rivals and conference allies. So it seemed. The moves of Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten set forth a ripple effect, an effect yet to to be fully resolved. The move has already weakened Conference USA, as the Big East pulled East Carolina and Tulane. East Carolina was one of the stronger programs in the conference despite having little sex appeal to fans in the San Antonio area. Tulane is known for being an academic prize, something presidents claim still matters, but the big loss is New Orleans. New Orleans is a decent TV market and a great destination, I always thought it was the perfect place for the roaming CUSA tournament to call it’s permanent home. It is smack in the middle of the conference and would attract the out of towners. Although, I have been warned that the curbs on Bourbon Street can give black eyes, and did to a Roadrunner just this weekend.
Right now, Boise State is playing the Mountain West Conference against the Big East, trying to leverage the best individual deal they can. Common sense takes them back west, they have a real opportunity to build up a conference that could rival the power five conferences in both basketball and football. If they were to go back, along with San Diego State (no guarantee) and pull BYU into the fold, this would probably be a minimum 4 bid basketball league. Add Houston to the mix, you have almost all the BCS Busters that haven’t elevated to the Big 5 (Utah and TCU). If Houston insists SMU to be involved, add them and UTEP, that’s a good league and one that added some serious TV markets. Boise State has a national following, Houston, DFW, San Diego and the Mormon Nation are great markets. Not over-expanding after losing Boise State and SDSU looks to be genius now. The conference did replace the schools, but stopped at 10 members, and those replacements have turned out to look pretty good as well. Utah State has a strong recent basketball history and this year the football program turned things around. San Jose State has a huge market, but not a very impressive athletic program, this football season, the usual crappy Spartans had a great season. Both squads lost their coaches, but moving to the MWC should be helping their status.
If Boise does move back west, what happens next? Using a different strategy, CUSA, back-filled quickly and to get back up to 14. Doing this diluted the conference to a degree that I don’t believe any of the schools that left over the last two years will have a desire to return. I don’t think the Big East will die with a Boise and SDSU duck out, the others will sit tight, Houston and SMU will either stick it out or also move to MWC. The Big East make take a few more CUSA teams to round things out and CUSA will pick up some more crappy Sunbelt teams. UTEP likes playing in Houston and DFW, if UH and SMU were to move to MWC, it would be a really nice fit for UTEP to do the same, especially now that TV money has improved.
I don’t see any opportunities in this round for UTSA, and I don’t see our conference getting any stronger with it. The more equal the group of five is, the more entertaining the battle of the midgets will be in football each year. Having one conference dominate, assuming it’s not our conference, would really stunt what could make football for the little guys so much more entertaining. This time realignment is not going to benefit UTSA, the best we can hope for is to preserve the three other Texas schools in our division to build the rivalries we want to build. Oh and maybe those Bobcats get called up. Reports say that NMSU and Western Kentucky are on deck for further CUSA replacements….yay.
This is what I think the Mountain West vision should be. If they could pull it off, I think they would be pushing away from the kids table and grabbing a high chair with the big boys:
West- Hawaii, Fresno State, San Jose State, San Diego State, Boise State, Nevada, UNLV
East- Houston, SMU, UTEP, New Mexico, Colorado State, Air Force, Wyoming, BYU, Utah State
If you have any interest in this realignment shit, follow me on twitter @ShaferCC I have a disgusting obsession with it.
The rare second generation Roadrunner and I have been so happy to see the developments over the last 10 years or so. I graduated way back in 2000, when football was just some far away dream. Twitter