Will the MWC become a BCS conference?

There is a lot of speculation right now about expansion and realignment, but no one seems to be noticing that fact that we are now halfway through a four year BCS cycle. What is that exactly? No one really knows that the 6 automatic qualifying conferences aren’t always a lock to be that way. Every four years the BCS evaluates the conferences and can have UP TO 7 automatic qualifiers. So just how has the MWC done thus far? Well, halfway through this cycle, they are certainly on target to get that auto bid starting in 2012.

The BCS analyze a number of criteria when determining which conferences receive auto bids to the BCS bowl games. One of them is where each conference’s highest ranked team ends up in the final BCS standings. This has played well to the MWC. Over the last two years, only the Big 12 and SEC (avg. 1.5) have a higher average ranking than the MWC (Avg. 5). As a contrast, the Big Ten’s average was 8 and the ACC 11.5. Even the WAC beat both of them (thank you Boise State).

Another thing they look at is how many teams each conference has in the final BCS standings. TCU, Utah and BYU have consistently been in the final BCS standings the past two years. That’s a better average than the Big East, which is at 2.5, and tied with the ACC. So it is obvious the top teams in the MWC are holding their own with the top teams of other conferences.

Here comes a potential problem. There is significant drop off after those top three teams. Air Force tends to do well, but that is about it. The rest of the MWC is pretty bad. The MWC average computer ranking in the final BCS is 59.9. The worst auto conference right now is the Big Ten at 50.8. This is certainly going to hurt the MWC in their quest for an auto bid to be sure.

So what is to be done? I believe at the current rate, unless those bad teams pick it up, the MWC will not get an auto bid because of how weak the conference is as a whole. So what is to be done? Simple, the answer lies in expansion.

Everyone is talking about it. It’s no secret the Pac-10 has been eying Utah and BYU. But would they really jump? I doubt it. No one wants to leave a conference they dominate. Rather, make the conference better. At 9 teams the MWC is a smaller conference. They would need to get to 12 for sure in order to get that BCS bid.

So which three teams to add? Well, the MWC has no academic standards like the Pac-10. They don’t seem to have any criteria at all to be honest. They just broke from the WAC and took whoever would come along. So we really only need to look at geography and benefit to the conference. Since football makes the money, that is their only consideration here. Who cares about the other sports for these schools.

I believe this makes Boise State a no brainer. Great football school. Close geography. Adds great prestige and another top program in the country. But who should be the other two? Let’s look at the conference as a whole.

Right now you have one team in CA, one team in NV, two teams in UT, one team in WY, two teams in CO, one team in NM and one team in TX. That’s pretty spread out there. When making conferences you have to consider where these schools are located. Should you get more teams in the east, more in the west?

I think the next best team to add is Fresno State. Great football program. Not afraid to play anybody. Plus it makes for an easy divisional alignment with San Diego State, UNLV, Boise State, Utah and BYU. Pretty strong division if you ask me. So that leaves us with TCU, Wyoming, Air Force, Colorado State and New Mexico. Someone else in their neck of the woods might not be a bad idea. Good candidates?

I think your best pick is to grab Houston. They have been getting better and better in football all the time. They are in a HUGE television market as well. Plus the school is a pretty good one. However, I believe you have to try and snag Texas Tech first. They probably won’t bolt the Big 12, but you never know. There’s a consistently good program that knows it will never compete in the Big 12 South. Maybe a change in scenery would help? Worth a shot if you ask me.

This makes a 12 team MWC that adds some firepower to the BCS resume. However, I don’t think this goes far enough. I think the MWC really needs to expand to 14 teams in order to really compete and get some credibility. That’s why I think they also need to add Nevada to the West division and SMU to the East. The Mustangs are really starting to come on. If they refuse, try UTEP. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind the cut in travel time.

There you have it. This is a winning formula for the MWC to become BCS eligible. What do you think?