The Mountain West is adding Boise State - which doesn't have anything to do with the Big 12 shakeout, but will have a lot to do with it once the BCS is urged to reassess its at large and automatic qualifiers in 2011 by the bowl games and playa conferences (and there will be only three: the Pac (Fill In Number), expanded SEC, expanded Big 10).
We wish you well, Big East.
The Mountain West may be weak at the bottom, but it now features four football teams - Utah, BYU, Boise State, TCU - that have not just flirted with the national spotlight, but have taken it home and bought it cab fare the next morning. Big boy expansions are about revenue, but middling-conference expansions are about respect and relevance. Get that RPI up, get the dumb media talking, beef up the conference slate, and suddenly the MWC is contending for the #4 football conference in football hearts and minds.
One can point out that the bottom of the MWC is Charmin-soft, but that doesn't matter perceptually - conference opinions are formed from the top down. The ACC has had a balance of competitive mediocrity for a decade running and no one really gives a damn that Maryland might hammer San Diego State.
Now that the MWC has ten teams, what's next?
While the crowd marvels at the spectacle of the Big 12 estate sale, the Mountain West will be quietly slipping through the crowd grabbing wallets and watches. And, of course, the MWC can't wait to sift through the post-Big 12 refuse and dung heap. The rich are always throwing out nice things. Some possibilities?
Hey, look - I found a Kansas! Why are they here?
Kansas is getting the shaft in all of this, and this is a terrible basketball fit, but where exactly are they supposed to go? Perhaps Conference USA? Is that the conference with Alcorn State, Dartmouth, Yale, and Grambling in it? Or is that the MAC?
And look - a Kansas State! Feed it some JUCOs and it may start to look like its old self again.
My heart doesn't go out to KSU, primarily due to their ability to consistently and improbably torture us during out time in the Big 12. Still, this is an accredited college of cosmetology and court reporting and that doesn't just grow on trees. Except in Manila and other large English-speaking 3rd World capitals.
Oh, a Baylor.
Take Baylor simply for the entertainment value of the potential Baylor/BYU eucamenical gridiron orgy, aka Living Dockers Collective. It's a classic matchup: one side believes that the other will be their after life slaves on their own private planet, the other regards their opponent as cultist heretics. Yet both fanbases have the same affinity for small market news anchor haircuts. That's a bridge across the chasm of dueling faiths. Let's walk it. Together.
Of course, none of these places listed above actually have mountains, but TCU already played Rosa Parks on that one. By exanding into the flatlands, the Mountain West will invigorate their wheat crop and curb mountain lion attacks on conference adminstrators sharply. So, win-win.
The Mountain West may add some of the above or none of the above (the Kansas basketball sell is a hard one in that non-hooping league) but a jackal always feasts in the chaos when the lions battle the hyenas over an elephant carcass.