FanPost

Why UTEP should join the Mountain West

Bump'd From the FanPosts- Conference Realignment isn't going anywhere and this is a nice perspective on why UTEP might be interested in the MWC.  - AM

Sorry I haven't been around as much, bitching about UT has taken up the majority of my time lately, couple that with the chaos in the Mountain West, and finals I haven't kept tabs over here.

First let me be frank, the MWC's TV contract is HORRIBLE they must do something to change it to have a prayer at taking ANY Conference USA team.

Second lets make some assumptions:
1st Hawaii and a non-football school (like Denver) join the Mountain West
2nd Utah St joins to keep the Mtn. on in Utah and the SLC market and adds excellent basketball
3rd another team WILL be added either from CUSA or the dieing WAC

That leaves the Mountain West with only a few reasonable options because adding anyone (besides UTEP) in the state of Texas will only increase travel costs and have little market saturation.  TCU has been great but people in Texas don't watch, and yes I blame some of that on the TV contract.

Most MWC fans want UTEP, for their kick ass basketball, El Paso media market, history with WAC/MWC schools, great attendance numbers, and their improving football program.

That leads me to why I think UTEP should join the Mountain West Conference.

1st the MWC (after expanding) will be more solid than CUSA which could get picked apart by the Big East either to just get to 10 or 12 by taking any number of candidates like UCF (for USF), Memphis (for basketball), ECSU (as football only) , Marshall (geographically close), Houston or SMU (for TCU). 

The Big East could also be picked apart by the Big 12 (Louisville and Cinncy), Big Ten (Rutgers, Syracuse) and ACC (UConn, Pitt, WV) which could cause CUSA to lose all of the members listed above to the the dieing Big East.  In my opinion after the WAC, CUSA and the Big East are the conferences MOST in danger of extinction.  CUSA's only hope is that ALL of the Big East's members join other conferences (which will probably not happen) because if they don't the Big East will be a stronger more powerful version of the WAC grabbing at any school to stay alive like a drowning cats gasping for air.

Now look at the Mountain West, the most likely candidates to be poached are Boise St (for football), New Mexico (for basketball and market), and Air Force (for military following).  The only conference that would take them is the Big 12 which would take BYU first and then possibly one of these but they are all at the bottom of their wish list behind Notre Dame (not as crazy as it sounds with the Big 12's uneven revenue distribution and allowing individual schools to have networks but still a longshot), Arkansas (who could make more in the Big 12 than the SEC), Louisville, and Cinncy.  The Mountain West is under little or no threat of being poached unlike CUSA who has a hungry Lion at the door ready to pounce.

Also take a look at the possible replacements to CUSA, Troy, LA Tech, and North Texas; while these schools have decent athletics it will not nearly makeup for the loss of any of the schools.

So why after looking at these two conferences do people think the MWC is in more danger than CUSA?

2nd the MWC is still a very well rounded conference even after the loss of the big three (TCU, Utah, BYU).

Compare CUSA football with the New MWC (UTEP omitted)
UCF-Boise St winner MWC
ECSU-Nevada winner CUSA for now
Houston-Hawaii winner MWC
SMU-Air Force winner MWC for now
Tulsa-San Diego St winner CUSA for now
So Miss-Fresno St winner MWC

The rest are all about even, so the MWC to me appears to be the strongest especially with Boise St who isn't at risk of going anywhere.

Basketball is basically just Memphis, UCF and UAB vs UNLV, New Mexico, and Utah St.

CUSA wins this one at the moment, Memphis is the obvious powerhouse but besides that they are about even, other schools like Boise St and ESCU may be good every so often but they aren't really basketball schools.  But once again I give the longterm edge to the MWC because Memphis and UCF are begging for Big East invites while UNLV, NM, and USU have no where else to go.

Media Markets-

MWC-Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Reno, Fresno, and San Deigo
CUSA-Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, Memphis, and Orlando

CUSA wins this one, but again Memphis, Orlando, Dallas, and Houston are all possible additions for the Big East.  Also the MWC markets are only shared with the PAC12 and the WAC while the CUSA markets are split between Big 12, SEC, ACC, Big East, and the Sun Belt so their product is more diluted than the Mountain West's.  Also ESPN love those late night games and with just the Pac12 and the MWC on the tube you know more people would see the MW games than CUSA games (especially if their TV contract is reworked).  

Overall the conferences seem pretty even, MWC wins in football (which is the most important now it seems) while CUSA win with Memphis in basketball and has a slight edge in media markets.

3rd the Mountain West Conference is just a better brand than Conference USA.  The MWC's footprint is more consolidated, and their teams are more recognizable than CUSA.  People were confusing the WAC with the MWC but now it will be more simplified and easier to follow, which will bring more interest to the conference and more eyes to the TV sets.  Meanwhile CUSA is a mess, while most of us here can name the schools in it, many others can not.  I have many friends who actively watch college football but often don't recognize a CUSA school even when watching the games.  They see Marshall and think MAC, and that UAB is in the Sun Belt.  CUSA is all over the place from West Virginia to El Paso, and Oklahoma to Florida.  CUSA just doesn't have the same appeal that the Mountain West does.

Also the football excellence has put the MWC on the map, people know the Mountain West, ESPN constantly talks about them, therefor more people recognize that it is a good conference.  So even if CUSA is the same as the Mountain West  or better in all aspects, it will not be recognized as a "elite mid-major conference" until its has had successful teams like Utah, BYU, TCU, Boise St, and Hawaii in it; Houston and ECSU have gotten close but this takes multiple years before people will consider them a "good" conference.

Finally the elephant in the room, the TV contract.  This is the reason BYU left, TCU and Utah got their AQ bids so their was no stopping them.  The MWC commissioner Thompson is working on expansion to not only add more schools and get a conference championship game but also to get out of the bad contract that relegates the top ranked TCU/Utah game the CBS College Sports and others to the obscure Mtn. or Versus.  If they can prove that this contract should be null and void with the massive 10 school shift (TCU, BYU, Utah, Boise St, Nevada, Fresno St, Utah St, UTEP, Hawaii-football only, and Denver-non football)  and the addition of the CCG then they could easily start a bidding war between ESPN (who had the WAC's contract) FoxSports (who is losing conference contracts) CBS (who had the MWC) and even NBC (who is expanding their weekend sports coverage).  This could get the MWC plenty of late coverage with ESPN, daytime coverage with NBC, and national coverage with Fox, and still their own network (which is slowly growing) with CBS.  There are possibilities galore but I guarantee you something will happen before 2012 when the MWC is hoping to have its first CCG.  However if the MWC expands to 12 without UTEP, they may again be on the outside looking in and be cursed to watch their most successful conferencemates leave them for greener pastures and ultimately be in a league that is just the Sun Belt 2.0.

That is basically all of my arguements, let me know what you think.

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