Let's be clear. An invitation to the MWC would be completely welcomed, and with UTEP moving closer to Tier-1 status, an invite to the Big XII could possibly come in the next five years. What C-USA will soon be is unacceptable if UTEP hopes to climb to the next level athletically in order to complement its approaching Tier-1 academic research.
So, if UTEP is not invited to a more competitive conference, why can't the Miners go independent in football and basketball? Obviously the university won't garner any media contract on its own, but playing teams like Florida Atlantic, Florida International and Middle Tennessee State won't put it in any national televised games either. Staying in C-USA could possibly even regress the athletic program.
Instead, independence would allow the basketball and football teams to schedule power conference universities for every single game, theoretically making UTEP a part of every single power conference. It would remove the hindrance playing within a conference with lowly media rights and teams that only provide a weak strength of schedule. Texas Western was independent when it won its national championship.
Although no media rights would come with independence alone(à la Notre Dame), playing teams within power conferences, with lucrative media rights already, would constantly put them on national television. Just this year, UTEP's football games versus Oklahoma and Wisconsin put the team on Fox Sports and ESPN 2, respectively, while basketball games against Arizona, Oklahoma and Clemson have put the university on Fox Sports, ESPN 2 and ESPN 2, respectively.
The landscape of college athletics is rapidly changing, and begging for a deserved spot in a better league isn't completely necessary. The Miners could effectively create its own "power conference" schedule independently so it isn't left behind, again.