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Should the MAC head off expansion with some of it's own?

The MAC is in the somewhat enviable (and somewhat pitiable) position of being about the least likely conference to be affected by massive expansion. Aside from the Sun Belt conference no conference is less likely to lose key members should only the BCS conferences expand. One thing I had not considered, until reading a post over at Mountain West Connection, was that the MAC might benefit from quickly trying to expand their ranks.

Granted the MAC is not in a power position like the MWC. The Mountain West is on the cusp of being declared an AQ conference and the chances Boise State joins to strengthen the conference are not negligible. The MAC, on the other hand, just got its first Bowl win in years and having a team finish in the top 25 (CMU) was a pleasant surprise for the conference.

Realistically there are two teams that have a small chance of ending up on another conferences short list:
  • Temple: Yes the Big East is possible, then again after the big ten gets done taking the conference behind the woodshed the days of the Big East being an AQ conference might be numbered. Short of going to the Big East the Owls, on the strength of their Basketball program and the hugeness that is the Philadelphia TV market, could easily find themselves invited Conference USA.
  • Buffalo: The odds of Buffalo landing in an eviscerated Big East is near zero (near zero, not at zero). Because of the Market size (mid 40's) and the lack of programs in New York State (just Syracuse and Buffalo) UB is the only way into the state for any conference which does not count Syracuse a member. Buffalo could also find it self extended an invite to conference USA if they are beaten up by a reloading Big East.
If someone put a gun to my head and asked me what will happen if the MAC does nothing I would say Temple is gone (Big East or Conference USA) and Buffalo remains. The MAC could let it sit at that. After all while losing the Philly market would be a bummer but the quality of MAC football would not really suffer too terribly by Temple leaving.

But what if instead of sitting around waiting for the other shoe to fall the MAC decided to grow itself to a 16 team conference? Assuming Temple left should the conference try to add four more teams?

Based on a highly scientific process which involves a pair of die, a coin, a spinner from shoots and ladders, and wikipedia I narrowed down the list of schools I think the MAC *Could* look to. I'm sure I missed some better candidates but here were my filters:
  • Must Be Division on for Football (FBS/FCS) and Basketball
  • Must be located in a state in, or connected to some state hosting a MAC team
  • Must not be in Ohio or Michigan (The MAC is already too heavy in those states)
  • Must have more than 15,000 students
  • Must have more than 14 or more sports
First there are the three schools I think would be the best 'gets' for the MAC, they are all here because they are near enough to the conference (for the most part) and already have FBS teams.





School
WKU Mid-Ten Temple
Students
20,700 25,188 39,915
Conf
Sun Belt Sun Belt MAC/A10
RPI
133 182 8
Att. BB
5,398 3,833 5,933
Att. FB
14,103 20,517 17,379
FB Cap
22,500 31,000 68,500
D1 Sports
17 15 22

Temple: This is the "would be nice but it's not going to happen" option. On the off chance Temple is not moving to anther conference I doubt the MAC could temp them in for basketball. Of course telling them they either have to go all in or leave might carry some weight, but I doubt it.

WKU: The Hill Toppers are 'the one that got away' when the MAC did not pull the trigger on them a few years back. They might not look like a sexy addition to the conference but they are close to OU and Miami, they are already FBS, they are in a good recruiting state, and their basketball attendance is great. I'm pretty sure under the right circumstances the MAC could tempt them away from the SBC but it won't be as asy as it could have been in 2007-2008.

Middle Tennessee: Like WKU they have a far better sports culture than people generally give them credit for. If the MAC was able to pull in WKU than Middle Tennessee would be an amazing addition. If not I don't think it would work.

Now for the FCS Schools:




School Albany S. Brook EKU MSU South Ill St Ill State
Students
18,000
24,000
16,301
20,800
21,000
20,800
Conf
AE
AE
OVC
MVC
MVFC
MVC
MVC
RPI
300
143
155
90
171
76
Atten BB*
2,826
1,293
2,148
7,147
5,892
7,188
Atten FB
3,920
4,802
6,520
9,570
8,882
9,573
FB Cap
10,000
8,300
22,000
16,600
15,000
17,000
D1 Sports
19
18
15
14
16
17

SUNY Schools (Albany / Stony Brook): As much as I would like either Albany or Stony Brook to be on the short list I don't see it happening. Mainly because there is no way that they can raise the money needed to improve their football facilities up to the FBS level any time soon. If you put aside the stadium issues Stony Brook would be a solid conference addition.

Stony Brook has great academics, a respectable basketball program (but their attendance is disappointing) and are a stones throw from New York City.

Eastern Kentucky: This would be an excellent school to go after because it already has a passable football stadium, a basketball program on par with many MAC schools, and could be the bait needed to land WKU.

Missouri State University: In terms of geography this is the worst fit for the MAC, MSU is in south west Missouri which would make a a reasonable hike for only NIU, Miami, and Ball State and even those schools would have a pretty long trip. What Missouri State does have is an amazing fan base and a pretty good basketball program.

Illinois Schools: Either, or both, of these schools work, they are a short bus trip from NIU, Ball State, Miami and a reasonable trip to Bowling Green, Toledo, and WMU. They are both schools with facilities at, or near, a level good enough for FBS, solid fan support and well performing Basketball Programs.

Assuming that Temple leaves the MAC what teams should the conference attempt to add (Vote for the number of teams you think the MAC should add)