by Ralph Routon
Just when the Mountain West Conference appeared to have weathered the storm of losing charter members Brigham Young and Utah after this academic year, now comes another blow that could threaten the league's future stability.
Texas Christian University, after dominating the Mountain West in football most years but having to hold its breath in hopes of a Bowl Championship Series, reportedly has accepted an invitation to join the Big East Conference in 2012.
That means, as of 2012, the Mountain West's membership apparently would include Air Force, Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada, Colorado State, Wyoming, New Mexico, San Diego State, Nevada-Las Vegas and Hawaii. That's 10, but it lacks much of the national appeal that the conference had with TCU, Utah and Brigham Young, and lessens the MWC's chances of perhaps earning a guaranteed BCS berth.
It also means the Mountain West loses its place in the coveted Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex market, unless the conference is able to move quickly and perhaps add Southern Methodist (also possibly Houston) from Conference USA.
This development conceivably could lead to some kind of merger between the Mountain West and either the Western Athletic Conference or Conference USA. But for now it creates a serious threat to the Mountain West's future.