All sorts of plans are coming out about conference expansion and conference mergers. The stated goal of conference realignment by Bob Kustra and conference mergers by Craig Thompson: BCS-AQ status. Competitively speaking, Boise State does not need BCS-AQ status. They are in the driver's seat for a BCS bid this year and could conceivably get to the big show with a loss this year. Boise State needs a more clear road to the BCS Championship game and the biggest road block is their actual Strength of Schedule and, even more so, their perceived strength of schedule.
For example, the most recent plan puts BSU in a division with Fresno (3-5), Hawaii(4-3), San Diego State (4-2), San Jose State* (3-4), UNLV (1-5), Nevada (4-3), and Utah State (2-5). That's a grand total record of 19-27 and it's not going to help Boise State get any further than the Mountain West's combined records this year or the WAC's combined records last year. In fact, this schedule line-up could be worse than Houston's this year and could drop a good team into obscurity that a championship game (against Central Florida) might not help it overcome.
Now, I see a lot of value in a merger with Conference USA and even more with the Big East but the plans that have emerged do not exploit that value. If you are going to have a collection of 28 or 32 teams, why not let the best teams play each other. The group of teams I am calling the Non-AQ Cooperative (NAC) should adopt a 'football pyramid' or a system of promotion and relegation to assure that the best programs play each other to improve strength of schedule. For instance, the English Premier League (soccer) uses this system to insure the best clubs are playing at the highest level; the league relegates the bottom 3 teams and replaces them by promoting 3 teams from lower divisions each year (the best 2 and the champion of a playoff between the next best 4 teams).
I'm not sure that exact method is the best for college football, but something similar could be used. Now, if the best 8 teams (selected by winning percentage of the past 3 years) were in the 'premier division,' they would play 7 divisional games and would have 2 games left over to preserve their rivalry games. Four (or more should the MAC and Sun-Belt join) regional divisions could be used to separate the teams into regional collections of teams playing at a similar level. That leaves 24 teams for the lower divisions.
West A - East A
West B - East B
Teams in the Premier League (based on their combined records from 2008, 2009, and 2010) would include:
Air Force (25-14) .641; Boise State (38-2) .950; Cincinnati (27-12) .692; Nevada (28-12) .700; South Florida (24-15) .615; Tulsa (25-13) .658; UCF (23-16) .590; UCONN (24-15) .615
*Fresno State (23-16) and Houston (23-16) were the first teams out with a record equal to UCF; UCF was promoted because their 2010 record was the best of the three.
The West A and East A divisions are the middles divisions. I don't have time to write out all of them, so I'll just do the west. West A teams would include:
Fresno State (23-16); Hawaii (23-18); Houston (23-16); San Diego State (15-22); SMU (16-23); UTEP (15-22)
The lowest division in the west, West B, would include:
Colorado State (13-24); New Mexico (6-30); UNLV (12-25); San Jose State (9-28); Utah State (11-25); Wyoming (14-23)
I think this set-up would improve BSU's chance at making it to the BCS Championship game based on an improved strength of schedule (should they be able to make it through the weekly grind of playing good teams on a week-in and week-out basis-slight sarcasm).