The Mountan West and Conference USA announced a long-planned, football-only merger yesterday that has as one of its goals acquiring an automatic BCS berth for its champion.
I cannot imagine any chance of that happening.
The Mountain West, on its own, has been hoping to meet the three-part qualification standard for becoming an AQ conference for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. It looks like that will fall short, although the league should have an opportunity to appeal to the BCS presidential oversight committee. I can't see any non-political reason for that appeal to be granted.
The qualification standard has three parts and is based on a four-year cycle that ends with the current season. The parts are the highest ranked team in the league, the average BCS computer rankings of all the teams in the league, and the number of top 25 teams in the league.
If a non-AQ conference finishes the four-year cycle in the top six conferences in the first two categories, it becomes AQ. If it finishes in the top five in one of the two, seventh in the other, and meets a minimum standard in the third category, the league can appeal to the POC. That's where the MWC stands entering this season.
The Mountain West is in the top five in the highest ranked team category and a distant seventh (yes, well behind the Big East) in the second category. It is not mathematically possible for the MWC to finish sixth, and it hasn't been a particularly good year for the league anyway.
Conference USA is in a battle for 8th place in this list with the WAC, and both are well behind the MWC in all three categories, and that's the problem for this association's attempt to get an AQ spot in the BCS. Adding C-USA dilutes the Mountain West.
That is not even taking into consideration that both leagues are under attack from the Big East, which is looking to grow its membership.
In a semi-related note, the Big East's AQ status is not in doubt for at least two more years, and maybe longer, if it can get its membership numbers up and stabilized. There is no formal process for removing AQ status from a conference like there is for adding it. That doesn't mean the BCS poobahs can't create a process or strip a league of its AQ status without one, but it will be at least the 2014 season before that would happen.
In an effort to prevent that, the Big East will invite Air Force, Boise St (MWC), UCF (C-USA) and Navy to join its ranks next week, Brett McMurphy posted yesterday. Other reports say that SMU and Houston (C-USA) will recieve invites as well. That doesn't mean those invites will be accepted.
There may be other, perfectly good reasons for these two leagues to work together like this (TV, scheduling, etc), but getting a BCS berth for its champion looks like a pipe dream.