With Fresno State and Nevada jumping to the Mountain West, and BYU threatening independence, it was only a matter of time before your Houston Cougars got run through the rumor mill again. On Friday, there were two separate rumors that cropped up. One had Houston defecting to the MWC, the other had Conference USA and the MWC going through a psuedo-merger, which would see the champion of each conference facing off yearly, with the winner earning a BCS auto-bid.
First let's take a look at the scenario of Houston joining the Mountain West.
A jump to the MWC only really benefits the Cougars if the conference can get its long-sought BCS auto-bid, the chances of which drop to a number very close to zero if the Utah-based Cougars decide to try their hand at conferencelessness. (Yes, I just made up that word, feel free to steal it.) Even sans BYU, the MWC is a stronger league than C-USA, sure. But is it worth the increased travel expenses? At present, Houston has three very manageable roadies - Rice, SMU and Tulane. In the MWC, there is TCU... and the next-nearest team would be, what, New Mexico? It'd be worth the hassle if a conference championship equals a BCS berth, otherwise forget it.
The C-USA/MWC merger/collaboration/thing has an obvious appeal. No, it's not a replacement to joining a better conference. Ultimately, C-USA will never provide the money or prestige that UH seeks and deserves. But for the time being, why not? The Cougars can head into each season knowing that they are in control of their own destiny, as far as obtaining a berth to a BCS bowl goes. You can tell your recruits that you have an in with the BCS. The idea would even give a boost to the brand value of C-USA. There's really no downside.
Of course, whether this is a realistic possibility, or a pipe-dream on behalf of the two conferences involved remains to be seen.