NT, Rice, and UTSA were also added by the AAC to keep the MWC from expanding into the major Texas metro areas.
Here is a take on the Birmingham media market from an Oregon St fan board:
"Someone linked a NYTimes article earlier. It was interesting. Basically it said it's not the size of the TV market but the amount of fans that will search out the game. It compared New York city & Birmingham AL from a college football perspective. I don't remember the numbers exactly but it was something like this. NYC has 11M people. Birmingham has 1.2M. 10% of NYC are college football fans giving them 1.1M fans. 85% of Birmingham are fans . . 930K fans. Birmingham is nearly as big. And in NYC those 1.1M are spread out among UConn, Syracuse, Rutgers, Notre Dame and much of the Big10. In Birmingham they are almost all Alabama or Auburn fans."
Yet when the AAC expanded it was media market driven. Dallas, Houston, San Antonio,Birmingham, South Florida, Charlotte. Perhaps UTSA and UAB can turn on a few tv's, but I doubt Rice or some of the other 3 programs can.