Blog Entry

C-USA and MWC to join forces in football

Posted on: October 14, 2011 6:19 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 9:25 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli and Bryan Fischer

As's Dennis Dodd reported earlier on Friday, the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA are consolidating into one conference. The reasoning behind it is, as's Brett McMurphy reported on Friday, the Big East is set to extend invitations to Boise State and Air Force along with Navy and UCF.

Both conferences released a statement about their partnership on Friday night:

The Mountain West Conference and Conference USA have unanimously come to an agreement in principle to consolidate their member football programs into one large association.

Commissioners of the two leagues formulated this creative and innovative plan with the support of the presidents, chancellors and athletics directors. The 12 members of Conference USA and 10 football-playing members of the Mountain West will join forces for this strategic landmark in college football.

“The role of a conference is to provide its members with the best possible environment in which to conduct their intercollegiate athletics programs,” said Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson. “Rather than await changes in membership due to realignment, it became clear the best way to serve our institutions was to pursue an original concept. The Mountain West and C-USA share a number of similarities, and the creative merger of our football assets firmly positions our respective members for the future.”

The new conference, for football only, features 22 schools in 16 different states across five time zones (including Hawaii). Both leagues will continue to function as is for all other sports but they will work jointly on governance of the football side, though no specifics were given by either commissioner. The presidents of the member schools authorized Thompson and Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky to sign a memorandum of understanding earlier Friday as the first step in the process of consolidating the football programs.

"We really realized that college athletics is changing so fast and at such a rapid pace, if we're not quick to adapt we might lose some positioning," Banowsky said. "This is a structure that creates all kinds of fun, competitive opportunities. Nobody's ever put together a structure like this."

There is no name for the new venture, one of several details about the league that are still being worked out. The aim is for the conference to be operational by 2012 but they are focusing on 2013 as a more likely start date. Over the next 90 days a working group will explore how feasible it is to start next season but, given the already fluid realignment situation, nothing is assured. Banowsky said that there would likely be a two division model for the first year before moving to a mutli-divisional model down the road. There would be a football championship game no matter what the structure.

Both leaders said they have not had any conversations with the BCS about becoming an automatic qualifier conference and made it a point to say that nothing was guaranteed in terms of the BCS going forward and how it operates. The current agreement runs through the 2013-14 season with conferences reevaluated based on their membership as of December 2011.

"I don't think anyone can really predict what the future of the BCS will be or what it will look like," Banowsky said. "The idea that the BCS would simply be rebooted, as it has been in the past, I think is a significant question mark. From my perspective, this doesn't hang on that at all.

"I don't think anyone has a clear idea of what will happen in 2014," Banowsky said. "Will there even be a BCS? If there is, who will be in what conferences and what conferences will have access? Will there even be an automatic qualification?

"Our conferences will stand up together and speak with a stong voice. We will expect to have our champion recognized at the highest level."

In addition to the sheer size of the conference being an issue, the respective conference television contracts present a sticky situation. Both currently have separate deals with CBS Sports; while CUSA has partnered with Fox Sports and ESPN and the MWC has contracts with Comcast/NBC Sports. The MWC also owns and operates their own cable channel, The Mtn.

"It's all about inventory and it's all about programming" Thompson said. ""Better is better and more is better in the television industry."

"The schools that we're talking about have made significant investments in their football programs," Banowsky said of the new conference's appeal to television partners. "They're here and they're not going anywhere. The champion out of a group of schools like this is a worthy champion from my perspective."

The football only association has several models they've looked at, including as many as 24 teams participating. Adding to the already complicated setup is the fact that some of the current MWC and CUSA schools could be targets of other leagues, specifically the Big East. UCF, Boise State and Air Force leaders participated in the board of directors call early Friday morning and were part of the unanimous recommendation to proceed forward with the idea. Thompson said that the latter two had been in contact with the Big East but did not elaborate.

"Right now today, Friday afternoon, the intention is we start with 22," he said. "One of the beauties of this structure is the flexibility to accommodate additional members."

"We won't try to hold any one back if that's what they believe they want to do," Banowsky said. "As long as they're fair to the other members and they follow the rules, that's ok."


Since: Jun 26, 2011
Posted on: March 21, 2012 1:29 pm

C-USA and MWC to join forces in football

I agree - not a good move by both of these conferences.

Since: Mar 1, 2010
Posted on: February 22, 2012 6:47 am

C-USA and MWC to join forces in football

Not a good idea.

Since: Dec 22, 2011
Posted on: January 17, 2012 11:00 pm

C-USA and MWC to join forces in football

As a fan of a school in the MWC I do not like this move. It seems like a recipe for disaster. I rather exapnd, inviting Tulsa, Rice, UTEP,  and Utah State. That way the MWC can have a championship game. The merger with C-USA is too big, and just like when the WAC expanded to 16, it will fail.

Since: Oct 6, 2011
Posted on: January 15, 2012 9:19 pm

C-USA and MWC to join forces in football

IMO this is the time the WAC need to take advantage of this situation and send invites to Tulsa, UTEP, RICE, and Tulane.  This move would help mke the conference much better than it will be going forward. on the flip side, CUSA should not merge with the MWC, CUSA should stay as is and send invites to Temple, La Tech, Troy, W. Kentucky and Mid Tenn. State. FIU and FL Atlantic. Forming a 17-plus team leauge is not the answer, since there is a chance the BCS auto-qualifier status might go away.

Since: Oct 29, 2010
Posted on: October 16, 2011 2:34 pm

C-USA and MWC to join forces in football

Seems like the Commissioners from C-USA and the MWC were so afraid that their schools would be lured away by the BCS conferences that they decided to become the first super confernce instead. Looks to me that they made a HUGE decision based purely on emotion (fear). I hate this merger. The MWC has been THE BCS bowl crasher and has the most Bowl Challenge Cups with 4 (given by ESPN to the conference with the best record during bowl season). It's my belief that the MWC really wasnt far away from becoming a BCS conference, either by being added or by taking the Big Easts spot.

The MWC wouldve been better off trying to go after possible Big-12 leftovers over the last few months. Too late now that the Big-12 looks to be on more stable ground now that TCUs joining. Next option wouldve been to recruit SMU or Houston from C-USA. I dont think they tried that. Instead they make a huge decision to make the first super conference out of desperation in an attempt to not lose more teams and to get BCS AQ status.
Sorry MWC and C-USA, you're going to fail at both. The teams that are rumored to be in contact with BCS confernces are now begging to join based on the idea of playing in a 22 team conference. And nobody would want to join for exactly the same reason.

And a conference coving 5 time zones? W......T.......F?

Since: Sep 2, 2011
Posted on: October 15, 2011 6:13 am

C-USA and MWC to join forces in football

I'd like to see how this is going to work! Sounds like the WAC reinvented 15 years later. The simplest sollution seems to me is they get a waiver from the NCAA to hold what you might call a play-in game: conference champ vs. conference champ. Ideally it would be MWC vs. C-USA after BOTH conferences decide their champion. For this to happen each would need to be at 12 teams to hold their individual playoff with the winners facing off. Another practical solution is both conferences have 10 schools, this means at least 2 would have to leave C-USA or if Boise and AFA leave, shift SMU and Houston to the MWC. With 10 schools, both conferences could have round-robin schedules and erase any doubt about a conference champ before the championship game.

Since: Dec 23, 2008
Posted on: October 15, 2011 3:27 am

C-USA and MWC to join forces in football

I have been advocating this kind of move from the Big 12/Big East it wouldn't be this big but a move to 16 teams with two 8 team divisions. Means 7 conferance games, 4 non-con, and a conferance championship.  Currently the Big East has 5 schools (Rutgers,Louisville,Cincy, W.Virg, S Fla), I assume Uconn would head for the ACC but if they came along fine.  If Uconn comes that makes for 16 schools with TCU included, make the teams that were going to be the Big East plus one school from the Big 12(missouri) play each other, and the other 8 big 12 schools play each other.  Then no school has anymore extreme traveling than they would have if the conferances never changed except Missouri, who gets punished with more travel but gets the cookie of having the easier half schedule and the east coast to now recruit.  If Uconn does go ACC, then bring in Central Florida or somebody.  The point is its an easy fix and 16 is truly the ideal number of teams in conferance size.  The SEC is now at 13 and they should expand to 14 to balance sides. The big 12 needs to act now to insure it isn't raided for another member.

Since: May 22, 2011
Posted on: October 15, 2011 1:51 am

C-USA and MWC to join forces in football

This is a huge Joke!! Way too many teams.. It mighy be all right if they kept the conferences seperate and then had a championship game at the end of the season. But it sounds like they want to mingle the divisions at some point. I will not watch or go to amy of these games if they merge completely. 22 Teams is ridiculous.

Since: May 11, 2009
Posted on: October 14, 2011 7:57 pm

C-USA and MWC to join forces in football

Without some kind of BCS bid this is a turrible idea, absolutly turrible.

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