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Conference USA is considering adding two extra schools to move to 16, as the mid-major league tries to add revenue. Additional teams could come from the Sun Belt Conference.
The Sun Belt has now lost five schools in the last year.
Let's get inclusive: What if we put every football team in the world in the Football Bowl Subdivision?
Something must be done about this non-problem.
The Sun Belt has revealed new East and West divisions after the addition of Idaho, Georgia Southern, Appalachian State and New Mexico State.
Idaho will indeed join the Sun Belt Conference for football, the second time the Vandals have ended up in a league geographically on the other side of the country.
Will Tulsa's reported move to the Big East set off a chain reaction?
Once hampered by its location and limited revenue share, Boise State can now promise a ESPN payday and a televised game to willing visitors.
With the news that the Sun Belt Conference is expanding beyond our wildest dreams, our wildestest dream is coming true: the Moon Belt Conference is blasting off into Division I.
Georgia Southern and Appalachian State aren't the only schools headed for the southern non-BCS conference. NMSU and Idaho will soon join as football-only members.
SB Nation's Steven Godfrey reports Georgia Southern is leaving FCS for the Sun Belt and confirms the Winston-Salem Journal's report of Appalachian State doing the same, while CBS Sports adds Idaho and New Mexico State.
ESPN will now air every game from Bronco Stadium and partner with CBS on Mountain West football and hoops.
The conference's new division names will be "Mountain" and "West," because let's not get too risky here.
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane could get an invite from the Big East now that the Mountain West has taken the San Diego State Aztecs back.
The Big East West may be no more after San Diego State has decided to stay at home.
Despite the rumors flying around, UTSA officials say they have not been in contact with the Mountain West about a potential move to that league.
San Diego State is reconsidering its decision to join the Big East, and it appears the school would prefer at this point to stay in the Mountain West.
Uncertainty in the Big East already caused Boise State to call off their scheduled 2013 move, and apparently San Diego State is close to doing the same.
The Aztecs were set to leave the conference for the Big East, but further upheaval there has them reconsidering their plans.
As expected by many, Boise State will stay in the Mountain West instead of leaving for the Big East. The conference announced the news shortly after it broke.
If Boise State, BYU and San Diego State head back to the Mountain West, geography's the first winner.
The Vandals were charter members of the conference in 1963 before leaving after the 1995-96 season.
The school would need the state's board of education to sign off on the deal. During an executive session on Wednesday, the board heard Idaho's plan to go independent, and the Vandals' future will be voted upon this Friday in Boise.
"Idaho is the only agenda item and it is a 'request for authorization for independent scheduling of football games and for the President to explore and accept an invitation to the Big Sky Athletic conference.'"
Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton said he would accept Idaho into his conference. The Vandals were among the first team when the Big Sky debuted in 1963, and they played there until 1996.
This all comes after the WAC has all but fizzled to nothing. Five members of the WAC decided to leave the conference following the 2012 football season, and the league has hoped to find the NCAA-minimum of eight members to play football in 2014 or 2015.
With the Utah State Aggies and San Jose St. Spartans joining the long list of teams leaving the WAC, the conference is on very unstable ground. Current members are considering independent status or even dropping down from the FBS level, and conference commissioner Jeff Hurd doesn't expect the conference to play football in 2013.
"We don't believe football is feasible for the 2013 season," Hurd said. "We've gone trhough every option and we've gone coast to coast looking for those options."
The WAC's one chance for football survival is to expand to meet the NCAA's conference requirement of eight teams. To do so, the WAC would likely have to dip into the FCS ranks with James Madison and Jacksonville State the latest reported candidates to fill out the WAC's roster.
If the conference is going to expand and survive beyond 2012, it will need to act quickly. The conference has seven teams and is operating with a two-year waiver from the NCAA. If any of the current members were to leave for independent status, it could mark the end of WAC football for good.
MOUNT USA is dead. Or at least almost dead. The grand idea that was the merger between the Mountain West and Conference USA, thereby creating a single league of two dozen teams, "probably" is not going to happen, MWC commissioner Craig Thompson said during Mountain West Media Days on Wednesday.
It's just too complicated to make it work, Thompson said, and let's just imagine what would've happened if somebody had said the Louisiana Purchase was too complicated. This is America. It probably is really complicated, though. Combine that with the suspended scheduling deal between the Pac-12 and Big Ten, and it's clear everybody got just a little bit carried away with grand ideas during the last phase of realignment fever.
In further sadness, the conference prefers to sit tight at 10 teams for the time being, meaning:
Idaho and New Mexico State have been told they will not be members of the Mountain West. "Go on to Plan B"— Brian Murphy (@murphsturph) July 25, 2012
That Plan B probably won't include the Sun Belt, and the WAC is basically dead, so just about the only option left is to drop down a level. Or try out independence, and it's hard to imagine that would go well.
NBA free agency begins shortly, as does ... the point at which Boise State's transition to the Big East gets even weirder. The Broncos still have yet to officially leave the Mountain West despite swearing they're still Big East-bound, and waiting until Monday could mean a big financial hit:
Question to all those who are saying wait til 11:59 p.m.: What if something goes wrong with e-mail, fax, etc.? Extra $5 million penalty— Brian Murphy (@murphsturph) June 30, 2012
Speculating on the holdup doesn't get us very far, since every step of the way the Broncos have said they're still solid on the move. Probably just waitin' on the Big East to offer up some of those cheeseburgers Boise State likes to rile the NCAA up with, huh!
Though it's certainly on life support, the WAC may not be dead after all. The Sun Belt's reported decision to close its doors and stop accepting new members means the WAC now has an opening to draw schools looking for a new home. Whether it's able to capitalize or make the moves necessary to stay alive, however, is a different question.
According to Karl Benson, former WAC and current Sun Belt commissioner, a quartet of schools are knocking on the WAC's door to explore membership.
Sun Belt commish Karl Benson said Jax St, Ga Southern, Liberty, App St looked into joining Sun Belt and now will explore WAC fb membership— Jeff Caves (@JeffCaves) May 24, 2012
There are still many hurdles for the WAC, despite Benson's comments about four schools taking a look at the conference. Simply put, it needs to replace a large amount of institutions following a mass exodus, and will still come out of this significantly weakened. For Idaho and New Mexico State, though, the WAC may be the only option on the table, and its survival is key to their own futures.
Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson isn't going to try for the whole 16-team thing just yet, as his WAC did in the '90s. He says his league will hold steady at (/counts on fingers and toes) however many teams it's expected to have next year, when newbies Texas State and Georgia State come aboard.
The lineup for the time being: Middle Tennessee, UL-Lafayette, Florida Atlantic, Georgia State, Texas State, Troy, Western Kentucky, Arkansas State, South Alabama and UL-Monroe. That's 10, so no conference championship game just yet.
The Sun Belt has a number of upcoming (or potentially upcoming) FCS programs in its area that could be promising. Both Georgia Southern and Appalachian State have more elite football history than all the recent FCS imports combined. Appy State's more interested in Conference USA, however, and GSU's made no formal indication it wants to move up.
As for the two schools this news hits the hardest:
Benson said he talked with Idaho AD Rob Spear. Haven't talked in last 48 hours. "I wish the best for Idaho and New Mexico State."— Brian Murphy (@murphsturph) May 23, 2012
While we wait for the late-summer conference realignment scramble, let's go ahead and prepare ourselves for the best and the worst.
If we're going to follow conference realignment as if it's a sport, we might as well come up with a scoring system.
The Boise St. Broncos, scheduled to join the Big East in 2013, reportedly had second thoughts about leaving the Mountain West while trying to decide what to do with their non-football sports and seeing multiple Big East schools look for a way out. But with the Big West emerging as a possible repository for football-free sports, the decision has been made to proceed, reports Brett McMurphy:
The Broncos had several recent discussions with MWC reps about staying in the Mountain West, sources told CBSSports.com. Boise State officials wanted to finalize its decision this week, because they didn't want to attend the Big East's meetings, which start Sunday, in Ponte Verda Beach, Fla., if they weren't going to join the league.
Great news for the Big East, which could lose the Louisville Cardinals and Connecticut Huskies right away if realignment goes haywire thanks to moves by the Florida St. Seminoles, Notre Dame Fighting Irish or others.
The demise of the insta-conference CAA continues, with the Old Dominion Monarchs announcing they'll ship their non-football sports to Conference USA beginning in 2013, with football joining in 2015. With Charlotte also coming on several years down the road, CUSA will soon have itself a fine collection of promising, if brand new, football programs. CUSA will have a wide assortment of football programs on board for the time being, having added four others for 2013 already.
(This also means at least three conference realignment moves -- including Navy to the Big East -- aren't set to happen until after next season, meaning conference realignment is going to be with us for a very long time.)
The official release on the matter:
IRVING, Texas - Conference USA has entered into a membership agreement with Old Dominion University beginning in July 2013, Commissioner Britton Banowsky announced today.
"We are extremely pleased to add Old Dominion to Conference USA," Banowsky said. "They are a tremendous university with, not only a great tradition in athletics, but an extremely bright future. Their leadership team has a bold vision for the University, which fits well with our plan for the future of the Conference."
Located in Norfolk, Va., Old Dominion features an enrollment of 24,753 students and sponsors 16 NCAA Division I sports. ODU will join Conference USA for all sports in 2013-14, with the exception of football, which will move up to the Football Bowl Series (FBS) level for conference competition in the 2015 season. The Old Dominion football program has sold out every game since the program was reinstated in 2009. The school is located in the No. 43 media market in the country. (More Info on Old Dominion)
Earlier this month, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte), Florida International University (FIU), Louisiana Tech University, University of North Texas and University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) finalized comprehensive membership agreements to begin competition in Conference USA for 2013 as well. Current C-USA members that will remain in the league in 2013-14 include East Carolina University, Marshall University, Rice University, University of Southern Mississippi, Tulane University, The University of Tulsa, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and University of Texas El Paso (UTEP). The metro area population of these 14 schools is nearly 19 million.
"Our new 14-member model will significantly expand the Conference's market penetration and enable us to continue to stage our championship game," Banowsky added. "Moreover, we will be able to compete in two divisions that are geographically balanced, fan-friendly and sensitive to the needs of our student-athletes."
"The Presidents and Chancellors of Conference USA universities are pleased to include Old Dominion in our future plans," said Dr. Scott Cowen, Tulane University president and Chair of Conference USA's Board of Directors. "They possess all the attributes of a tremendous University and will make a great addition to our Conference. With the six new members in place, we are stable and poised for great things in the future."
Conference USA is getting its 12th member for 2013, after a couple weeks of delay. Old Dominion is set to announce at 2:30 p.m. ET that it is leaving the CAA for CUSA next year, David Teel reports, with the move being announced at its football stadium.
Brett McMurphy reported on May 1 that ODU would be among six members joining CUSA. Five of those -- FIU, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Charlotte and Texas-San Antonio -- announced shortly after, while the Monarchs publicly said they still weren't sure about the move and hadn't had much time to process the whole thing.
Teel reports ODU should be eligible to play for the FCS playoffs in 2012, which wasn't the case for UMass last year. The Monarchs have played north of 100 games of football in their entire history, having only restarted their program in 2009 after decades of dormancy. They are 27-8 since then. This gives them quite the leg up on Charlotte, which has yet to play a single game and is already in a relatively stable FBS conference. Nothing makes sense.
When college football fans realized the sport is soon to get a playoff, many of us began wondering about whether the Boise St. Broncos would rethink their decision to leave the Mountain West for the automatic-qualifying BCS. But the Broncos would still make more TV money in the Big East, and I think most admins knew AQ status was going away anyway.
But since playoff news came out, Boise State beat writers have repeatedly been asked whether the Broncos are reconsidering the move. The latest development was Boise State asking the Big East for help in finding a new home for its non-football sports, which aren't joining the Big East, can't be left in the Mountain West and have no WAC to turn to.
And now this, from Brett McMurphy:
An industry source told CBSSports.com that Mountain West representatives met with Boise State officials earlier this week to persuade the Broncos to remain in the MWC. Adding to that possibility is that the Broncos still haven't formally notified the Mountain West they are withdrawing from the league.
CBSSports.com asked Boise State for a comment about the MWC meeting and why the school had not formally withdrawn from the Mountain West. "We are actively monitoring the changing landscape in college athletics and remain committed to making the best long-term decisions for Boise State," a spokesman said.
With the Louisville Cardinals and Connecticut Huskies pretty much openly looking for a way out of the Big East, along with ancient basketball-football discord, the Big East might not look as stable as its eventual 13-strong membership might suggest.
The hot Sun Belt rumor (all Sun Belt rumors are hot!) from the past week has been the potential additions of FCS titan Appalachian State and WAC stowaway New Mexico State. It started on one or another message board, but grew big enough to earn mention elsewhere.
So it was something of a surprise when ASU athletic director Charlie Cobb issued a letter Tuesday night laying out the Mountaineers' current conference realignment state, mentioning Conference USA as something of a priority over the Sun Belt (Yahoo! Sports' Graham Watson reported State hasn't even been in touch with the Sun Belt).
The letter in full:
Dear Appalachian Family,
In an effort to help with some of last week's conference expansion developments, I want to share some thoughts with you from our perspective.
Potential membership in Conference USA is one of the scenarios that Appalachian has been pursuing since the athletics feasibility committee made their recommendation last August. As you recall, the committee recommended that Appalachian seek membership in a conference that sponsors FBS football and the Board of Trustees approved that recommendation this past September. The committee's mandate was that a new conference must create geographic rivalries and make financial sense for us. Also, while other institutions have the ability to use student fees as the major investment in growing athletics on their campus, our committee made a strong statement that student fees would only be a portion of our athletics funding model.
Feedback that we have received throughout this process has been overwhelmingly positive with regards to our University's and athletics department's infrastructure. Our academic programs are top-notch, our financial base is strong, the data put forth by the athletics feasibility committee is solid and our facilities, fan support and success on the playing fields and courts are unparalleled among our peers.
A hurdle we face is one that is completely out of our control - our campus's distance from a major population center and its potential effect on television revenue. In an effort to diffuse this concern, we have shared that while we are not in the heart of a large TV market, Boone falls in the coverage areas of four top-100 markets that serve over 3 million homes combined (see chart). We also have 103,000 living alumni and 76,000 of them live in the major population centers of North Carolina (see chart). We have shared that the widening of US-321 and US-421 and the ability to charter flights in and out of Hickory and Wilkesboro Regional Airports have made our campus easily accessible by ground and air. We have shared that we have made over $60 million in facility improvements since 2006 and that we would have finished fifth in C-USA and second in the Sun Belt in football attendance last year. I hope it is obvious to all, but the reality is that potential TV revenue dictates much of the movement that we are seeing in college athletics. Conferences that have recently lost programs based in major media markets have looked to replace them with programs located in major media markets.
Conference realignment is not a sprint and remains very fluid. Additional realignment is inevitable and I can assure you that as the carousel continues to spin, we will continue our efforts to explore and pursue options. It is our hope that with this wave of expansion and the reality of actual competition still several years away, conferences will start to look at the core value of geographic rivalries (specifically competitive success, the accessibility and affordability for teams and fans to travel, ticket sales, actual television and internet viewers, regional marketing partnerships and other fan-based revenue streams) as an important component to complete their membership.
While some are disappointed in last week's developments, the primary reason that we are even in this conversation is because our fans have responded in tangible ways by purchasing tickets, attending games and supporting the Yosef Club. Because of you, "The Rock" is one of America's best gameday environments. Because of you, the Charlotte Observer recognized us in 2005 as having the "Carolinas' Best Division I Football Program" and this was before our three-consecutive national championships. Because of you, our football program is second only to Boise State in wins over the past seven years.
While we diligently explore options, we ask you to continue to support your Mountaineers as passionately as you always have. If you can, please make time to support our conference-leading and nationally ranked baseball team over the final month of the regular season or come to Boone later this week when Appalachian softball competes for an NCAA Tournament berth by hosting the Southern Conference Softball Championship. Also, be sure to purchase your season tickets for the fast-approaching football season - kickoff is less than four months away!
Today I give my ALL for Appalachian State,
With Old Dominion reportedly unsure about whether to make the plunge, the Mountaineers could be a very, very viable alternative that would bring C-USA to 12 eventual football schools. Kinda hard to imagine ODU would've been picked ahead of ASU, actually.
The death of the WAC left some schools in limbo, and one of those schools is Idaho. The Vandals have to decide whether to remain an FBS team or move to the FCS Big Sky Conference. Today, Idaho AD Rob Spear spoke and made it seem as if the decision was up in the air.
Spear on the most ideal situation from what's available now "I'm not sure I can tell you what's available now."— Vandal Nation (@VandalNation) May 4, 2012
#IdahoVandals A.D. says communication, emails from supporters has been split on whether Idaho should remain in FBS or go to Big Sky— SWXRightNow (@SWXRightNow) May 4, 2012
Asked if there's a rush to improve facilities in wake of conference news, Rob Spear says, "There should have been a rush 20 years ago."
— Joshua Wright (@SR_JoshWright) May 4, 2012
It's unclear what's going to happen to Idaho, but Vandals fans can't be too thrilled with being abandoned by their conference and having nowhere to go.
That said, Robb Akey has his mind set:
For more on mid-major realignment, stay in this Storystream.
A week's worth of conference realignment rumors have found a stopping point for the time being: Both the Mountain West and Conference USA announced new additions on Friday, with the former bringing out San Jose State and Utah State and the latter picking up Charlotte, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, North Texas and Texas-San Antonio.
All will join their new leagues for the 2013 seasons, but Charlotte won't start playing football at the FBS level until 2015. It had previously been reported at CBS Sports that both Charlotte and Old Dominion would join in football for 2013. ODU, for its part, is saying that it hasn't really had time to make up its mind regarding such a plunge.
As for the hoped-for merger (or whatever we're calling it) between the two conferences, the MWC's statement mentions that the two leagues "synchronized" their additions, with CUSA commissioner Britton Banowsky adding in his own statement: "The discussions with the Mountain West are ongoing. What form the relationship will take is still to be determined, but both remain committed to working together."
Conference USA is expected to introduce five new members on Friday, but a sixth that was supposed to be joining up either isn't making the move or isn't quite ready just yet. Earlier in the week, Brett McMurphy reported Old Dominion would be making a surprise leap to FBS, leaving the CAA for Conference USA. But then, this:
ODU spokesperson says no press conference on Friday & school will not comment further on ODU's future conference plans— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyCBS) May 3, 2012
This follows a couple days worth of slow-your-rollin' from ODU suits, including a note on Thursday that they've barely had time to properly consider the invite. We could be looking at a case where the CUSA made an invite it presumed would be accepted, but the Monarchs just aren't working with the same timetable. This could also explain why it was such a surprise in the first place -- usually, when a school takes the plunge, there's at least a little buzz beforehand. This one came out of nowhere.
This also means Conference USA is about to have a big to-do expanding to 13 teams. Such a perfect number, and one that surely means they aren't already trying to nail down No. 14. No, that's a lie.
It's going to be a thrilling day for fans of press conferences. The Mountain West and Conference USA each has multiple members to welcome, and so far seven are doing the announcing on the same day. Yeah buddy, dudes in ties behind podiums leading conference realignment cheers! Weekend!
Here's what we're staring at. All times ET, all times Friday. Some are officially listed on school websites, while others were reported by Brett McMurphy.
The school has also not had sufficient time to lay out a case, both for and against, to its board of visitors.
Board member Jeffrey W. Ainslie said Wednesday that members had received a letter Tuesday from President John Broderick informing them that an analysis of a possible move from the CAA would be forthcoming. He said he isn't aware of a timetable and that the board has not been asked to consider a specific offer.
Conference USA and the Mountain West are good buddies, whether they'll ever manage to pull off that merger or not. They get along so well that they're both making official conference realignment news on the same day, according to reports. On the C-USA side, there's this, with CBS Sports reporting four others are expected to join Charlotte and Texas-San Antonio:
Charlotte schedules 11:30 a.m. Friday press conference to announce move to Conference USA— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyCBS) May 3, 2012
On the MWC side, both Utah State and San Jose State beat writers are reporting Friday announcements as well. All told, eight teams should be revealed in new places on Friday, if all reports are accurate. Current FCS program Old Dominion is saying it's not quite as sold on Conference USA as has been reported, but we'll just see about that very shortly.
For a recap on all things conference realignment, check this handy cheat sheet right here.
Which college teams are in which conferences now, and where will they be next year? Not only do we have all 11 conferences in list form, we've got some projections for the future.
The WAC may have been raided by the Mountain West yet again, Conference USA yet again and even the distant Sun Belt, but at least it's got a pair of schools left it can use to try and coerce some FCS programs into moving up. Yes sir, Idaho and New Mexico State. It's not mu- oh. Oh, dear.
Source: New Mexico State a potential target of expanding Sun Belt with quality bball and baseball programs— Jon Wilner (@wilnerhotline) May 2, 2012
NMSU was a member of the Sun Belt until 2005, when it and Idaho both left to join the WAC. New Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson was the WAC commissioner from 1994 through 2011, meaning he could twice coax New Mexico State to join his conference, if the reported interest becomes an offer. And if there's an offer, the Aggies would fall over themselves to accept it.
Tuesday night, NMSU president Barbara Couture and AD McKinley Boston issued the following letter:
Much discussion is taking place in the news about possible shifts that may occur among the WAC football playing schools. Some believe New Mexico State University and the University of Idaho are likely to end up on the outside looking in at the end of this process.
We both felt the need to address this issue with our fans, students, alumni and broader university community.
The changes in conference alignments that began several years ago and continue today are unprecedented in college sports. This is truly a new day when the sports, primarily football, are ruled by the potential for TV coverage. We all understand that. Now we are beginning to better comprehend just how far-reaching this new reality can be. Of course, New Mexico State University has no major media market to bring to the table. Without that market our "value" as a conference member appears to be less than other schools with less successful programs but that are located in areas with a greater population. The same thing appears to be the case for the University of Idaho.
We want to assure the community that we will continue to take any and all measures we feel might assist us in reaching a successful solution to this current challenge.
We take great pride in our student-athletes and their successes on and off the court. Our student-athletes are among our best and brightest students. They graduate at a higher rate with higher grade point averages than the student body as a whole. They also achieve success on the field. We are proud that we stand near the top of the WAC Commissioners Cup with the possibility of capturing it as the most overall successful athletic program among current WAC schools.
We continue to explore all options and ask our university community of alumni, supporters and students to stand united with us as we seek solutions.
Make no mistake, we will be playing football next year and we will be competing in a revised WAC conference for the 2012-2013 school year. Our near-term goals are to compete successfully. We look forward to having you there with us as we show the rest of the world what makes NMSU an excellent athletic-and academic-institution.
The Texas State Bobcats, who've yet to play a FBS football game, are already set to join their third conference in three years. Since jumping from the Southland for the WAC, the WAC has begun disintegrating, making a move to the Sun Belt mighty attractive, and the Sun Belt it is. The SBC is also bringing on Georgia State and non-football member Texas-Arlington.
The Sun Belt is losing North Texas and Florida International to Conference USA, which is itself making up for schools taken by the Big East, which had to go national after being eaten by the ACC and Big 12, which lost teams to the Big Ten and Pac-12. It's all connected, maaan.
The Sun Belt's statement on Texas State:
"Texas State University has worked very hard to be ready for FBS competition and joining the Sun Belt Conference represents a new opportunity for our future," said Texas State University President Denise M. Trauth. "The Sun Belt's record of competitive success over more than 35 years provides a tradition of excellence that we are happy to join. Our students and alumni will bring a very strong fan base that will welcome these new opportunities. Just as Texas State is the rising star of Texas, we believe that the Sun Belt is also on the rise and we are happy to be a part of its future."
"On behalf of the presidents and chancellors of the Sun Belt Conference, it is my honor to welcome Texas State University as the newest member of our league family," said Sun Belt Conference Executive Committee President and Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Jr. "We are not the same conference we were 10 years ago. The Sun Belt is strong athletically as demonstrated by the fact that our bowl record over the last eight years is better than five other BCS conferences. We are stronger academically, as 90 percent of our teams have achieved an Academic Progress Rates of 925 or higher. Texas State is an excellent addition to our strong, growing conference."
Texas State, located in San Marcos between Austin and San Antonio, is home to over 34,000 students and officially opened its doors in 1903. Notably, Texas State is the only university in Texas to have graduated a U.S. president: Lyndon B. Johnson, class of 1930.
The Texas State athletics program currently consists of 16 varsity programs including the football team coached by Dennis Franchione. The Bobcats will begin their first season at the Football Bowl Subdivision level in 2012 and will be eligible to compete for football conference champions and bowl games when they join the Sun Belt in 2013.
"Texas State is a great addition to the Sun Belt Conference as the Bobcat athletic program is destined for success in the Football Bowl Subdivision," said Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson. "The Sun Belt Conference's rise to prominence will continue with Texas State as part of our league."
"We are very excited about becoming a member of the Sun Belt Conference in 2013," said Texas State Director of Athletics Dr. Larry Teis. "We know that our student-athletes will be eager to succeed in the Sun Belt, and we will enter the conference ready to compete. We look forward to building new rivalries with some Sun Belt schools and renewing rivalries with others. The Sun Belt Conference encompasses eight states from Texas to Florida that are rich in college athletic traditions, especially in the sport of FBS football."
Texas State's budget for athletics ranks in the upper half of the current Sun Belt Conference membership, and its undergraduate enrollment ranks near the top of the league's current membership.
The Mountain West and Conference USA were supposed to merge into the world's most ridiculous athletic consortium (besides FIFA), but now appear set on each swelling to the size of a superconference. That way, when they do eventually pair up, they'll have crossed into hyperconference territory. The future is exciting.
With each set to announce multiple additions, according to reports, it's also noteworthy that they could introduce new guys on the same day. Brett McMurphy cited Friday as a possible announcement date in his report on C-USA's new six pack, and then there's this on the MWC:
That news was expected. Utah State will reportedly join SJSU in the Mountain West, leaving the WAC with just two 2012 members who aren't believed to be heading elsewhere. Sorrow reigns.
The WAC is on its last legs as a FBS conference. One of those legs is named Idaho, and the other is named New Mexico State. It is about to have no other legs, according to various reports. However, keep your head up, as the conference has issued a reassuring statement on the matter:
The Western Athletic Conference Board of Directors is well aware of the changing landscape in Division I athletics and has been in discussion about it for the last several weeks.
Further, it continues to evaluate the impact upon the WAC and is closely engaged in evaluating its membership options. It will not speculate relative to those options, but it has confidence that the WAC will maintain its more than 50-year history as a preeminent Division I conference.
Division I doesn't necessitate Division I-A, of course. The conference can survive, but it's hard to imagine how it can do so without dropping down a level.
Likewise, the Vandals issued a statement late Tuesday, in which the Spokane media market is touted. Everything about all of this just bums one out.
Conference realignment has been a major story in college athletics for several years now. A growing appetite for more funding and a steady flow of television and other media dollars feeding that appetite has resulted in conference alignments and realignments. That uncertainty continues today.
Over the past several weeks, President Nellis and director of athletics Rob Spear have worked actively to advocate for the University during this recent shift in conference realignment. We are disappointed in the recent changes that are driven not by tradition, academic quality, competitiveness, or the student experience, but by money.
Our student-athletes continue high rates of success on and off the field. The Vandals currently are atop the Western Athletic Conference Commissioner's Cup standings and have been rewarded often for their academic successes.
We believe our strong presence in the Northwest media markets is being overlooked during this crucial evaluation period. We are a presence in both the Spokane and Boise media markets, which extends our reach throughout the entire Inland Northwest.
As we anticipate future conference movement, we continue to believe strongly that athletes are students first and the experience for them and our fans is first and foremost. We will continue to work diligently to most strongly position the University of Idaho.
It's been more than a decade since a conference has left college football's highest level, but the once-blooming WAC looks like the next to disappear.
As expected, Conference USA is about to shore up its Big East losses with a round of pickups from smaller conferences. But, wow, take a look at the list Brett McMurphy reports is about to be officially announced: Charlotte, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Old Dominion and Texas-San Antonio. They'd break down as follows, says McMurphy:
When completed, Conference USA's new 14-team league is expected to be split into two divisions: East - East Carolina, FIU, Marshall, Southern Miss, UAB, Charlotte and ODU; West - Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Texas San Antonio, Tulane, Tulsa and UTEP.
UTSA has yet to actually compete in the WAC, but will have already found an escape route from the flailing conference. The big surprise here is ODU, which hasn't exactly been the subject of widespread rumors of a FBS leap. There'd been talk of Charlotte being eyed by C-USA and the Sun Belt alike, so we were a little more prepared for that.
Old Dominion currently plays in the CAA, which is also losing Georgia State to the Sun Belt as well as reportedly suffering some basketball losses to the A-10.
When last we assessed the standing of the WAC (we did this YESTERDAY), the conference was down to something like three football-playing teams for 2013. That was before Brett McMurphy reported Texas State will head to the Sun Belt in 2013, leaving poor Idaho and New Mexico State as the last remnants of the once-proud 16-team conference that fielded a national champion in 1984.
Texas State would shore up the Sun Belt's Texas losses, as the SBC is set to lose North Texas to Conference USA, perhaps as early as this week, according to the Dallas Morning News' Brett Vito. The Bobcats have yet to even play a game in the WAC, playing their first season of FBS football later this year, and they're already leaving.
Elsewhere, San Jose State and Utah State have confirmed they are indeed in talks to leave the WAC for the Mountain West. The exit of those two schools may be remembered as the true finishing blow of the WAC.
Just when you thought college football's conference expansion was over for good, it reels you back in with pressing news about Utah State! The Aggies and San Jose State will reportedly make a break from the WAC and head to the Mountain West, according to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune.
Jones reports that "multiple sources" say both Utah State and San Jose State will be moving from the WAC to the Mountain West for the 2013 season, and that an announcement could be made in the next week to 10 days.
The departure of the Aggies and Spartans would leave the WAC in truly dire straits. Currently, there are just eight members of the conference with football teams, including Utah State and San Jose State. Also Louisana Tech, the conference's geographic outlier, may be Conference USA-bound. That would leave the WAC with just five football teams, and likely be a prelude to dissolution as a football conference.
With Utah State and San Jose State, the Mountain West would have 10 teams in the 2013 season.
For more on the Mountain West, head to Mountain West Connection.
The University of Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners are preparing to join Conference USA. The university's board of regents officially granted permission allowing the school to seek admittance into other athletic conferences, and accept an invitation from C-USA when it comes. The board of regents is expected to hold a press conference later this week, and has already released a statement:
"The Chancellor concurs in the recommendation of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs ad interim, the Vice Chancellor and General Counsel, and President Romo that authorization be granted to The University of Texas at San Antonio to accept an invitation from Conference USA (CUSA) to become a member, and to negotiate and finalize terms for athletic conference membership. Approval of U. T. San Antonio's entrance in CUSA also includes approval of admittance to the potential new conference."
Three more teams are expected to join the conference, as well. C-USA is looking to add North Texas, Florida International and Louisiana Tech, pending administrative holdups. Those moves would again give the conference 12 schools, taking a C-USA-Mountain West merger off the table.
No matter what happens to the Mountain West as it attempts or doesn't attempt or whatever to merge with Conference USA, at least the Big East has fought off the threat of collapse. Since adding Boise State and a host of schools from around the continent, the Big East at least has sufficient numbers to stay alive as a mid-tier football conference. But what's this?
Source: San Diego State talking to MWC about reserving spot in revamped league in case Big East doesn't work out.— Jon Wilner (@wilnerhotline) April 23, 2012
That's not good. The Aztecs haven't even joined the Big East yet, and the MWC is among the least-stable habitats in all of college sports right now. It's nice to have options, I guess.
SDSU, Boise State, Navy, Central Florida, SMU, Houston and Memphis are set to join the Big East over the next few years, bringing the conference up to 12 football teams along the way.
East Carolina chancellor Steve Ballard gave the school's State of the University address Tuesday, during which he commented on the coming joint venture between the Mountain West and Conference USA. Ballard described the new conference as having four divisions, with ECU hopefully picking up Charlotte as a local rival.
Charlotte has reportedly been invited. A four-division arrangement could mean anywhere from four to six teams in each group, which could all set up a semifinal round within the conference or whatever it is.
As you know, we are working on the possibility of a new athletic conference, which at some point would merge the old Conference USA with the Mt. West conference. This merger touches some raw nerves in the Pirate Nation because, quite frankly, we have never received the national respect that we have earned on the playing fields. But we should all remember this: Bad decisions made externally only means that there are bad decision-makers out there.
Unfortunately, the way athletic conferences choose new members is no longer a rational process. As one commissioner said to me, "We no longer have athletic conferences, we only have TV partnerships." Because of the overwhelming influence that large TV contracts now have on college sports, ECU does not control and indeed can barely influence the factors that dictate conference alignment. As the author Meg Wheately said, "IN THIS ENVIRONMENT, IF YOU'RE NOT CONFUSED, YOU'RE NOT THINKING CLEARLY."
So here is where we stand in terms of a new conference.
First, if this merger is successful, it could be stronger than the old CUSA and it will probably be more stable.
Second, members of the new conference recognize the importance of regional rivalries; they are committed to adding more teams with the goal of ensuring 4 divisions of geographical proximity. We look forward to playing long-time rivals such as Marshall and Southern Miss and to adding several eastern universities to our schedule. Hopefully, one will be Charlotte.
Partly based on a desire to play FBS football, Georgia State has announced that it is leaving the Colonial Athletic Association to join the Sun Belt Conference.
Georgia State football, all of two years old, will make the leap to the highest level, according to Brett McMurphy. The Sun Belt, which has been talking up adding two more teams, reportedly has voted in the Panthers and will extend an official invite soon.
Sun Belt votes to add Georgia State, invite may come this week sources tell @CBSSports— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyCBS) April 3, 2012
The state of Georgia would then finally have a third FBS team after spending many a decade surrounded by states with FBS schools aplenty. The Panthers are coached by former Alabama boss Bill Curry and play their games in the Georgia Dome. They were scheduled to begin their CAA football life this season, and we'll assume for the time being that it will end up being their last.
Though they haven't had success yet on the field, the Panthers offer one of those fancy media markets that conference honchos are into, and with their recruiting resources (they play in the home of the SEC Championship Game, I mention again) it's not hard to imagine they would've outgrown CAA football if they'd stuck around for a whole decade or what have you.
The Georgia State Panthers, brand-new football school, have long planned on making a move to FBS as soon as possible, or so the buzz around Atlanta goes. The school recently approved a feasibility study regarding a jump to the top level, and you know how often feasibility studies come back negative.
With the Sun Belt openly talking expansion and Conference USA likely needing bodies to replace its roster, Georgia State has a good chance of getting an invite at some point. Brett McMurphy and Tony Barnhart report an invite could come soon, with 2013 entry on the table and informal discussions already taking place.
Georgia State fans have been confident for quite some time that such a move will take place soon, with their only real worry being that they'll somehow miss and end up stuck in FCS until the next cycle. They have the facilities (they play in the Georgia Dome) and the location, and as we've seen with South Florida and others, it's possible for new teams to surge through the ranks.
They currently play hoops and such in the CAA, with football set to join next season. Could be a one-and-done, of course.
As any current college sports fan knows, there seems to be no end to teams swapping conferences or other news regarding "conference realignment." In recent months, there have been reports that the planned merger between the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA has run into some problems, but representatives from both conferences stress that the plans are still in motion.
Frank Schwab of The Gazette reports that both the MWC and C-USA have stated that the two entities are working on a union of some form, regardless of whether it may result in one consolidated conference.
Both sides stressed all institutions are still on board with the association. Through a conference spokesman, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said any suggestions the schools aren't working together are "simply wrong."
Representatives insist that all options are still on the table, including the formation of a new, unified conference.
For all news and information regarding the Mountain West Conference, please visit Mountain West Connection. For complete coverage of all things college football, head over to Every Day Should Be Saturday or stay tuned to SB Nation's dedicated NCAA football hub.
The Mountain West, for the time being, should not be considered just one half of the future MOUNT USA. As has been chronicled by Jon Wilner here and Brett McMurphy here, the MWC and Conference USA are no longer looking to make a whole new conference and are instead back to working on an alliance of sorts. The reason is money. The reason is always money.
This means MWC expansion is a thing, and Wilner reports the Utah St. Aggies and San Jose St. Spartans could be the leading candidates, with the league commish visiting both schools as of late. Pretty much no matter what happens, the WAC is sustaining another mighty blow and could soon put the NCAA in the tough spot of having to enforce FBS eligibility rules en masse.
McMurphy reports that if the two do end up making one new conference, it's likely to happen by early June.
For more on the Mountain West, visit Mountain West Connection.
Butler, VCU and George Mason are reportedly eyeing the Atlantic 10 and have had discussions about joining the conference.
Florida Atlantic will not be a part of the MWC/CUSA mega-conference and will instead remain in the Sun Belt, the school's president announced Friday. The Owls were reportedly prepared to fly to the mega-merger, but were left out in the cold when an invitation to join the party never came. As a result, the Sun Belt -- also rumored to be expanding -- will continue to be home sweet home for FAU.
From Owl Access:
"I can tell you we have not been invited to another conference," Saunders said. "I think those decisions have already been made. I think it's finished now. ...We're staying in the Sun Belt."
MOUNT USA, as the new mega-merger-thing is affectionately known, has been whittling down a large list of schools that reportedly inquired about membership. In addition to FAU, the entire WAC and a few other schools perked up upon hearing about the new yet-to-be-named conference and its plans to encompass 18-to-24 teams.
With FAU out, and staying in the Sun Belt, it could signal a decision on the conference's makeup is coming, or it could just mean the Owls didn't make it out of the first round of cuts.
What we know regarding mid-major conference realignment: The Mountain West and Conference USA are partnering up, the Sun Belt is looking to expand while warding off MOUNT USA, and the WAC is better left unmentioned, out of respect for the nearly deceased.
On Tuesday, the indispensable Jon Wilner of the Mercury News dropped off a whole shed full of knowledge bombs regarding what comes next for the four relevant conferences.
Confirming parts of earlier reports, Wilner says Fla. International, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, San Jose St., Texas-San Antonio and Utah State are up for MOUNT USA consideration. As for what happens to the hypothetically gutted Sun Belt and WAC, Wilner cites the possibility of the two conferences merging. Charlotte has a Sun Belt invite, he also reports.
Whew! There's actually more stuff there, as well. You should probably follow Mr. Wilner.
MOUNT USA hopes to expand from 16 teams to something like 24 teams. If they add anything short of eight schools, there will be loud scorn and derision. If they come up with a name that isn't MOUNT USA, there will be the same.
While the Mountain West and Conference USA are building something great and terrible all across the globe, the WAC and Sun Belt have to come up with a way to survive the great mid-major consolidation of our time. The WAC looks likely to be devoured by MOUNT USA and left for scraps, while the Sun Belt should survive and could even end up growing.
Speaking of growing, Brett McMurphy reports that Texas-San Antonio and Charlotte could join the Sun Belt. Charlotte has also reportedly put in for WAC membership, while UT-SA is set to begin its first FBS season as a member of the WAC. So there's your sign of the times as to which bottom-rung conference at least has both its hands on the ladder. That's a metaphor.
The Sun Belt wants to expand to 12 football teams when the dust clears. It currently has 10, counting South Alabama, which joins this year-ish. However, at least three schools could leave for MOUNT USA, again according to McMurphy.
Lost in all of this college realignment is that there are universities who value their basketball programs. Almost all of the conference shuffling that has occurred in recent times has been about football and nothing but football, but there's one school that doesn't even have a Division I football program interested in making moves. That school is Butler.
According to Andy Katz at ESPN, the Butler Bulldogs are interested in replacing the Temple Owls in the Atlantic 10. Temple recently confirmed that they are leaving the MAC, where they compete in football, and the Atlantic 10, where they compete in everything else, to join the Big East Transcontinental Conference.
Butler has made 11 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, 10 of which while a member of their current conference, the Horizon League. They're interested in a step up in competition, which makes sense considering that they're the back-to-back Division I men's basketball runners-up.
If you're wondering, Butler does have a football program. They compete in the Pioneer Football League, they play in FCS, and they don't offer scholarships.
For the Mountain West and Conference USA to get their eventual 24-team* Frankenstein conference up and running, they'll probably have to heavily raid the WAC and Sun Belt. From the sounds of things, certain WAC and Sun Belt teams wouldn't mind being raided all that much.
Brett McMurphy reports the entire WAC, plus the Sun Belt's Florida Atlantic, Florida International and North Texas and the Atlantic 10's super-cheeky Charlotte, have been in some sort of talks with the conglomerate about possible membership.
The megalith currently has 16 teams lined up, which would obviously leave a few of those schools out unless, say, the Big East came pluckin'. Hitting Florida, Texas and California hard would make sense for the item we're calling MOUNT USA until somebody tells us not to, and it's hard not to keep feeling bad for Idaho's prospects.
Those other WAC teams are Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Texas State, Texas-San Antonio and Utah State. USU was among the first to reportedly draw interest, while UT-SA has a big, shiny media market to offer, the sort of thing conference commissioners go wild over.
* Yes, it's technically an 18-to-24-team vision, but how dare you dream anything but big?
The conference realignment train has cooled for the time being, now that Temple's made its way back to the Big East. Let's take a look at what a fine mess we've all gotten ourselves into.
The Temple Owls will leave the MAC and Atlantic 10 for the Big East, joining in 2012 in football and in 2013 in other sports. The Big East has set a 5:30 p.m. ET presser to announce the move, but the MAC's gone ahead and done the announcing for them.
In a statement, the spurned football conference best known for making Tuesday nights the finest of the week revealed Temple's $6 million buyout and its new division alignment (which still has a tidy 13 teams, since UMass is coming up from FCS). That's a much larger buyout than the MAC was reportedly going to get from Temple, so maybe everybody's happy here?
The Mid-American Conference (MAC) announced today in conjunction with Temple University that the two parties have reached an agreement for Temple to leave the Conference immediately. Temple spent five seasons (2007-11) with the Conference.
Statement from MAC Commissioner, Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher regarding Temple:
"Temple University requested to be released from its obligation, as a football-only member of providing two season's prior notice before departing the Mid-American Conference. As a result the Conference and its member institutions engaged in a dialogue with Temple regarding an appropriate resolution. We have come to an agreement that is fair to the parties involved."
"As a result, the Mid-American Conference has adjusted its football divisional alignment. Bowling Green State University will compete in the East Division that will consist of seven member institutions. The West Division will have six members. The eight-game Conference schedule should be released within several weeks."
-The negotiated exit fee for Temple to leave the Mid-American Conference is $6 million.
-2012 MAC Football Divisional Alignment
East Division: Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State, UMass, Miami, Ohio
West Division: Ball State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo, Western Michigan.
The Big East has scheduled a press conference for noon. It's probably not about Peyton Manning or the New Orleans Saints. It's probably also not about announcing the start of the Big East Tournament. What oh what could it be about? Let's ask the Houston Cougars, soon-to-be Big East members:
Big East adds another school today...final member! Announcement at noon.— Renu Khator (@UHpres) March 7, 2012
That's either the Miami Marlins or the Temple Owls, and, thanks to CBS Sports' Brett McMurphy, we're pretty sure it's Temple. Owls football will indeed join the Big East for 2012, but McMurphy reports other sports won't join until 2013. There's a bit of a scheduling rush that makes Temple football quite valuable to the league immediately, since the West Virginia Mountaineers left a schedule gap when they left for the Big 12. The same vacancy doesn't exist in basketball, as the Big East will have approximately all of the basketball teams.
For more on Temple football, visit SB Nation Philly.
We've been reading for almost a year that the Temple Owls are going to return to the Big East in 2012. Even though it looked like realignment had died down for the time being, reports flared up again over the past week that we are still living in Temple-realignmenty times. The MAC side of things appears to think it'll happen any minute now.
And according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, things are indeed in rapid motion:
Multiple sources, Big East presidents began meeting at 8 am, voting on adding #Temple football in 2012 and all other sports in 2013— Keith Pompey (@pompeysgridlock) March 7, 2012
Temple was a member of the Big East until 2004, when it was booted for its unpopular football program. In the MAC, that program has become slightly more popular, but everything in the MAC is an utter joy to behold, so of course it has.
For more on Temple football, visit SB Nation Philly.
The Temple Owls will return to the Big East any day now. You know that, I know that, and once school officials started denying it, we all knew it. The MAC side has confirmed Temple's interest, and about the only thing left to do is watch the Owls fly (owl term) back to their old nest.
It should absolutely, definitely happen any day now, a MAC source tells the Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey. According to the report, the MAC was working on buyout details over the weekend. Temple is supposed to be joining the Big East in time to replace West Virginia on the 2012 football schedule.
Speaking of buyouts, Temple is expected to owe $2.5 million to the MAC for moving its football program and $2 million to the Atlantic 10 for moving everything else.
For more on Temple football, visit SB Nation Philly.
Reports surfaced this week that Temple was planning to accept an invitation to join the Big East, with a potential announcement coming as soon as Wednesday. Those plans were put on hold for further discussions among the school's Board of Trustees and on Saturday, the chairman, Patrick J. O'Connor, denied previous reports that an agreement had been reached to move all of Temple's athletics program to the Big East by the 2012-2013 seasons.
"There is no verbal commitment, no written commitment and no oral commitment," Patrick J. O'Connor, chairman of Temple's board of trustees, told csnphilly.com. "We are still evaluating. That is a fact."
The Big East presidents will meet in New York this week during the men's basketball tournament, where Temple is sure to be a subject of discussion. There's still no timetable or projection for when an official announcement will be made.
Steady inhabitants of the bottom of the standings, the Owls were kicked out of the Big East in 2004. The program has since turned around in the MAC and joining the Big East would fill the void created by West Virginia's departure to the Big 12.
The Temple Owls have been telling recruits for almost a year that they're going to soon make a return to the Big East. So now that it's time to go ahead and take the leap, Temple officials are going to have a meeting to talk about whether the school should actually make a return to the Big East. CSNPhilly.com reports:
Temple University's Board of Trustees will meet via conference call Wednesday afternoon to discuss the fate of the school's athletic program and perhaps accept an invitation to become a member of the Big East Conference in all sports.
Temple was a member of the Big East until 2004, when it was shooed away due to its football program. Since then, it has put together a real, live MAC powerhouse. If Temple was to rejoin, it would be for all sports and for the 2012-2013 seasons, which would patch the hole in the Big East's schedule left by the departure of the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Temple could return to the Big East in just a few months, according to reports.
Despite considering the move from a financial and timing perspective, Boise State has decided not to leave the Mountain West Conference a year early and join the Big East in 2012, the school announced Wednesday afternoon.
Boise State President Dr. Bob Kustra released a statement announcing the school's plan.
"While we have had several discussions with the Big East and the WAC in moving our sports into those two leagues a year earlier than previously stated, the University feels there were too many obstacles to overcome to make the move at this time. While there certainly would have been advantages in making the move a year early, it became clear that it would not be fiscally responsible, as all of the expenses associated with early entry into the two conferences would not be covered."
According to Brett McMurphy, an early move would have cost the school between $7M-$9M in penalties to the Mountain West and $1.5M to the WAC, where all of Boise's non-football sports are played currently.
The official announcement coincides with the news that the Temple Owls are close to joining the Big East as a full member in 2012. If the Owls do come aboard, an early move doesn't make sense for the Broncos at all.
The Temple Owls have been talking up a return to the Big East for almost a year now, and according to multiple reports, they might just about be set to make it in. CBS Sports' Brett McMurphy reports Temple is likely to replace the West Virginia Mountaineers in all sports in 2012. The 2012-2013 athletic year begins in just a few months, and we're really cutting it close this time around.
It would also eliminate the need for the Boise St. Broncos to hurry up and make a move without having a good place to stow their non-football teams. Boise had been looking at a return to the WAC with their other sports, but the WAC might not exist beyond any particular day of the week.
The Big East would have 13 eventual football members if Temple joined on and nobody left, but this does raise speculation that the Louisville Cardinals could be headed to the Big 12.
The Big East will have 11 football teams in 2013, assuming nothing else goes completely sideways and the Louisville Cardinals don't leave for the Big 12. This much we know. The Navy Midshipmen are also scheduled to port in 2015, bringing the league to a tidy 12. Boise State could join early, Syracuse could try and leave early, and various other adjustments could occur, but 12 teams seems to be on pace.
And then Pete Thamel reports the Temple Owls could return to the Big East in all sports, which would put the conference in line for 13 football schools. Which means it would pretty much need 14, unless if Louisville leaves. This will never end!
It also confirms chatter from last summer by a number of recruits that Temple was promising a conference call-up.
The Owls have been invited to join the internet-dubbed Mount USA conglomerate as well. Temple was a former member of the Big East until 2004, when it was booted due to poor football attendance. Since toiling in the MAC, Temple's put together two of its all-time four bowl trips and a pair of nine-win seasons. Also, everyone in Philadelphia is madly in love with college football all of a sudden < --- this is a lie.
The Boise St. Broncos are scheduled to join the Big East in 2013, but haven't ruled out joining in 2012. The Broncos have reportedly been in touch with the WAC about stowing their non-football sports there for 2012 if need be, and the conference reportedly has been pressuring BSU to join early to offset the loss of the West Virginia Mountaineers.
"Before we make any move, we need to make sure we cover all our expenses," [athletic director Mark] Coyle said. "If a transition takes place now, there are expenses we need to cover before we make a move."
It would cost Boise State between $7.5 million and $9 million to leave the Mountain West this fall. The Broncos could owe the Western Athletic Conference - where their other spots programs are headed - additional money as well for joining that league a year early.
Could we end up seeing, in a roundabout fashion, the Big 12's reported payment for West Virginia end up going to the Mountain West?
Over the next year or so, almost every college or university with a Division I-FBS football program that is not married to their current situation is going to be linked to the new MWC-CUSA megaconference. Conference-USA and the Mountain West announced their merger on Monday, making one conference with 16 schools. Before they're done moving things around, they will have somewhere between 18 and 24 members. The latest schools to get linked to the megaconference are Temple and San Jose State.
New Mexico State, Utah State, Louisiana Tech and Florida international have been mentioned as previous candidates for a move (here and here), and now a report from the Salt Lake Tribune is mentioning San Jose State and Temple as possible candidates for a move. Though that list includes a couple of WAC names, the only real thing that this list of schools has in common is that they're not with one of the major conferences at the moment.
A nationwide college football conference with 24 teams, four divisions, and a semifinals round? How could it be? Here's how it could be. Also: Projecting Mount USA's division winners.
The conference tentatively known as Mount USA has a whole lot of building to do, so let's get to it. Also: Building a 24-team, four-division conference schedule using progressive scheduling.
For years, one of the easiest jokes in college football has involved pointing out the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs play in the Western Athletic Conference and are annual rivals with Hawai'i and Idaho. So when it was announced that the Mountain West Conference and Conference-USA will dissolve and start up a new conference, featuring a couple of teams who were set to leave the WAC anyway, the mind immediately discovered a plan to free La Tech from its rigorous travel schedule.
The mind of Bulldogs athletic director Bruce Van De Velde is one step ahead:
"We are very excited about the opportunity that may exist with the creation of the new athletic conference," Van De Velde said. "There are so many advantages to this type of association as it relates to emphasizing traditional rivalries and ease of travel for fans and teams which is tremendous for television."
La Tech would add an up-and-coming (conference champs!) football program to the conference, plus provide an easy local rival for the several Texas-esque programs and a state rival for Tulane.
Two conferences that have been gutted by BCS conference realignment and expansion, the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA, are merging and they may be adding teams from even less promising conferences, continuing an endless progression that will likely lead to Yale's inclusion in the WAC.
The big news came down earlier Monday that the two conferences will be merging, and hoping to expand to form an 18-24 team legion of teams that will play a semifinal before a conference football championship game, which sounds pretty awesome. The schools the new conference may have its eye on are truly coast to coast, according to UTEP President Diana Natalicio (from UTEP student paper, The Prospector):
Natalicio said the additional schools to comprise the 18-24-team conference have not been discussed but she said that Utah State (currently in the WAC) and Florida International (Sun Belt) have been discussed. UTEP Athletic Director also said that New Mexico State (WAC) is also on their list of possible candidates.
Nothing has been made official regarding the new teams, but a university president dropping their names has to make you feel like this isn't the first Utah State, FIU and NMSU have heard about this.
After months of news about one potential merger or "alliance" or another, the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA have made ... something official, issuing a joint release on starting up a new conference for 2013, as reported moments before by soothsayer Brett McMurphy.
The release hopes for membership of "18 to 24 universities" and a football championship game that includes a semifinals round (ooh!). Current members of the C-USA and MWC are listed as all-sports members moving forward, with the exception of Hawai'i, which will join in football only. That leaves the conference needing like a whole 'nother conference in order to get up to its number, which could mean bringing up multiple schools from the FCS ranks.
Presidents and chancellors from 16 universities met in Dallas Sunday to discuss future conference membership plans and agreed to work on forming a new intercollegiate athletic association that would begin competition in the 2013-14 academic year.
led association will ensure stability and be built upon the principles of operating at the highest level of integrity and sportsmanship, enhancing the student-athlete academic and competitive experience, bringing fiscal discipline into athletics and ensuring competitive fairness.
"This is an exciting development that will stabilize the current conferences and create the first truly national conference with members in five time zones and television viewership from coast to coast. This partnership brings together like-minded institutions to improve the integrity and stability of intercollegiate athletics," said UNLV President Neal Smatresk. "We are moving our plans forward rapidly and expect to complete our conversations in the near future. Look for further announcements soon as we work together on this exciting new venture."
Universities involved in the discussions were the United States Air Force Academy, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Colorado State University, East Carolina University, Fresno State, University of Hawai'i, Marshall University, University of Nevada, Reno, University of New Mexico, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Rice University, University of Southern Mississippi, University of Texas at El Paso, Tulane University, The University of Tulsa and University of Wyoming. With the exception of Hawai'i as a football-only member, the participation would involve all sports.
The structure of the new conference will likely include:
• Membership of 18 to 24 universities
• National scope from the Atlantic Seaboard to Hawaii
• Championship football game format that includes semifinal match-ups
• Championship basketball tournament
• Regular season scheduling in divisions
For more on the MWC, visit Mountain West blog Mountain West Connection.
Conference realignment's outcasts will pool their resources in 2013 and start a new conference, CBS Sports' Brett McMurphy reports. Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference agreed months ago to start a new, massive football-only alliance, but further attrition has them whittled down to the point where they could form one bigger all-sports league, which could boast 16 teams in football.
If everything remained as-is, the new conference would consist of Air Force, Colorado State, East Carolina, Fresno State, Hawai'i, Marshall, Nevada, New Mexico, Rice, Southern Miss, Tulane, Tulsa, UAB, UNLV, UTEP, and Wyoming. McMurphy also reports Temple could be in the mix.
Really not all that bad of a conference, all things considered. At least two or three of those teams are usually good at football at one time or another, and, if nothing else, there are plenty of wide open spaces for traveling teams to enjoy while on game trips.
For more on the MWC, visit Mountain West blog Mountain West Connection.
Remember that thing about the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA forming a 22-team football alliance? Nobody really understood it, but it was kind of horrifying and kind of awesome. It was also apparently not quite enough, as CBS Sports reports the two leagues could simply "dissolve" and become one complete conference.
Depending on who else gets poached, the conference could have 17 teams in five time zones. (That 22-team figure came before the Big East picked off a few from each side.) Very few of those teams would excite anybody outside of the conference's geographical base, but that's the good news! The conference's geographical base is absolutely everywhere! Just being positive.
Desperate times, and at least neither of these conferences is stuck being the WAC. Not a week goes by that you don't feel bad for the WAC at some point, right?
For more on the MWC, visit Mountain West blog Mountain West Connection.
The Boise St. Broncos, along with various small programs in big markets around the country, are scheduled to join the Big East for football in 2013. And the Air Force Falcons have long been considering signing on along with the newly joined Navy Midshipmen. Jon Wilner reports the Big East would like to speed those things along, now that the Big 12 has put the West Virginia Mountaineers on its yet-to-be-released 2012 football schedule.
@wilnerhotline Source: Boise State under pressure from Big East to join in '12 to offset WVU departure. AF likely to join Navy in BE; question is when.
Lawsuits probably abound, but at least it looks like one conference will enter 2012 with a stable arrangement. We'll trust that the Big East, which has been quite upset with exits made by its members, is experiencing a fierce bout of angst and guilt about looking to take away perhaps the Mountain West's best two football programs.
Need a refresher on the latest round of college conference realignment as we enter the 2012 football offseason? You're in luck!
There's only room for one sixth-biggest conference in this town, and the Big East has just ensured the Mountain West won't challenge for that status again.
The Air Force Falcons were rumored to be one of the next additions to be Big East Conference, but Lt. Gen. Mike Gould told Bryan D. Fischer of The Gazette that Air Force will officially remain in the Mountain West Conference for the time being.
The Big East announced that the Houston Cougars, Boise St. Broncos, San Diego St. Aztecs, Central Florida Knights and SMU Mustangs were all joining the conference on Wednesday. They will begin playing football in the conference in 2013.
The conference does still plan to expand and rumors are that fellow military academy Navy could be the next football member to join. If that's the case, perhaps Air Force might want to rethink things. For the time being, however, they're standing pat.
Keep up with the latest news and notes on the conference expansion whirlwind, with SB Nation's comprehensive conference realignment coverage. For more on Air Force, visit SB Nation Denver and MWC Connection.
Most of Boise State’s other athletic teams, including men’s and women’s basketball, will compete in the Western Athletic Conference, also effective July 1, 2013.
Boise State was a full member of the WAC between 2001 and 2011 before leaving to join the Mountain West this past year. They'll remain there for one more season.
Western Athletic Conference membership for 2013 is expected to include Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State and Utah State, plus newcomers Denver, Seattle, Texas State, UT-Arlington and UT-San Antonio.
Keep up with the latest news and notes on the conference expansion whirlwind, with SB Nation's comprehensive conference realignment coverage. And for more fan perspective on the Broncos, head to our blog One Bronco Nation Under God.
BYU is likely to join the Big East Conference as a football-only member as soon as this week, according to a report by the Salt City Tribune.
The Cougars currently play football independently a season after leaving the Mountain West Conference.
If true, it means the Big East is on the verge of acquiring the two best available football programs in the Mountain Time Zone. The Boise St. Broncos have made it clear they intend to join the conference, though they were adamant about the Big East also bringing on other Western programs and creating a Western division.
Among the programs also assumed to be close to receiving invitations from the Big East (or already having received them) are Air Force, Navy, Houston, SMU and UCF.
According to some, the Big East would then place UCF in the West but ensure that they play local rival USF every season in order to appease the "traditional" Big East schools. That would make the East Division into: Connecticut, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Louisville, South Florida, and Navy while the West division would be BYU, Houston, SMU, UCF, Boise State and Air Force.
For more on the Cougars, visit BYU blog Vanquish the Foe. For more on the Big East, head to Big East Coast Bias. For more on the conference expansion whirlwind, check out our conference realigment coverage.
While the news that BYU has joined the Big East expansion fray has people thinking about the Big East "West," one school long under consideration is starting to have second thoughts.
The Air Force Academy is apparently starting to think that staying in the Mountain West might be the smarter move than joining the Big East.
Although moving the football program to the Big East is an appealing option, sources with knowledge of academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould’s thought process, who did not want their names used because Gould has not spoken publicly about realignment in weeks, said Gould might be leaning toward staying in the Mountain West.
As you might expect from one of the service academies, the Falcons are doing their due diligence and recon work before jumping in to a conference that is about to lose three traditional members and is embarking on a national expansion with a murky future.
At the end of the day, it sounds like the AFA will wait and see how things break out with some of the other possible members, like BYU, Houston and SMU. If the Big East can assure the Falcons that there is a future in the conference, especially a financially-lucrative one, then they'll a lot more likely to pull the trigger.
For more on the Mountain West Conference , visit Mountain West Connection. For more on the Big East, head to Big East Coast Bias. For more on the conference expansion whirlwind, check out our conference realigment coverage.
There is a "push" for BYU to join the new-look Big East, according to BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall. The coach also told reporters at a Monday press availability session that there are "conversations in place" for the Cougars to renounce their football independence and flee for the ever-expanding BCS automatic-qualifier conference.
BYU would be the "western partner" that fellow Big East aspirant Boise State is seeking, and could certainly follow the Broncos' footsteps by aligning itself with the Big East as a football-only school.
BYU would theoretically be the Big East's 12th team, and fill out a "Big East West" division that would include Boise State, Air Force, Houston, SMU, and either Louisville or Cincinnati. The Cougars would also come with a decent television market — Salt Lake City — and a sizable national following of Mormons, given the school's prominence and connection to the Mormon faith.
For more on the Cougars, visit BYU blog Vanquish the Foe. For more on the Big East, head to Big East Coast Bias. For more on the conference expansion whirlwind, check out our conference realigment coverage.
The Boise St. Broncos seem imminently close to joining the Big East Conference after Thursday's 7-1 State Board vote in favor of accepting an invitation.
However, Boise State President Bob Kustra made it clear that he has certain expectations of the Big East and its potential other new partners upon Boise joining.
Kustra said it was important that the Boise State have a "Western partner" in the new-look Big East, which is planning to split into two six-team divisions. The league is planning to invite Boise State, Air Force and Navy for football only and add Central Florida, Houston and SMU in all sports.
Kustra said under the current plan Boise State would be in a Western Division with Air Force, Houston, SMU, Louisville and Cincinnati.
And so, yes, until the Big East saves us all and names them the Gavitt/Tranghese divisions, we're looking at the formation of the Big East West division and the Big East East division.
For some wierd reason, Kustra also decided to throw it out there that some Western schools outside of the understood possibilities (Air Force, Houston, SMU) might be in the mix as well. He did not mention them by name but the Idaho Statesman's Brian Murphy included the following sentence that made my head explode:
San Diego State has indicated it would have some interest in joining a Western Division of the Big East.
The Idaho State Board of Education voted 7-1 on Thursday to give Boise State President Bob Kustra the authority to leave the Mountain West and accept an invitation to the Big East as a football-only member. They also gave him permission to find a new conference affiliation for the school's other sports.
Kustra told the board he expects the school to become a Big East member by next week:
"We are certainly working on this day-by-day and I would think that by next week we should have a resolution."
The lone dissenting vote came from Bill Goesling, who hails from Moscow, ID. Moscow is the home of the University of Idaho and Goesling is an Idaho grad and former professor there.
Idaho's attempt to Vandal-ize the Boise vote failed.
The Boise St. Broncos moved one step closer to joining the Big East Conference by announcing that they have requested permission from the State Board to change conference affiliation for its intercollegiate athletics teams.
The official announcement from President Bob Kustra notes the significant increases in financial returns that await Boise by joining the Big East:
If the expansion plans of the Big East proceed as reported, there will be 12 football playing schools in the Big East. Under the current Big East media agreements (which will lapse and come due for renegotiation in 2012), the payouts to the football playing schools would be approximately $3,700,000 annually. However, the Big East Conference is the only member of the BCS automatic qualifying conferences that has its media rights package coming due for renewal in 2012. The Big East expects that bidding its media rights on the open market in the fall of 2012 will result in a significant increase in the conference media revenue.
He also notes the BCS standing of the conference, a huge reason why Boise would make the move from non-AQ conference The Mountain West.
According to the latter, the conference change would be expected to occur in July 1, 2013 and thanks to the one-year's notice, Boise would avoid paying the $5,000,000 exit penalty to the Mountain West Conference.
Please oh please oh please let the SMU Mustangs announce they're joining the Big East at the same time Boise State, UCF, Navy, Air Force, Houston and Mystery School X do. It would be just fine with everybody in the world if they could all go ahead and get it over with at the same time, especially with the LSU-Alabama game of the year coming just a day later.
According to one report, SMU will announce Friday, and we can only hope the other five or six-ish will do the same:
Weeks-old reports have pegged Boise State and the service academies as football-only members, with the others joining for all sports. The Associated Press added a report to that list on Tuesday.
Big East commissioner John Marinatto closed out a series of conference meetings with an address to media on Tuesday. Key among his comments: the Big East will expand to 12 teams as planned, and invites should begin going out within the next week. No surprises there. Oh, and West Virginia's lawsuit is no good.
He declined to name any of the schools getting invites, but it was reported by Mark Viera that non-football schools are included in the mix. That part would definitely be news, as the list of expected additions (Boise State, UCF, Navy, Air Force, SMU, Houston and maybe Temple) doesn't include any schools that don't play football.
@McMurphyCBS Reports of Big East extending "non-football memberships" inaccurate. They will offer invites to schools for football-only & all-sports
So there goes that idea. Here's an entirely speculative look at just what that kind of thing could look like if it were to actually happen, though.
Might we actually be nearing the end of Conference Realignment 2011? The Big 12 says it's set at 10 teams, the SEC will soon have its 14th ... if the Big East can get to 12 schools despite losing West Virginia, that's it for now, right? Right?
According to the Dallas Morning News, the SMU Mustangs could make their way into the Big East next week. That comes after realignment meetings involving, in one way or another, Boise State, Air Force, UCF and Houston over the past few days. Add in Navy, which is all but assured to join (the Big East agreed to raise its exit fees only in the event of Air Force or Navy joining), and there's 11. Really hoping the conference just votes on everybody at once instead of doing the entire stupid song-and-dance for all seven new schools.
Candidates for spot No. 12 are believed to be only Temple and Army, though Army's previously declined the invitation, according to reports at the time. Still, we might be almost done with this round, y'all.
The University of Houston Board of Regents has granted unanimous approval to President Renu Khator to make conference realignment decisions on behalf of the university.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Khator was given the ability to negotiate a contract for athletic conference affiliation and provide notice of contract cancellation as necessary.
The Big East has reportedly reached out to Houston about joining its conference as one of six schools they would like to include in a new-look conference. Houston may or may not still want to make that move depending on how the Big East looks once West Virginia or Louisville (or both) decide to leave for the Big 12.
Houston is a current and charter member of Conference USA.
Stay tuned to SB Nation's conference realignment news section.
The show must go on, no matter how many schools the Big East loses and how many senators decide to get involved in conference realignment. The Big East still has to get up to 12 football schools despite West Virginia and Louisville scrambling to break for the Big 12.
The list we've been working with for about a month now -- Air Force, Boise State, Central Florida, Houston, Navy, and SMU -- appears to still be on board. According to the Associated Press, the Big East will meet with the Boise St. Broncos on Thursday.
That's after reportedly meeting with SMU on Sunday, Air Force on Wednesday and having some other sort of meeting with Boise over the weekend. UCF is also scheduled to meet with itself Friday night, as Houston is doing Thursday.
Got the schedule all printed out? Sounds like this portion could wrap up soon. The Big East would then need to talk itself into Temple and talk Army into the Big East, and it would be at 12.
Having lost Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC and future member TCU to the Big 12, and with current member West Virginia seemingly almost entirely out the door to the Big 12, the Big East is, as logic would dictate, casting about for new teams to bolster its dwindling membership rolls. Could SMU be one of those teams? Big East officials met with SMU on Sunday, according to the Dallas Morning News, and the Mustangs might be a part of the Big East's plan to restock with six or more teams.
The Big East has already reached out to a group of teams including Boise State, Houston, Central Florida, Navy, and Air Force. Of those, Boise State is the obvious prize, but it's the group of five teams that would give the conference the bulk and reach to negotiate for more millions (and perhaps billions) in an upcoming TV contract. And SMU's connection to the lucrative, football-mad Dallas market is no doubt appealing.
Boise State President Bob Kustra met with Big East officials in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, the school told the Idaho Statesman.
However, before you get too excited, Boise just wants you to know it wasn't a "date-date."
"It was informational in nature and Boise State continues to consider and evaluate its options," university spokesman Frank Zang said.
Boise is No. 1 on the short-list of football schools the Big East would like to replenish its coffers with. Of course, the Big East also looked a lot more appealing on Sunday, before news broke that West Virginia had one foot out the door.
Without West Virginia, the conference is now in serious danger of remaining a BCS conference, even if it adds Boise State and other schools. Without a BCS affiliation, there's little reason for Boise to make the move.
Like everyone else, the Broncos are likely sitting back and watching how things unfold with Missouri and West Virginia. Once those dominoes fall, they'll know what their next move should be.
Just as quickly as rumors of a Big East/Mountain West/Conference USA Mega-Merger surfaced, the Big East has squashed them.
"We are not part of any meeting with those two conferences,'' Big East spokesman John Paquette told the Daily News, in no uncertain terms.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal had reported the commissioners of the Big East, Mountain West and Conference USA would be meeting on Wednesday to discuss a football arrangement of "28 to 32 teams." Guess not.
The MWC and CUSA have already entered into an arrangement which combines their football programs.
The idea seemed a little less crazy than before on Tuesday due to the news that West Virginia was days away from leaving the conference for the Big 12. Still, for a conference that's already considering adding Boise St., Air Force and SMU, a 32-team mega-conference might have been a bit much to swallow.
The good news? Dreams of The SUNBEAST live on!
Stay tuned to SB Nation's conference realignment news section.
Do you remember that report in the Boston Globe from the weekend on the Big East possibly merging with the newly merged Mountain West and Conference USA? Everybody hooted it down from all directions, but it looks to be an item we may actually need to contend with, especially with West Virginia reportedly leaving very soon.
Even if it still seems unlikely, the Big East will meet with its food chain fellows on the matter, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. That's two papers in the footprint of two conferences reporting it's actually being discussed. Now all we need is one from Conference USA's turf, which is everywhere. So, just one more.
Both cite a 28- or 32-team league with four divisions. The division relevant to the LVRJ's interests:
According to a document obtained by the Review-Journal, UNLV could be in a division that also includes Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii, San Diego State, UNR and Utah State, with San Jose State a possibility if the conference includes 32 teams rather than 28.
Previously reported alignment plans have called for the Big East teams to stay together in one division while the others just get slotted geographically somehow. Of course, the entire morass is likely to lose a couple more schools to the powers before all is said and done, but YEAH somewhere in there I talked myself into this maybe actually happening.
Stay tuned to SB Nation's conference realignment news section.
The University of Houston reportedly received an invitation from the Big East earlier this week. Thursday, they're expected to take the final step towards making the move there.
The UH Board of Regents has called a special meeting for Thursday in regard to the school's athletic conference affiliation. Amongst the items on the agenda is a request for approval to "delegate authority to the Chancellor to negotiate and execute a contract for athletic conference affiliation and to negotiate and provide notice of contract cancellation as necessary."
In other words, give the Houston Chancellor the ability to move the school from Conference USA to the Big East...or any other BCS Conference that might be interested.
Houston is a charter member of Conference USA. If they decide to leave for the Big East, they'll join former CUSA schools Louisville, South Florida and Cincinnati there. SMU, Boise State, Navy, Air Force and UCF are among the other schools expected to be invited and/or join them in the Big East as well.
Stay tuned to SB Nation's conference realignment news section.
Following the news that the Missouri Tigers have conducted some formalities that pretty much mean they're gone for the SEC, it's time to think about what this means for the Big 12. The conference is now back down to nine schools (counting TCU) for next year, three shy of what it would take to hold a football title game.
The West Virginia Mountaineers and Louisville Cardinals have been widely reported as the top two targets, while reports are all over the place regarding the BYU Cougars. One report indicated the Big 12's TV partners were uncomfortable with BYU, but the school admits it's been in touch.
But if Mizzou is leaving in 2012, as the Tigers have said they plan to if they do, in fact, leave, BYU could emerge as an even better choice. Big East schools are locked in for 27 months, meaning the Big 12 would have to remain at an awkward nine teams for a couple years until receiving reinforcements. Adding BYU now would establish an even 10 and hold the fort, so to speak, until the two eastern schools arrived.
All just a scenario, of course.
For more, keep checking Mizzou blog Rock M Nation. And stay tuned here for more .
Based on the Big East's new exit fees stipulation -- the $5 million increase kicks in once a new school joins -- it would appear that a couple schools have reason to hope the Air Force Falcons and Navy Midshipmen take their time in joining. Air Force, for one, looks to be playing along:
Really wish every athletic director and college president around the country felt that way right now. Time to point out, as we do once per week, that there's still a college football season going on right now.
Air Force and Navy have long been expected to join the Big East. It could happen any day now. Seems everyone is waiting to see what the Missouri Tigers do next before making moves.
The Big East has reached out to both the SMU Mustangs and Houston Cougars, according to CBS Sports' Brett McMurphy. This comes a day after McMurphy also reported the conference was hiking its exit fees partially in order to assure the Navy Midshipmen and Air Force Falcons of a stable landing spot.
So that's four of the six presumed new Big East members. The Boise St. Broncos and Central Florida Knights have both been previously reported as on the docket as well. Adding all six would bring the Big East to an even 12 football schools. For now.
Of course, everything hinges right now on whether the Missouri Tigers bolt for the SEC, which appears likely. Bill Connelly's latest conference realignment breakdown is a good look at what happens next, but let's just say it's not pretty for the Big East. None of this really is.
TCU to the Big 12? Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC? Everybody to the Mountain USA? What has the recent realignment drama done to the actual balance of power on the college football field?
The Big East voted on an exit fee increase that is aimed at making the conference a more attractive and stable destination for potential football schools.
The Big East is reportedly prepared to increase it's exit fee to $10 million if Navy and Air Force join the conference as football-only members. On Monday night, Big East presidents and chancellors voted unanimously in favor of the increase, according to CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy.
The hike in exit fee represents an increased financial committment from the leagues remaining members: Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida and West Virginia. That's purpose of the $5 million increase -- to help convince Navy and Air Force that the remaining Big East member schools are committed to the conference. The services academies are reportedly interested in joining the conference as football-only schools, but want to be sure they are moving into a stable situation.
With the recent shifts in the college football landscape ongoing and dramatic, that is a reasonable concern. Via McMurphy:
Less than an hour before the Big East’s presidents and chancellors held their teleconference Monday night with Commissioner John Marinatto, the New York Times reported Missouri’s departure from the Big 12 was "inevitable and imminent."
That development would have a significant impact on the league, specifically Big East members Louisville and West Virginia, who sources have told CBSSports.com are prime candidates to receive a Big 12 invitation if Missouri left. However, all of the Big East’s 14 members still voted unanimously for the increased exit fee.
Boise St. Broncos president Bob Kustra is right to be excited about his school's standing in the world of athletics. From blue field weirdos to BCS outcasts to the conference realignment item du jour -- quite a trajectory. Here, Kustra denies already having an invite to the Big East, says he's not currently in talks with the Big 12 and notes the Mountain West's lackluster media deal.
Kustra here, from the Idaho Statesman:
"The one thing I can tell you about all these conversations I've had this week is that Boise State is the team of the hour, the team of the day, the team of the week. We are the ones that people are really interested in when it comes to how these conferences are going to align and that's really exciting," Kustra said on KBOI before the game, one of many interviews he did Saturday.
The first rule of conference realignment news: when denials reach the point at which school presidents start downplaying things, there's definitely something there.
On a day in which the Mountain West and Conference-USA announced the merger to a mega conference, the Big East has decided that it prefers the 12-team model rather than a 22-team model. Pete Thamel of the New York Times tweets that the Big East has agreed upon six teams to add to the conference to bring the total to twelve.
Just landed. A lot has changed. Most important is that that possibility of a Boise-Big East marriage has increased greatly. The agreed upon 12-team model preferred by Big East is now: Boise, Air Force, Houston, SMU, Navy and UCF.
While all of these are solid editions to the Big East, a couple aren't very "east" but it does make the word "big" very literal. Boise State is in Boise, Idaho and Air Force is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The other additions in SMU, Houston, Navy, and UCF all make perfect sense to add as they are smaller football programs on the rise. Adding them to a BCS conference should only help their growth.
In an act of self-preservation, the Mountain West and Conference USA will merge for football. The new entity will encompass a whopping 22 member institutions, spanning essentially the entire United States. Both conferences announced the move with a press release on Friday afternoon.
According to MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson, the decision to consolidate was made in response to the ever-changing college landscape.
"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."
This should be quite the experiment. It's unclear if the new football-only entity will actually takeoff with 22 teams as both the MWC and CUSA are dangerously close to losing teams to the Big East. How the new entity will work, and what kind of structure it will take, remains to be seen.
CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy is reporting that the commissioners from the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA will hold a joint teleconference Friday to make an announcement regarding the future of both conferences.
With both conferences apparently about to lose members to the Big East, the speculation is that the two will send their regular-season champions to a joint championship game that could bolster the winner's chances of inclusion in a BCS bowl.
A report earlier in the day indicates that MWC members Boise St. and Air Force and CUSA member Central Florida, along with Navy, will receive invitations from the Big East as soon as this weekend. All are expected to accept. The Mountain West, which is already losing TCU to the Big 12, will then have 8 members in 2012. Conference USA will have eleven members, though it has been strongly-speculated that SMU and Houston could receive invites from the Big East as well.
Settle in, college football fans. This one's just getting started.
The Associated Press is reporting that it is a done deal (finally) and the Big East will invite the Boise St. Broncos, Air Force Falcons, Navy Midshipmen and Central Florida Knights and it will happen this weekend.
We know that Navy, Air Force and Boise were all hesitant to jump into the Big East's arms given the volatility facing its future. So what's expected to change their minds?
The increased exit fee, which is being doubled from $5 million to $10 million. It's a way for the Big East to make it a little bit harder for current members to jump ship. Or at least make them think twice.
Then again, do you honestly believe West Virginia will have a problem ponying up $10 million if the SEC invites them? Or that UConn will turn down the ACC because they have to pay that? No way. It's more of a window dressing than anything.
Big East commissioner reportedly wanted the fee to be raised to $17-$20 million, which might sound insane, but would have been an actual deterrent. There's just no way the current football schools were going for it.
Multiple outlets have reported that the Big East is ready to invite the Boise St. Broncos, but it wasn't until CBS Sports' Brett McMurphy said an invite could be coming as soon as next week that it felt like an actual thing. According to McMurphy, the Central Florida Knights, Navy Midshipmen and Air Force Falcons would also be included in that first batch of invites, matching an earlier New York Post report.
McMurphy's new detail: the Temple Owls would be excluded at the expense of the SMU Mustangs and Houston Cougars. Which would mean Villanova would get its way and remain the only Big East school in Philly.
Basically, the news here is that McMurphy is reporting Boise State could soon get an invite to the Big East. His record on Big East realignment means this is probably happening for real.
Stop me if you've heard this one before: the Big East is just about ready to expand, and is looking at a list of six to seven teams as potential conference realignment options. According to the New York Post's Lenn Robbins, that process might actually start coming to life following a Friday vote to raise Big East exit fees.
The first four schools to get invites in the reported scenario: the Boise St. Broncos, Central Florida Knights, Navy Midshipmen and Air Force Falcons. Robbins also has the Temple Owls, SMU Mustangs and Houston Cougars as the three teams left to scrap for two spots.
Interesting that Temple, which has been telling football recruits for months now that it's assured of a Big East return, appears on the second list. Villanova has reportedly objected to bringing back another Philadelphia school. We'll see shortly whether the Big East is actually ready to start dealing.
Remember when Boston College Eagles athletic director Gene DeFilippo apologized for claiming ESPN had told the ACC which teams to add in conference realignment? The Salt Lake Tribune's Jay Drew reports the Big 12 turned down the BYU Cougars for pretty much the same reason:
Why did the league do a sudden about-face, when for more than a month it was reportedly targeting BYU?
Blame it on television. Specifically, the Big 12's current TV partners - ABC/ESPN and Fox Sports Media Group.
Reportedly at issue: BYU's stance against playing sports on Sundays. The Cougars also wanted national air time guarantees and the ability to air some football games on BYUtv, according to the report.
These hangups are all kind of beside the bigger point, which is that here's a second conference reportedly realigning with ESPN and other TV partners looking over its shoulder.
Stay tuned here for more conference realignment news.
Of the many, many, many schools that the Big East is considering to expand with, none is a bigger fish than Boise State, at least in football terms. If all this expansion business is about football, and the name of the game is to be in the a BCS conference, you'd think both sides would be jumping at one another.
A college football official, who spoke Thursday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the Big East's plans, says some Big East presidents are resisting adding Boise State and the school itself has reservations about joining a conference in flux.
It was one thing to add TCU (or at least try), it's another thing altogether to invite a team from Idaho to join a conference with the word East in its title. So you better believe everyone wants to be sure about this.
Of course, if Boise joins and then the Big East loses its AQ status, then that would have defeated the entire point. With reports out there saying that the Big East will definitely keep its status, will definitely lose its status and definitely won't know anything about its status for years...it's all a little confusing.
Stay tuned here for more conference realignment news.
The Big East's problems aren't limited to seeing its teams poached away by other conferences. Remaining members are having a real pickle trying to figure out how to shape this mess back into something worthwhile. Apparently somebody thought at one point that a basketball conference and a football conference could be mashed into one big thing without any repercussions. Weird!
The latest, from the Star-Ledger's Tom Liucci, concerns further bickering and squabbling and hem-hawing and MY GOSH I can't believe Syracuse and Pitt wanted to leave this conference. A few of Liucci's morsels:
Rutgers is starting to sound sort of like UConn, as far as fence-straddlin' goes. Nobody can agree on Boise State. Villanova, of all schools, is throwing its weight around and trying to exclude Temple. "DePaul's vote counts as much as West Virginia's." The last note is not news, but it still makes the eyes bulge.
Even more bewildering: Liucci reports that the conference's basketball schools were pushing for a 15-year commitment from each member, including the football schools.
I ... a 15-year commitment.
It wouldn't be a day in America without an entirely new crop of reports on which schools the Big East is just about set to invite. CBS Sports' Brett McMurphy, who knows the Big East's plans better than the Big East itself (not really joking) reports a Central Florida Knights invitation could be coming soon, though there's no specific timetable.
Also, the New York Daily News' Lenn Robbins reports the conference is "poised" to invite the Temple Owls and Boise St. Broncos. Those three additions, if they all happened, would result in a nine-team league, only three shy of a football conference title game. Getting there!
(It's crucial to note Boise State media remains quite skeptical.)
It's also time to whittle down that list of potential Big East expansion candidates by one school. The Army Black Knights have politely declined, according to McMurphy:
A league source also told CBSSports.com that Army is no longer being considered as a candidate by the Big East. "They've been honest with us and that they're not interested because of the challenges they had previously in Conference USA," the source said.
The Big East is juuust about ready to rebuild itself after losing the TCU Horned Frogs, Syracuse Orange, and Pittsburgh Panthers. In fact, they're looking to do it up even bigger this time and go for 12 football schools, which would mean a conference title game. It would also mean adding six new schools.
Here's the latest.*
At least one or two schools out of the Navy Midshipmen, Air Force Falcons and Temple Owls are believed to be among the first batch of additions. The Army Black Knights could also join, but only for football.
That would leave two to four spots. The rest of the same-ish list of candidates has been altered slightly depending on the reporter for a while now, but we want THE LATEST. Tom Liucci of the Star-Ledger reports it could come down to the Boise St. Broncos, Houston Cougars, Central Florida Knights and SMU Mustangs. Liucci also mentions the East Carolina Pirates and Villanova Wildcats (already a non-football member) as lesser lights.
All of that's pretty consistent with what we've known, other than the Houston thing. The Big East might really be committed to hanging around Texas despite losing TCU.
Boise State has issued a statement on the reports. In Boise State's case, that seems less like a sign there's serious fire and more like an affirmation that Boise State is very polite. Really think they can do better than the Big East if they stick it out.
* For the quick version and something you should read anyway because it's great, here's Big East Coast Bias' breakdown of the candidates.
The Big East has finally gotten around to deciding on expansion. The votes are in, and ... they'll expand! This is great news, considering they were just a Big 12 poaching or two away from completely vanishing as a football conference. Better late than never.
As has long been the buzz, the Navy Midshipmen and Air Force Falcons are expected to be two prime candidates, according to USA Today's Kelly Whiteside, along with perhaps the Army Black Knights. But only football for Army.
Also according to Whiteside, the Louisville Cardinals and West Virginia Mountaineers are likely to stick around instead of leaving for the Big 12. That could mean the Big 12 would turn its focus to the BYU Cougars and maybe even the Boise St. Broncos. It's not an October conference realignment story if it doesn't involve Boise State somehow.
The Boise St. Broncos in the Big East. Few things sound crazier than that. The geography problem is glaring, but so is the sense that Boise State can hold out for better or remain in the Mountain West and hope it can build itself into something legit.
Despite a report that the Broncos are being considered as a football-only member, Pete Thamel of the New York Times reports there are long odds against it happening and no formal discussions have taken place. Still, Thamel says some Big East athletic directors are embracing the idea.
Plus there's a contingency plan being talked about in the event that Boise State football does take its show on the road, even if it's only being talked about by someone besides Boise State and the Big East. WAC commissioner Karl Benson told the Idaho Statesman's Brian Murphy that he'd be willing to take on Boise State's non-football schools in the event that they need a home, as his conference is also talking about doing with the Air Force Falcons.
Keeping non-revenue sports close to home helps cut travel costs. Boise State traveling to play football in New England should pay for itself. Volleyball and gymnastics won't.
Not sure why the Mountain West wouldn't want Boise's other sports, though. Kind of assume the MWC would keep them around, right?
The Big East has been on life support of late, what with TCU deciding to defect from the conference before ever joining it and Pittsburgh and Syracuse fleeing for the ACC. But the Boston Globe reports that the Big East is looking at adding Boise State as a football-only member, along with four other schools, in an effort to stabilize the conference.
Reportedly, the Big East is looking at a plan that would include inviting Boise State, Navy, and Air Force to the conference as football-only members and inviting Temple and Central Florida to the conference in all sports. Of those five teams, Boise State is by far the biggest prize in football; the Broncos would instantly become the Big East's presumptive favorite, as they have two BCS bowl wins — as many triumphs as any current Big East team has BCS bowl appearances.
Adding Boise State would also massively extend the Big East's footprint. The conference, which would seem to have a misnomer as its title, would stretch from the I-4 Corridor in Florida, home to both current member South Florida and potential member Central Florida, to Colorado (Air Force) and Idaho (Boise State).
The Big East could finally be making a move, though nothing is official yet. A piece by the Denver Post's Mark Kiszla quotes Air Force Falcons athletic director Hans Mueh as favoring a future in which Air Force, along with Army and Navy, could join the Big East together:
"Our interest is high in the Big East. That's fair to say," Air Force athletic director Hans Mueh told me Saturday.
"This stuff is moving fast."
Air Force has been linked to the Big East for a while now, reportedly being mentioned as a finalist last week. They've been supposedly about to join for even longer than that. Considering fellow service academy Navy now lacks confidence in the Big East, perhaps the Falcons felt the same way.
Having lost the TCU Horned Frogs, the Big East's westernmost school by far would be Air Force. At the moment, its nearest football school is the Louisville Cardinals, but even they are rumored to be a hot Big 12 target. The closest Big East schools of any capacity would be Marquette and DePaul, which sit on the Great Lakes.
After the conference realignment losses of the TCU Horned Frogs, Syracuse Orange and Pittsburgh Panthers, the Big East will soon be down to only six Division I-A football schools. With the ACC and Big 12 both reportedly interested in one or more of those remaining six, the Big East's football side could completely vanish.
The conference might be forced to become a basketball-only league again. Should they get proactive about it, or should they keep trying to shore up by bringing on ECU, UCF and Temple in an attempt to also convince newly hesitant Navy to join?
Pete Thamel of the New York Times reported Big East presidents met Friday morning to discuss expansion and realignment, and that decisions on invitations could be made very soon. Thamel also lists mid-major basketball powers Butler, Dayton, Richmond and Xavier as likely considerations.
From SB Nation Pittsburgh, here's a look at what a refocused, all-hoops Big East could look like.
Soon, the TCU Horned Frogs will announce they'll join the Big 12 in 2012. Now one is left wondering which teams the conference will add to get back up to a full 12. At the moment, they're set to have 10, but the Missouri Tigers could leave at any moment. If you think the league be content to forego a football championship game, you're nuts, so let's assume a two- or three-pack is still in waiting.
Consulting the same list of schools that's been reported by one or another outlet for the past couple months, here are the remaining candidate rumors: the BYU Cougars, Boise St. Broncos, Cincinnati Bearcats, Louisville Cardinals and West Virginia Mountaineers. And various smaller Texas schools and Tulane (lol).
Smaller Texas schools are right out, you'd have to assume, and let's not pick on Tulane. Here's a pair of reports that have made their way out this week: Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com cites BYU, Louisville and Cincy and Dave Sittler of the Tulsa World lists BYU, West Virginia and Tulane (COME ON). For what it's worth, the Oklahoman's Travis Haney mentions BYU, Louisville and West Virginia, but doesn't appear to be framing that as a report.
Lotta BYU, friends.
Stay tuned for more conference realignment news.
TCU Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson has not had an especially punch-pulling week. After having an existential moment following Saturday's loss, Patterson has now made note that the SMU Mustangs are on their own in the great conference realignment shuffle of 2011:
SMU got a lot of help from us over the last three or four years. They are not going to get any help about a game or a conference; they are going to get no help from Gary Patterson. Don't ask me about anything. We've bent over backwards to help them because that's what I believe in.
SMU was reportedly raised as a potential Big East buddy for TCU. It would make sense to have more than one school in the Metroplex (or even in the same, like, region of the country) so that they could develop a really intense rivalry. Or it's already too intense. I don't know.
Pretty happy to have made it an entire college football weekend without any conference realignment fuss. Tactfully done, athletic directors and other leakers of information!
The news of the moment: Big East presidents met Sunday and granted commissioner John Marinatto the power to expand the conference. Andy Katz has a list of the schools being discussed, which includes three new additions:
The source said a number of schools were discussed, including Navy, Army, Air Force, Temple, Central Florida and a new name in SMU.
The Temple Owls are expected to join in all sports, while the service academies are likely to join in football only. The Navy Midshipmen and Air Force Falcons have been mentioned repeatedly, while the Army Black Knights are a new addition. If Navy must give up over a century of independence, doing so in order to join a conference with both of its fellow Commander-in-Chief's Trophy schools would be the only move worth the sacrifice.
The SMU Mustangs would give the TCU Horned Frogs a local rival, while the Central Florida Knights would do the same for the South Florida Bulls. Kind of a weird conference identity if all six of those are added, which would give the conference 12 teams and the chance to play a title game. Assuming they don't lose anybody else to the ACC or Big 12, of course.
For more, visit Big East Coast Bias.
Things get reported, and things get denied. The Boise St. Broncos have been reported as a potential Big 12 target, in the event that the Missouri Tigers leave for the SEC. So here's a denial on the matter by interim athletic director Curt Apsey:
"We haven't yet," Apsey said Wednesday. "I can tell you we're focused on putting ourselves in the best position going forward. We're very excited about being in the Mountain West Conference. We continue to keep our eyes open and our ears open. That's kind of still where we're at.
One thing that does get confirmed, however, is that report of the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA considering a football merger. Yes! We're getting somewhere! Apsey ensures such a deal is only in the discussion stage, but it's nice to see something get ... not denied.
For more on the Broncos, visit Boise State blog One Bronco Nation Under God.
Just when you think college conference realignment has settled down for a spell, Jon Wilner of the Mercury News goes and reports that the Big 12 is thinking about adding the Boise St. Broncos, BYU Cougars, Louisville Cardinals and West Virginia Mountaineers in the event that the Missouri Tigers leave for the SEC. Moving along, there ... no, wait.
That's a whole lot of information to just drop off in one space. Mizzou to the SEC still seems quite possible, even with the SEC's refrain about being happy with a lucky 13 teams. Louisville, WVU and BYU have been rumored Big 12 targets, with the Cougars reportedly the league's most coveted prize and the interest appearing to be mutual.
But Boise State and West Virginia in the same conference? If you need to lie down, that's fine. It's a report of a plan that's being considered in case a potential event occurs, which is sufficiently far away from actually happening that we may have time to prepare ourselves.
The last round of Big 12 expansion reports had the TCU Horned Frogs in the running as well, with Oklahoma reportedly favoring them and Texas reportedly getting over ... not favoring them. According to Wilner, that's not the case.
Check out the SB Nation communities for each of these schools: Boise State blog One Bronco Nation Under God, Louisville blog Card Chronicle, West Virginia blog The Smoking Musket and BYU blog Vanquish The Foe.
The Big East's next batch of moves might look a little bit different than some had thought. According to the St. Petersburg Times' Greg Auman, USF president Judy Genshaft said the conference "is not looking at any schools in [the] same state[s] as current league members."
If that just means football schools, that would rule out the Central Florida Knights. If that means any league members, that would mean no Temple Owls as well, since the Villanova Wildcats will be FBS-ready ... at some point. (Unless we're being REALLY specific and counting Pitt as a current member, which ... technically.) Genshaft didn't specify.
Other schools reportedly being pursued by the Big East include Navy and Air Force. Temple was booted from the Big East after 2004 but has been talking up its return for a while, and UCF was the long-assumed next Big East team until conference realignment went totally haywire. East Carolina also used to be mentioned in that mix. Those were the days.
The Temple Owls have been talking up their eventual return to the Big East for months now. As talk of the prodigal program's realignment grows, Louisville Cardinals coach Rick Pitino has thoughts on this matter and other matters. You will not be surprised by his thoughts:
Admit Temple immediately. They have a highly competitive football program with outstanding basketball tradition. They are a past BIG EAST member and an excellent school academically. And as all my friends say in Philadelphia, they are located in BIG EAST territory.
Offer Air Force, Navy, and Army to join in football only.
Sit down with Villanova and ask them to make a major commitment to football.
All of those schools have been tied to the Big East in one way or another, save Army. Navy and Air Force are supposed to join aaaany minute now, and Nova's onboarding was recently put on hold for now, though the Wildcats have also reportedly made eyes at the ACC. (That won't amount to anything.)
If my information is correct, the ACC, namely certain basketball coaches, did not like the amount of exposure BIG EAST basketball was getting nationally and the amount of tournament teams selected the past couple of seasons. Their feelings were made known at conference meetings. Now true or untrue, you can't tell me that Pitt and Syracuse are making ACC football significantly better. In the last few years, they have laid off more football staff coaches than Bank of America did with its employees last week.
For more on Big East realignment, check out Big East Coast Bias.
The Connecticut Huskies and Rutgers Scarlet Knights want to join the ACC, and the Navy Midshipmen might join the ACC. You knew that, but here's a sourced report from the Baltimore Sun on both potential moves that adds detail to both stories. Please meet me in the next paragraph so we can talk about some things.
Nationwide college conference realignment didn't really hit me until reports emerged of Navy football joining a conference. They've been independent for 120 years, likely longer than your school has even had a football program. That's longer than Notre Dame's been independent. Even Army joined a conference for a while. Kinda bums me out to see Navy have to give that up and join a basketball conference. The idea of Navy joining a conference makes me shake my head every time I think about it.
Thanks for listening.
Check back often for conference realignment news, because it pretty much never stops happening.
The college conference realignment news is changing by the hour, so QUICK, hurry up and read our breakdown of exactly what we know as of right now. It'll certainly be different by tomorrow.
So you woke up this morning to discover the Big 12 is going to have to try to work together, as the Pac-12 is skipping this round of expansion, pretty much because of the Longhorn Network. Good morning! The big stuff is over for now, but the smaller stuff continues. This means we're right back to the Big 12 needing to replace the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Colorado Buffaloes and Texas A&M Aggies.
According to John E. Hoover, one of Oklahoma's recommendations for the new Big 12 was for the conference to pick up the BYU Cougars, TCU Horned Frogs and Air Force Falcons. Hoover adds that nothing has changed there, but there's no telling on whether the [/counts on fingers, gives up] however many other Big 12 schools agree with that list. Rivals' BYU's site reports the newly independent Cougs will likely accept an offer, FWIW.
As for non-expansion matters, OrangeBloods.com's Chip Brown reports the conference's schools notified commissioner Dan Beebe things are gonna be different now, and the New York Times' Pete Thamel makes a convincing case against the Missouri Tigers looking elsewhere.
For those that think John Marinatto wasn't doing anything to save the Big East before Syracuse and Pittsburgh bolted for the ACC, think again. Marinatto had a master plan and that master plan apparently included inviting Navy to join the conference. So says CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy...
Before the sudden news broke last weekend that Pittsburgh and Syracuse were leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East was in the final stages of acquiring Navy as a football-only member.
No official invitation was extended by the league, but both parties had extensive discussions about Navy joining the league in football only and it very well could have happened in the next couple of weeks, college football industry sources told CBSSports.com.
Brett also notes that the Big East was targeting Air Force as a potential new member as well. Air Force would have given TCU someone else relatively close.
Meanwhile, East Carolina has officially applied for membership in the Big East once again. This time, they've even got the backing of the North Carolina governor.
"The thing I think a governor can do and do very effectively is let the other governors and other decision makers and these other schools that might have a vote understand what a fabulous school (East Carolina University) is," said Perdue.
The Big East football members are meeting Tuesday evening and perhaps any one of these schools or more will be part of the discussion. Or perhaps, with the departure of SU and Pitt, the conference has moved on to Plan B.
For more on the Big East, check out Big East Coast Bias.
The Big East and Big 12 aren't the only conferences brainstorming a merger. In a move that could leave the country with six power conferences again (which is what the BCS reportedly wants anyway), the Mountain West and Conference USA are considering combining their limited might, according to CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd.
Granted, the Mountain USA would only be a power conference by sheer volume, as it could boast more than 20 teams, but you could make a case for a league that included the Boise St. Broncos, Central Florida Knights, Houston Cougars and Southern Miss. Golden Eagles, along with the Fresno St. Bulldogs, Hawaii Warriors, SMU Mustangs and Nevada Wolf Pack.
And further granted, it would pretty much be a confederation of two conferences instead of anything resembling what we have now. The two current halves of the potential conflagration would likely remain as divisions or each be cut into a pair of pods. How often would the East Carolina Pirates and Hawaii really need to travel to play each other in volleyball?
For more on the proposal, visit Mountain West Connection, which may soon become a little more patriotic.
Those three entities in the title are listed in descending order of importance in this matter, of course.
As the Big East has already lost two of its football-playing schools and could lose three more if the Big Ten and ACC help themselves, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have found themselves with a tenuous home for their Olympic sports.
While the Irish remain a football independent, it would be hard to imagine them choosing to leave their basketball in a dilapidated conference with few other nationally branded institutions and no shot at a top media deal -- not to mention one that could soon be upstaged in its own home. Either way, Notre Dame remains the most-prized item on the market for the Big Ten, Big 12, Big East and ACC.
So when Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick comments on conference realignment, it's important:
I don't understand it. How do you vote as a collegiate president on something that has the potential to provide some benefit for your institution and the conference you're affiliated with but has a very negative consequence for a host of other members of the academy, as presidents like to call it?
Also, "a congressman from a state with a university that could be harmed by realignment" is making noise about using the federal government to force other schools to play sports with a school his constituents happen to favor. And NCAA president Mark Emmert wants everybody to settle down.
For more, head to Notre Dame blog One Foot Down.
While Texas A&M, the Big 12 and the Pac-12 continue to dominate the conference realignment rumors, the Mountain West Connection is being proactive by discussing expansion during an executive board conference call on Tuesday, reports Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman.
According to conference commissioner:
"It wasn't necessarily for [realignment talk]. There's just so much innuendo and rumor and hearsay [...]. Until things happen, they don't happen. There's just so much out there. We're doing our diligence."
The Mountain West was involved in the latest round of expansion when they picked up Boise State this year and will add Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii (football-only) in 2012. With the loss of TCU to the Big East in 2012, the Mountain West will have 10 football teams.
By adding just two teams, the league would gain a conference championship game and millions in profits from it. The Mountain West Connection isn't enamored with the possibility of adding teams such as Baylor or Iowa State, but money does talk--even if some of the football on the field isn't the best (Baylor's upset victory over TCU last week notwithstanding).
There's no time like the opening Saturday of the college football season to answer the eternal question: "Wait, who's in which conference now?"
As Texas A&M's impending departure from the Big 12 continues to send rumors flying all over college football, Air Force has officially popped up as a trendy one to join the Big 12 as a replacement.
Air Force's athletic director, Hans Mueh, issued a statement shortly after those rumors cropped up and was non-committal on things. While he claimed the academy is satisfied with being a member of the Mountain West, Mueh still used that phrase "will continue to work towards what is best."
The Big 12 would offer a bigger spotlight for Air Force, but there are still far too many variables before anything happens.
BYU, Notre Dame and Arkansas remain the highest-profile choices that would interest the Big 12, however Notre Dame remains highly-unlikely and Arkansas is unlikely to leave the stable SEC for an unstable Big 12.
Keep and eye on SB Nation Denver for Air Force updates, rumor or otherwise.
With the news emerging that Texas A&M is on their way out of the Big 12 and on their way into the SEC, conference realignment rumors are back in full-force, despite the fact that the football season, featuring actual football games, starts on Thursday night. The BYU Cougars, a football independent and a member of the West Coast Conference for all other sports, have been unsurprisingly linked to a move to the Big 12 due to their independence.
The school responded with a statement about a potential Big 12 move earlier, neither confirming or denying their interest in a conference switch. However, the Salt Lake Tribune is currently reporting that BYU has had discussions with the Big 12 in the last week. It is unclear whether or not the Big 12 has issued an invitation to BYU, but the possibility of the school joining the Big 12 for football while leaving all other sports in the WCC has been discussed.
For more BYU sports, visit BYU blog Vanquish The Foe.
With Texas A&M bolting for the SEC a year after the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Colorado Buffaloes left, the Big 12 is collapsing -- or so the Big 12 says. The conference really should deploy a plan soon to stop the bleeding and ensure the Missouri Tigers, among others, that it makes more sense to stick around than to jet.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Pittsburgh Panthers have seen their names thrown into the Big 12 rumor mix, with each sending out statements denying interest over the past week. People keep bringing up the Arkansas Razorbacks, which isn't going to happen, and YES WE HEAR YOU SMU.
But the lone interesting statement to come out of all this was released by the BYU Cougars:
There is much speculation right now regarding conference affiliation that seems to change by the hour. Commenting on such conjecture is not productive and creates a distraction for our program. As we enter the 2011-12 athletic season, BYU is focused on the opportunities ahead. We are excited about our relationship with ESPN as a football independent and our affiliation with the West Coast Conference. The university will have no further comment.
That's so not a no. If you think about it, schools like Virginia Tech and Pitt have to issue abrupt, frazzled statements denying realignment rumors, as they have current conferences to appease. But BYU's a football independent. So let's talk.
Why would BYU think about giving up its short-lived independence to join Conference Texas?
There are only a handful of schools in the country with the national or global reach to support their own television networks. Texas is one. Notre Dame would be another. So is BYU. BYU likes their relationship with ESPN? Texas loves theirs. I still really like the idea of those three establishing the country's most casual conference, which would allow each school to get money however it pleases.
BYU could have just about everything it wants out of independence, plus annual marquee games against Texas and Oklahoma and a straightforward path to BCS money.
If the Big 12 has another significant move to make, it's not clear right now, but adding BYU could be what it takes.
For more BYU sports, visit BYU blog Vanquish The Foe.
With Texas A&M announcing its intention to leave the Big 12 conference, SMU is interested in taking the Aggies’ place and helping the conference get back to double-digit membership, Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News reports.
“We’re here to help,” SMU athletic director Steve Orsini said. “The news today provides the opportunity for us to reach our goal.”
Dallas-based SMU is currently in Conference USA, but is open to joining any AQ (automatic qualifying) conference.
"We feel it’s time. We’re ready," Orsini said last week via ESPN Dallas. “The college landscape is shifting. We’re already a top academic institution and with the re-commitment of the university already in place, we can be a top athletics program nationally.”
Texas A&M hosts SMU at Kyle Field on Sunday, September 4, which could give the Mustangs a chance to show the Big 12, or other large conferences, that they’re on the same level.
“This is what our guys want, they want to play against the best,” Orsini said. “We want to do that week in and week out.”
For more on the Aggies, visit Texas A&M blog I Am The 12th Man.
On the same day that Texas A&M informed the Big 12 conference it will explore its conference affiliation options, SMU announced publicly that they would like to be a possible replacement.
"We are pushing for it," SMU president R. Gerald Turner said. "We want the city to know we’re pushing for it. We need as much help as possible, even from non-SMU alums. We believe it’s good for Dallas."
SMU brings with it the Dallas-Ft. Worth market and a revitalized football program under the leadership of June Jones. The Mustangs have played in back-to-back bowl games for the first time since 1984. It also brings with it a ton of history, which also includes the 80's Era that culminated in Dealth Penalty sanctions from the NCAA.
SMU isn't specifically saying they'd like to join the Big 12, they're throwing their name out there for any BCS conference that might be interested.
SMU has plans that could be used to expand on-campus Ford Stadium from 32,000 capacity to 40,000. SMU drew an average of 23,000 fans last season. Both numbers are low for BCS conferences, but could see growth in attendance after making the jump.
For more on SMU, visit SB Nation Dallas.
Apparently the Texas Longhorns only play the Texas A&M Aggies because they're both in the same conference. Yep, pretty much nothing else binds the two programs together other than the Big 12. That's how Texas sources view the arrangement, at least, according to Chip Brown of OrangeBloods.com.
That's not really going to function as a threat meant to force A&M to reconsider, though the Aggies have said they'd probably prefer to keep the Horns on the schedule. Sounds more like two kids fighting to have the last word.
Who would Texas look to play during Rivalry Week? Notre Dame, according to Brown. That right there is a whole 'nother story.
So far, the Longhorns are losing the early PR battle here. Unaffiliated reaction until this point had been neutral except for Longhorn Network concerns, with most preferring to see these two spend some time apart, provided they still play each other. But now Texas kind of looks like the bad guy, even to those who didn't really care about the Longhorn Network before.
Of course, that will probably all change in the next few minutes when A&M's exit puts Baylor into $143 trillion worth of debt.
The wheels of expansion keep on turning, and though Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin was mum about his plans for the Aggies after the Board of Regents granted him the power to make conference alignment decisions, others took a more direct approach. While Monday's decision was widely seen as the first big step towards the Aggies leaving for the SEC, nothing is set in stone and there's still a process to be followed. But that doesn't mean Texas A&M officials are speaking out about the SEC, Big 12 and the Aggies' future.
For instance, the lone finalist for the vacant Texas A&M chancellor position, John Sharp, told reporters he thinks the SEC is a "win-win situation" and is all for the Aggies changing allegiances.
And if the Aggies do leave, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe may shoot for the stars in an effort to replace them.
"They will leave," the Big 12 administrator told the American-Statesman on Monday night. "We'll try to add one or three teams." The administrator added that the Big 12 will try to persuade Notre Dame and Brigham Young to consider joining the league if A&M departs .
It sure seems like Notre Dame and BYU are nothing more than a pipe dream. The latter has shown nothing that would indicate it would rather join a conference and the former just fled the MWC for its own independence. But hey, it never hurts to dream big, right?
What if Karl Benson threw a party and nobody came? Floating in the detritus of the Friday afternoon bad news dump, that time after 3:30 p.m. reserved for the most unsavory of PR releases, came the news that UT Arlington will accept an invitation to mount up with the WAC for the 2012-2013 athletic year. Doggedly cheerful quotes from the conference commish's press release follow!
We are very pleased to add UT-Arlington as the 10th member of the WAC for 2012," Benson said. "Besides bringing top level academics to the league, the addition will provide a geographical balance to the WAC and help in the creation of travel partners as we attempt to further expand to two six-team divisions in the future."
"UT-Arlington and the Dallas-Fort Worth region also bring in another top-20 media market to go along with the recent additions of Seattle and Denver. The addition will significantly help the WAC in securing more lucrative television rights fees in the future," Benson said.
UT Arlington does not field a football program, and finished next to last in Southland West men's basketball in 2010.
Not satisfied with welcoming one new member who'll be fielding its first-ever varsity football program in 2011, one that can't win in AA ball, and two more schools primarily in play for their basketball teams, the WAC has officially invited the University of Texas at Arlington to join the ranks of Division I-A, welcoming to a wannabe AQ BCS conference an institution that doesn't play football and will apparently not be bound to try:
Should the University of Texas System board of regents approve the recommendation join the WAC, UT Arlington will join the conference beginningJuly 1, 2012, in all sports but football. The agenda document notes that "the WAC is a football bowl subdivision conference where football is important, but UT Arlington’s invitation is not conditioned on starting a football program."
The Mavericks, who finished second from the bottom of the Southland West last season in men's basketball, would join hoops members Denver and Seattle, UT San Antonio in year one of gridiron play under Larry Coker (hey, Larry Coker!), and Texas State, which boasts a nonwinning Southland tradition in an entirely different sport, as WACspansion teams in 2012. This move would follow the departure of Boise State to the Mountain West, Utah to the Pac-12, and BYU's arrival in the WAC as a basketball member, and coincide with Hawaii, Fresno State, and Nevada bolting to the Mountain West and TCU decamping for the Big East. Got all that? New conference crest reads, in Latin: "You can get there from here."
The Temple Owls are certainly talking about it. Seems like every player who commits to play for the Owls these days is doing so under the pretense that Temple will be returning to the Big East very soon.
First, there's LB Michael Kalaman:
"I am really excited about being coached under new head coach Steve Addazio, as well as the other coaches he brought along," Kalaman said of the former Florida offensive coordinator. "Temple will hopefully be moving back to the Big East by the time I get there in 2012. I believe they are on the verge of excellent things with their football program."
"I'm more of a receiver, but I have the body to block. They told me they're going to use two tight ends and Coach Addazio, from his history at Florida, I know he'll be passing the ball a lot. The program is probably going to be in the Big East and I know he's gonna get the job done there."
And then there's TE Tanner Kearns:
"I got to meet their coach and like him. I know they play in Eagle Stadium (Lincoln Financial Field) and plan on moving to the Big East soon."
And finally, DB Tavon Young:
"Tavon has committed to Temple," said Mr. Young. "First and foremost is the academics and they pass with flying colors. He has always loved the staff that came up from Florida. He likes the defensive scheme. It is close to home and he will be a part of the Big East in 2012."
Alright, what in the name of Bill Cosby is going on here? Temple is predictably denying that they've told recruits any of this and the Big East will remain mum until the time is right.
I wouldn't put too much stock in this, but, I mean, four different recruits are talking about this like it's common knowledge. So either Steve Addazio is a stone-cold liar or...maybe, just maybe there's something to it.
Temple DOES bring something to the table that Villanova doesn't...a giant stadium. They're also doing quite well and don't resemble the Big East bottom-feeder they were in the 90's and early 00's.
So what does Villanova make of all this? They don't seem too surprised, especially considering they're telling their recruits the exact same thing Temple is.
Stacey Bedell, a 2012 tailback, told Scout.com after giving Nova his verbal commitment, that he chose the school because, "[t]he coaching staff was great with me while I was down there, they’re going into the Big East next year which is exciting and it’s a great academic school."
In other words, chances are this is more of a recruiting tactic than anything solid. Still, it's worth keeping an eye on as the Big East moves closer and closer to its decision on expansion...for now.
QUICK: name every school that will be a member of the Western Athletic Conference two years from now. You cannot. With the Boise St. Broncos, Nevada Wolf Pack, Hawaii Warriors and Fresno St. Bulldogs all leaving the WAC and Denver Pioneers, Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners and Texas State Bobcats signing on, the conference's membership has been the nation's most difficult to memorize.
Now another school has joined up: the Seattle Pioneers have been invited and will accept, says commissioner Karl Benson, who cited the attractive Seattle media market. The Utah Valley St. Wolverines were the other team up for admission, but didn't earn an invite this time around.
And let's review: the Idaho Vandals, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, New Mexico St. Aggies, San Jose St. Spartans and Utah State Aggies remain full WAC members. The BYU Cougars play WAC softball, and California State play WAC baseball, and a few other teams compete in WAC gymnastics ... I think that's it.
The early reports out of Villanova on Monday had merit, as it happens, and Tuesday's planned vote on whether or not the program will join the Big East has been put on indefinite hold thanks to existent member concerns about Nova's lack of a high-capacity stadium. SB Nation's Nova Blog has an email from university president Fr. Peter Donohue that reads, in part:
Without a clear and formal invitation from the Big East, we cannot proceed. We are now working with the Big East to provide whatever additional information and details we can. It is our hope that in the near future we will proceed with the Board of Trustees vote as planned.
Needless to say, after all this hurry-up-and-now-wait, our Nova community ain't happy -- with anybody, really.
[A]pparently, the the communication not only amongst the conference members, but between Villanova and the Big East was so astoundingly horrible that at the 11th hour it was discovered that Villanova's plan wasn't up to the expectations of the conference members. On the surface, the Big East looks to have screwed the pooch pretty bad on this one - but we're not letting ourselves off the hook either.
Over in the peanut gallery, the NCAA's compliance blogger, John Infante, has a cheeky renaming suggestion for when they get this stadium thing worked out, and meanwhile, UCF's all, "Oooh! Oooh! Pick me! Pick me!"
With the expansion carousel ride that carried the Mountain West, WAC, Big 12, Big 10, and Pac-10 around and around for our amusement all 2010 long winding down at last, it's naturally time for the Sun Belt to hop on board, because why not? With our longtime favorite South Alabama Jaguars (U-S-A!) moving up to I-A in 2012, the SBC will be a 10-team league, and just two programs away from being a legit dozen and all the privileges that affords. Naturally, as we've come to expect from all conferences mired in these matters, there are hilarious provisos involved:
The Sun Belt would only consider universities with an established Football Bowl Subdivision program currently aligned with another conference. And the conference would want any new member to fit into its geographical footprint.
WE AIN'T THE WAC, in other words. (Tragically, this knocks out our first choice of Florida A&M, whose band and terrifying mascots would only enrich our national fabric of college football with amped-up coverage.)
Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State, both ex-Sun Belt teams, are listed as potential targets, but in case this doesn't happen, pony up. We want a Sun Belt conference championship. More accurately, imagine the parties. Imagine the parties in Ruston if a conference championship game comes to town. What schools would you be willing to jettison from your own conference to make this happen?
A look around the SBNation college blog network reveals varying opinions on Monday’s news that TCU will join the Big East Conference in 2012.
BCS Evolution says the move all but kills the MWC’s bid for a BCS invitation:
Losing TCU kills any life support that bid had. Because the move happens in the 2012-2013 season, TCU will still count for the MWC in the numbers. Those numbers will come up short of a guaranteed automatic qualification, but should leave then eligible to petition for an automatic qualification. The loss of TCU the following year critically wounds the MWC’s case. Normally I would publish those numbers after an expansion, but the next scheduled release is due early next week (after the final BCS standigns are released).
I expect the MWC to extend an invite to at least three of Idaho, Utah State, San Jose State, and New Mexico State in the very near future. Hawaii has flirted with independence, but the issue may be forced upon them if the MWC insists that they add too much travel cost with too little value added.
Mountain West Connection says the financial considerations of the deal were just too much for TCU to shy away from:
In 2012 TCU will earn roughly 4-5 times the amount of television revenue than it could in the MWC and possibly much more than that when the contract is renegotiated for 2013. This money will be quite a boon for TCU’s athletic development as TCU is a private university that does not receive public funding like a University of Texas does, so the extra athletic revenue will help to further improve the athletic department and facilities.
The extra money is nice but it will be even better to be back on ESPN again and get some heavy east coast exposure. ESPN is great not only because of the amount of eyes on the games but also the amount of love and publicity ESPN will throw your way as they shamelessly promote those games. Boise State got a good taste of that love this year and conversely TCU felt the cold shoulder that you get when you’re not an ESPN product, which was especially evident last night on the BCS Countdown Show.
The UConn Blog is wondering how the heck a 17-team basketball conference is going to work:
The frank truth is that a 17-team basketball league is probably unworkable. The Big East may find some crazy-ass way to do it, but I’d bet that this either starts the break-up of the conference (especially if the Big East looks to expand further, which wouldn’t shock me) or marks the beginning of the end for some schools. Let’s just say that if I was the athletic director at DePaul, I wouldn’t let John Marinatto take me on any fishing trips to Lake Tahoe.
Card Chronicle sees nothing but upside for all parties involved:
It’s an understatement to say that is the best case scenario as far as the first step in expanding the league goes. TCU still has an outside shot at winning the national championship this season, and if recent years are any indication, the program figures to remain in solid shape by the time the move happens. In short, the league gets its respectable eight-game conference schedule and does so by adding a perennial top 25 program and emerging player on the national scene.
Anonymous Eagle wonders how the arrival of a Texas school will impact recruiting and scheduling for the other Big East squads:
First and foremost, it may have an impact on recruiting. Buzz’s contacts in Texas have funneled a steady stream of talent up north. Will TCU stem that flow? I tend to think not. In fact, it should only increase MU’s exposure in the area and will guarantee recruits at least two trips back to their home state.
What remains to be seen is how this will impact Big East conference scheduling and the Big East tournament. The path of least resistance for scheduling is to keep the 18 game conference season and drop one of the three mirror games. They league may also consider a single round robin 16 game league schedule. Either way, TCU limits Marquette’s opportunities to play the conference heavies. I can’t even venture a guess on how the conference tournament will work. Will the bottom feeder team stay home?
So there’s also one other issue that is irking some – the distance. How will TCU and the league cope with the distance? Well, to be honest, I think we’re going to see a lot more of this. The Big Ten and Nebraska kind of kicked things off as Lincoln isn’t exactly a hop, skip, and a jump away from schools like Penn State. The more time goes on, the more we’re going to see schools and conferences simply learn to deal with this. Flights cost money, but is a flight to Fort Worth from Syracuse really all that much more than one to Louisville? I can’t imagine so.
Voodoo Five is surprised the basketball-only schools accepted the deal:
I’m surprised that the basketball schools caved in and let TCU in as an all-sports member, but it is the best thing for the conference as a whole. TCU raises the profile of the football side of things, and their Olympic sports are quite good, with their baseball and women’s basketball teams consistently ranked in the Top 25. Maybe most importantly, TCU’s BCS rankings will be attributed to the Big East when reevaluation starts in a few years.
Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician is happy to see TCU join up but concerned about the timing of the announcement:
I’m all for the Horned Frogs joining up for quite a few reasons. That said, I think the timing is awful for two specific reasons:
1. All it’s going to do it remind everyone how much better TCU is than every other team in the Big East and how bad Big East football has been this year.
2. Let the “can TCU have the Big East’s automatic bid this year?” jokes begin.
TCU's gone and held their official press conference confirming the report that the Horned Frogs are, in fact jumping ship from the Mountain West to the Big East for the 2012 athletics season. If you'd like to view the Q&A in its entirety, the full video is available on the university website. For the impatient, we've got pertinent tidbits from the official announcement:
• The trustees' decision to jump from mids to majors was unanimous.
• The official exit date for the Horned Frogs is July 1, 2012.
• Fun media numbers highlighting the business side of the decision:
In adding TCU and the nation's fifth-largest television market, the Big East Conference further strengthens its footprint on the national television scene. Big East markets already contained almost one-fourth of all television households in the United States. Big East institutions currently reside in nine of the nation's top-35 media markets.
• Of course, joining a conference they'll win every year from here to eternity AND get a guaranteed BCS bid has to be nice, too. Make room in the trophy case, facilities personnel:
"The Board of Trustees, along with TCU's administration, thoroughly examined the invitation and came to the conclusion that joining the Big East is the right move to make at this time," said Luther King, chair of TCU's Board of Trustees. "This University has a lot of momentum and joining the Big East will accelerate that momentum."
And though the geography of a trip to, say, Storrs is comparable to the distance between TCU and would-be conference-mate Boise State, if TCU's basketball program is het up about having to motor all the way over to the East Coast so many times per year, they have only one of their own to blame:
Pitt men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon and a TCU alumnus, confirmed that he did initiate contact between his alma mater and the Big East. Dixon was with Del Conte for a homecoming weekend against Baylor Sept. 18. Dixon and Del Conte spoke about how the Big East was going to need another football member. Dixon tested TCU's interest and then let Marinatto know of the Horned Frogs' desire to look at membership. Once TCU's football team rose in the BCS standings and the Big East struggled, the matter became a need for both parties.
The TCU Horned Frogs will join the Big East conference as a full-time member in the 2012-2013 season, according to AOL FanHouse. The move means TCU, which is currently in the Mountain West, isn't waiting around for an automatic BCS bid, since as a member of the Big East they can immediately move into yearly BCS contention in a conference whose football members have been less than impressive in recent history.
The move signals a few things as far as TCU's thinking regarding its football program, the team that is the unquestioned centerpiece of its athletic program.
First, it means TCU isn't going to wait on the BCS to give it a spot as a "non-AQ" school, its current status since as a member of the Mountain West they compete with Boise State and other non-BCS schools for the one reserved slot in the bowl rotation each year. It also means they're shoring up the revenues of the school's program for the long-term. Most importantly from a media perspective, it means they're tired of playing on The Mountain, the disastrous and little-viewed television network the Mountain West broadcasts many of their games on, and want to improve their national profile by playing nationally televised ESPN games on a regular basis. Going from 38 million subscribers on The Mountain to the national span of ESPN is certainly worth the move all by itself.
It also means TCU will be playing basketball in a 17 team Big East conference in the winter's favorite indoor sport. Revenue-wise that's certainly a boost for the Horned Frogs, but it's also introducing themselves to a punishing conference schedule in hoops. Though the consideration of basketball is certainly a secondary one for TCU--this is a football move, and a football move through and through--it is still worth mentioning for the fun of envisioning Syracuse's basketball team playing TCU twice a year. (Forecast: PAIN.)
The WACspansion saga that's decidedly not taken the country by storm is expected to reach its denouement this afternoon, when commissioner Karl Benson has scheduled a 5 p.m. EST teleconference to announce the conference's intention to add three new member schools to its ranks: the University of Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners, the Texas State Bobcats, and the University of Denver Pioneers. The two Texas schools will compete in all sports, while Denver will serve as a conference member in everything but football.
And how will these three programs fare in replacing BCS top-five regular Boise State, offensive powerhouse Nevada, and Fresno State, which, well, Fresno's probably nice at some point during the year, just never when we've been there?
UTSA is starting a football program that will begin play in 2011. Former Miami coach Larry Coker is the Roadrunners' coach.
Texas State plays in the Southland Conference in the Championship Subdivision of Division I, but has been exploring the possibility of moving up to FBS. The Bobcats are 4-5 overall and 1-4 in the Southland Conference this season.
Denver competes in the Sun Belt in most sports and does not have a football team.
To dull the gleaming edge of victory just a trifle more, presumed fourth newcomer program Montana (the best-positioned of any of the four programs to actually compete at the I-A level in football) has just announced it intends to remain with the Big Sky conference, meaning the WAC will likely extend a non-football membership invitation to the University of Seattle:
President Royce Engstrom said in a release Thursday that it was a complex decision. But, he adds, the better course for the school is to stay with the conference it helped establish in 1963.
This, of course, is code for "We're waiting for the inevitable invitation from the Big 12 and don't want to have to change our stationery more than once."
ESPN's Andy Katz is reporting that the University of Denver Pioneers, Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners and Texas State Bobcats will join the WAC, beginning in the 2012-2013 season.
UTSA and Texas State will join in all sports, while Denver will join in all except for football, as the university doesn't have a program at the FBS level.
The addition is meant to offset the loss of Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada to the Mountain West Conference. It's been said that the WAC has been looking to add four more teams to expand beyond its current six team membership, which is two below the amount required by the NCAA.
Katz also reported that the Montana Grizzlies have be extended an invitation to join the conference but have yet to make a decision. Should Montana decline, the WAC will offer a spot to the University of Seattle.
An official announcement about the three new schools joining is expected from the WAC on Thursday.
At this point, pretty much all we know of the Big East conference expansion plan is that the conference does, in fact, intend to expand its ranks to include ten member football football schools. (If it can.) Following initial reports that the conference had spoken to TCU and Villanova about joining up, TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte first denied he'd been contacted about jumping ship from the Mountain West, and is now shooting down rumors they'd split up the school's programs, saying he wouldn't want to send Horned Frogs football to compete in a separate conference.
"We’re an athletic department," he said in a telephone interview with Sporting News. "Whatever endeavor we do, you’re united as one. That’s who we are. That’s how we always compete. We compete as one unit."
But, just to complicate matters, he's of course leaving options on the table (and invoking Bette Midler?):
"My sole job is to provide the wind beneath the wings for our teams to compete for championships, whatever that may be," he said. "I will always look at the things we need."
As for a move to the Big East, Del Conte said the reports remain premature, and that TCU’s football program is comfortable for now as a Mountain West Conference member.
For now. With TCU undefeated and gunning for a slot in the national title game, the view from a Horned Frog's blood-rimmed eyes must seem rosy indeed. If they win out and get slighted by Oregon or Auburn, however, it wouldn't be hard to imagine some longing gazes being cast towards a conference where TCU could immediately wreck shop and be guaranteed a BCS berth.
Or, this could all still be a coy smokescreen to get Nova to realize it's loved the Big East all along. Mon dieu, the suspense! Tune in this winter, when actual football ends and we'll be forced to talk about this kind of thing all the time.
TCU has been the main suspected team that the Big East wants to add in an attempt to shore up their football conference, which has zero teams in the current top 25. TCU Athletic Director Chris Del Conte told the Dallas Morning News that no one from the Big East has contacted him about the possibility of TCU joining the Big East.
Central Florida also has denied any contact with the Big East concerning them leaving Conference USA:
"There has been no contact between UCF and the BIG EAST Conference. We continue to be a proud member of Conference USA."
This seems to be only a matter of time, because the Big East said they want to go to 10 teams, and have already contacted Villanova about moving up from FCS to FBS.
We have official word at last that the Big East will, in fact, pursue expansion to ten football members. More importantly, we've gleaned via the conference's official website that the conference uses ALL CAPS when referring to itself in print:
The BIG EAST Conference submitted the results of its extensive self-analysis and evaluation of the college athletics environment today at its annual Conference Board of Directors meeting. Based on those results, the BIG EAST presidents agreed that the interests of each of the conference’s 16 member institutions would be served by increasing the number of Bowl Subdivision football-playing members to 10.
SB Nation's Syracuse community takes issue with the characterization of the statement as an outset of exploration if the conference has already spoken to TCU and Villanova, at least, and faces up to the geographical blind eye-turning that's about to ensue:
Big East fans are going to have to set aside their whole "east" thing from now on. This is about building a network and the only way the conference is going to become a viable network is by being as national as possible. Combine Dallas and Houston with NYC, Philly, DC, Tampa, Chicago and Pittsburgh and the Big East now has the kind of access the Big Ten Network dreams of.
Despite overtures having been made to two schools that we know of, no official candidates have been announced.
The WAC is set to add programs to replace Boise State, Nevada and Fresno State, all of whom are heading to the Mountain West. The San Marcos (Texas) Daily Record is reporting that the WAC is going be adding four new teams:
WAC Commissioner Karl Benson has stated he'd like the conference to get back to having at least eight football-playing members and with the immediate addition of Texas State and UTSA, it would bring the WAC to eight. When Montana finally gets around to declaring itself ready, it would bring that total to a favorable nine.
"It's pretty obvious at this point," WAC Senior Associate Commissioner Jeff Hurd said. "You know who the football playing schools are and you know who the non-football playing schools are. I don't know if you can say it's automatic but if you're looking at a probability, it's pretty high."
Yet according to sources close to the situation - since Montana is in currently in a transition mode - Texas State and UTSA will be invited into the conference for all sports while Denver and Seattle will join for all but football.
This move is all about keeping the WAC together as a football conference, because by losing Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada, they would have been down to only six schools, two fewer than the NCAA requirement.
This should close the door on expansion for 2010, unless the Big East is serious about adding TCU.
As previously speculated in this space, two teams from Texas have interest in joining the depleted WAC. Texas State and UT-San Antonio, along with Denver, Montana, and Seattle, were scheduled to meet with the conference membership committee in Dallas today and present their cases for a bump up to Division I-A:
Among the items schools are expected to discuss are budgets, current rosters, the institution in general, sponsorship, institutional commitment and how their individual markets would be attractive to the WAC.
Texas State, UT-San Antonio and Montana will make presentations as potential football-playing members. Benson said he hopes to have a minimum of eight football-playing schools prior to the 2012 season.
Denver and Seattle are applying as basketball members; if the idea of UT-San Antonio joining I-A football sounds unfamiliar, it's because they won't even officially launch their program until 2011. And if you're wondering what "attractive markets" and "Montana" have to do with one another, New Mexico State AD McKinley Boston has some thoughts that perfectly encapsulate the current state of the WAC:
I like Montana's footprint in terms of its location in the west. It has a football brand, even though it's at the 1-AA level, but it wouldn't take long for people to adjust to it.
Phrasing is king: It wouldn't take long for WAC audiences to adjust to I-AA football? What a tragic commentary on our times.
Every time you think the conference realignment carousel has stopped spinning, someone goes and gives it another push.
This time it's the Big East, if the New York Post's Lenn Robbins is to be believe. Robbins is reporting that two sources close to the league say the conference is actively pursuing TCU as a member
"We are in a situation that requires us to evaluate and analyze all our options including expansion and television," said a source close to the league who requested anonymity. "There are a dozen or so schools that we’re looking at."
One source stressed that there have been no meetings among Big East presidents or ADs to discuss membership. But that source also said expansion has altered the way conferences think. The fact that TCU hardly matches the Big East footprint is a tertiary concern."
While it seems like a big stretch for a conference with the word East in the title to invite a school from Texas, the fact remains that the conference needs a ninth member to solidfy its football side and they could do a lot worse than the Horned Frogs. TCU has been one of the best teams in the nation over the last five season and is currently ranked in the top five of all major polls.
However, that leads to the next question..what else does TCU bring to the table? They don't offer many other top tier athletics programs. Their basketball team will be a bottom-feeder in a conference that's already too bloated. Throw in the geographic and tradition differences and it makes you wonder if the Big East has traded in any long-term strategy for a short-term solution.
Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician floats out another possibility as well. That this is all just a smokescreen to force Villanova into moving up to FBS for football. While not the big splash of taking on a TCU, the Wildcats would make a lot more traditional and geographic sense. If the conference got a school like TCU to join for football, they wouldn't need Villanova's program anymore. Expect to hear movement on that end in the next few days.
When the Big Ten was potentially stealing schools like Pitt and Rutgers from the Big East a few months back, Big East consultant Paul Tagliabue bristled at the idea that Northeastern audiences would be interested in watching Rutgers take on Minnesota. You have to wonder then, why they'd be that much more interested in watching TCU and Rutgers square off. Especially in basketball.
That said, the conference clearly has to act quick in order to solidify itself and its future. An addition like TCU would be a fantastic short-term solution. The long-terms effects remain to be seen.
Keep an eye on Mountain West Connection for any TCU-related updates.
The WAC, which lost three teams this past summer, is now in the market to add teams in order keep their conference affiliation in football and basketball. As a basketball league, the WAC can survive with six teams due to an NCAA provision that will allow them a two year grace period; this will allow the WAC to keep their automatic tournament qualifying bid until they can get back up to eight members.
To achieve those numbers, the conference is exploring expanding the league footprint into Texas to add two schools:
WAC commissioner Karl Benson said Texas State and UT-San Antonio will make presentations to the league's membership committee at its Sept. 28 meeting in Dallas.
"There are other schools that have confirmed their participation," Benson said. "Until they acknowledge their participation, I will defer until they make public that they're meeting with us."
Texas State currently plays football in the FCS, where UT-San Antonio is scheduled to launch its own gridiron program in 2011. A move to the FBS level would take more than one year, so if commissioner Karl Benson is planning on having eight football teams in the WAC fold for the 2012 season, he would either need to add teams from a current FBS league, or somehow fast track the two Texas programs.
Denver, meanwhile, is soliciting to join the WAC as a non-football member. Currently, Denver plays all non-football sports in the Sun Belt, where they're inconvenienced by length of travel and lack of a large alumni base. Also reportedly interested in basketball membership is Seattle University, ideally located in a state currently dominated by the Pac-10 and WCC, whose acceptance would bring the WAC roster back to ten schools.
Texan politicians of various stripes are legendary for their ability to shape the landscape of college football. (The most notorious example of this is then-governor Ann Richards' lobbying for the inclusion of Baylor in the Big 12.) It should come as no real surprise, then, that a large-ish group of legislators isn't through turning the conference this way and that, and their desires are fixed on Houston:
State Reps. Garnet Coleman and Bill Callegari, both from the Houston area, co-wrote a letter Thursday asking Big 12 officials to consider adding the university to the conference.
"UH is the third largest university in Texas, and is on track to rank among the top research universities in this state," the letter says. "Despite UH's local and statewide prominence, the university does not belong to a strong BCS conference such as the Big 12. The Cougars, the city of Houston, and the state of Texas deserve better."
It's frankly not a bad idea. Houston's a sizable TV market (though likely already saturated thanks to the sprawling reach of the Texas alumni base), and their football team, ranked first in the nation in total, passing, and scoring offense in 2009, would do the popular conception of defense-free Big 12 football proud. The move would also be a step towards healing a semantic rift. Texans are a pragmatic people, and the thought of them continuing to field a 10-team conference named "12" just doesn't sit well. (Leave the imaginary numbers for those fancy lads up north.)
As was expected, Utah voted unanimously on Thursday to accept the Pac-10’s invitation to join the conference. The Utes leave behind the Mountain West Conference to become the 12th team in the Pac-10, joining Colorado as the two new teams.
With 12 teams, the Pac-10 now has the number of schools required by the NCAA to play a conference championship game.
Utah will hold a meeting of its Board of Trustees at 2:30 p.m. EDT to discuss and most likely approve their invitation to the Pac-10, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
This marks the final step in this phase of conference expansion now that the Big 12 has stabilized at ten teams and the Pac-10 has shown no signs of expanding any further. Utah will leave the Mountain West Conference and join Colorado as the rookies in the division, and if they follow CU’s lead will attempt to push the timetable to play in conference in 2011.
Utah is on its way to the Pac-10, a Mountain West Conference source said Tuesday night. The source did not want to be named because an official announcement has not been made.
The denials by Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott are expected, but at this point the denials seem to be aimed at the timing of when when Utah receives their invite. The Utes are all but officially in the Pac-10, because it is well known that the Pac-10 wants a title game and that Utah was their fallback choice after Texas.
Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott is denying the report by Comcast that said earlier this evening that Utah is being introduced as the latest Pac-10 member tomorrow. Salt Lake Tribune's Utah beat writer Lya Wodraska sent out this tweet with the Scott denial.
More info coming from University of Utah athletic office:
In addition, MWC officials I just spoke with said they have not received any notification from Utah that it is leaving and Utah associate athletic director Liz Abel said there was "nothing new to report."
Make sure to check in with SB Nation's Utah blog BlockU for further developments.
Unconfirmed reports have an official invitation from the Pac-10 to Utah in the works, and unlike the last few conference expansions, this one appears to be heading for a speedy resolution:
The Pacific-10 Conference will extend an invitation to the University of Utah to become the league's 12th team, Comcast SportsNet has learned exclusively from sources close to the situation.
A press conference is expected to formalize the announcement on Wednesday.
Make sure to check in with SB Nation's Utah blog BlockU for further developments.
Colorado is barely a member of the Pac-10 and there is no 12th member just yet, but according to CBS4 Denver, the 12-team version of the conference is already set, along with its two-division breakdown.
Sources close to C.U. have told CBS4 Sports the Buffs are projected to be in a 6 team division in the new Pac-10. The Buffs will be joined by USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State and probably Utah, which is expected to receive an invitation to join the Pac-10.
The remaining teams in the conference that will make up the Pac-10 North are:
Cal-Berkeley, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State
While that does make sense, remember that it’s still just an unconfirmed rumor based on another unconfirmed rumor. Don’t book those flights just yet. Keep an eye on The Ralphie Report for any updates as they happen.
With the Texas and Oklahoma schools deciding to stay in the Big 12 rather than jump to the Pac-10, many folks are taking it as a sign that the Great Conference Armageddon Of 2010 is reaching its conclusion. That might be the case but if no major revelations remain, there is still one issue that needs to be resolved.
The Pac-10 didn't take on Colorado just so it could expand to eleven teams. It wants to get to at least twelve to reach the magic number that qualifies them for a conference championship game. That means there's at least one more team that's going to switch conferences and the smart money seems to be on Utah.
According to Tom Cella at UteZone.com, the University has already notified the MWC of its intentions to leave the conference. Now, it's just up to the Pac-10 to officially invite them and complete the deal.
For the Mountain West, the news would basically just reset them. They will have swapped outgoing Utah for incoming Boise State. All things considered, their situation could have ended much worse.
As for the Pac-10, the coveted conference championship game and the revenue it generates should help Larry Scott get over the loss of his grand Pac-16 experiment that fell apart. Colorado and Utah also provide some semblance of a regional duality that matches the rest of the conference.
Keep an eye on Utah blog Block U for more details and developments.
Most of the talk over the past few days had the Mountain West Conference slowing down their expansion plans so that they could survey the wreckage that is the Big 12 and swoop in to possibly pick up some of the leftovers. While the MWC may still be waiting to pounce on some other additions, Joe Schad is now reporting that the conference already knows who the tenth school will be:
You didn't think college football would let the World Cup steal their thunder today did you?
The supposed hard deadline of July 1 which would allow Boise State to leave and presumably join the Mountain West is now being relaxed by the WAC:
Giving up their 2010-2011 could be upwards toward six million dollars if the Broncos make a BCS bowl game as an automatic qualifier, plus the additional financial penalties for leaving the WAC after July 1. This could be good news for the Mountain West who decided against expanding on Monday and is taking a wait and see approach on if or when to invite Boise State.
Boise State is now officially regulated as the backup plan for the Mountain West who is now going in a wait and see mode to see what happens from the Big 10, Big XII, and the Pac-10 in the expansion landscape. Here is the reaction from SB Nation's Boise State blog OBNUG:
After today's non-invite from the Mountain West, I now know how the WAC feels. Boise State played the courtship game with bigger and better conferences for pretty much all of 2010, all the while knowing that the WAC would be waiting with open arms to welcome them back if things didn't turn out. Of course the WAC would. The WAC is Sun Belt West without the Broncos.
And now the same thing is happening to Boise State. The Mountain West has nothing against expanding to ten teams, but with the possibility of bigger and better schools falling like table scraps from BCS conference realignment, the MWC is content to sit back and see what comes their way. If nothing good happens, then they can just give Boise State a ring, and the Broncos will come running at a moment's notice.
With Boise being the bridesmaid in this situation they will jump at the chance to join a league that would increase their revenue to approximately $2.6 million by being in the Mountain West.
So much for the rumors that the Mountain West Conference was on the verge of extending an invitation to everyone's favorite Cinderella, Boise State -- at least for now. According to ESPN's Bruce Feldman, MWC commissioner Craig Thompson has ruled out the league expanding at this time, citing the unsettled college football landscape.
But this hardly means that the MWC isn't eyeing a bold move in the short-term. While Thompson indicated that Boise State's bid "unraveled" in the last 48 hours, the real issue, per their own admission, is that the MWC prefers for any Pac-10/Big 12/Big 10 shakeup to play out -- at which point the MWC would presumably swoop in and try to pick up the leftovers. If the Pac-10 does indeed cannibalize the Big 12, and the Big 10 picks up Missouri and/or Nebraska, this could mean that MWC would be the most geographically natural landing spot for Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Baylor/Colorado (depending on whether the Texas legislature can bully the Pac-10 into taking the ugly stepchild of the Texas Big 12 schools).
Boise State will likely remain in the mix -- Chadd Cripe of Broncos Beat reported that the MWC commissioner said that the "door had not closed" on Boise State joining the conference -- but in the meantime the MWC is trying to position itself to pick up the pieces of a potential Big 12 cataclysm, bolstering their claims that they deserve treatment as a major conference.
The opening salvo in the Great Realignment Battle of 2010 could very well center on Boise State and the Mountain West Conference (MWC). While the Big Ten's efforts to add one, and possibly five, teams, in order to qualify for the cash cow that a conference title game would be have garnered the most attention, the MWC appears to be on the brink of making a preemptive move of its own to brace itself for a brave new college football world.
Much as our own Mountain West Connection predicted, the MWC is reportedly close to inviting Boise State to become the tenth member of the conference, per the Denver Post. Adding a perennial power in Boise State would not only steel the MWC against the possibility of losing some of its own stalwart programs should the PAC-10 try to poach them (Utah and BYU have both been mentioned as potential targets), as well as bolstering their argument that they deserve an automatic BCS bid. Indeed, a MWC that featured Boise State, TCU, Utah and BYU could very reasonably maintain that they boast a stronger football conference than the Big East, and perhaps even the ACC.
The MWC is expected to announce a decision as early as Monday, given that all paperwork needs to be signed by July 1 in order for any new school to qualify for the 2011 football season.
And where do the ostensible little folk fall in this neverending major-conference expansion scenario? SBN's Mountain West Connection says the mid-majors must strike first if they are to compete for eventual automatic-qualifier designation:
My strong opinion is that the Mountain West must be proactive and invite Boise State to have ten teams and be a league that is stronger then the Big East and at least on par with the ACC and Pac-10 in terms of the top teams. The Mountain West may not need to invite Boise State to gain AQ status for the BCS, but it would make the conference stronger with four legit top 25 teams each year, and a few others who will be bowl eligible.
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