The Mountain West Conference and Conference USA will combine their football schools to become a yet to be named college football super conference. The new conference will have a massive 22 schools, and may go into affect as early as 2012, this according to an announcement made yesterday by representatives of both conferences.
The new super conference will spread far and wide across the nation, having schools placed in it from all over the nation. To put it in perspective, six-time zones and 4,735-miles will be covered throughout the conference.
C-USA currently has 12 teams spread from Mountain to Eastern time zones, including Orlando, Fla.-based Central Florida and Huntington, W.Va.-based Marshall University, and the MWC will have 10 members spread from Hawaii to the Rockies in 2012.
While the merger has been more than a year in the making, its announcement comes amid the rapidly changing realignment of conferences, and is, in part, an attempt by the MWC and C-USA to retain members who are currently exploring moves.
Another main goal of the move is to gain an automatic bid into the BCS bowl games, instead of having to rely on an at-large bid. While no contact has been officially made with BCS representatives regarding this possibility, it is definitely on the top of the “to do” list for the new conference.
“The role of a conference is to provide its members with the best possible environment in which to conduct their intercollegiate athletics programs,” said Craig Thompson, MWC commissioner. “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.”
There have been so many uncertainties in college football conferences over the past couple of years. With teams leaving and coming like musical chairs, every school is looking for a better situation. Just a couple of days ago the Big East invited 5 schools to be a part of their conference, of those, Boise State and SMU were a part of the invites. Both those schools, along with Air Force are expected to decline.
As stated above, neither of the current conferences receives an automatic berth in the lucrative Bowl Championship Series for its champion, and the TV rights for the two conferences lag far behind those of marquee leagues. MWC teams receive approximately $1.5 million each annually from TV rights but have been told by consultants that those payments could increase with a merger, officials have acknowledged.
“I think what we have created here is a new inventory opportunity and really unique programming opportunity for our (TV) partners,” said Britton Banowsky, C-USA commissioner.
Thompson said, “There’s no indication (the merger) means a guaranteed automatic bid (to the BCS) and there is no indication that it doesn’t.” He said he plans to explore the concept with BCS officials next month.
Whatever happens this should be interesting. Also, Hawaii will be part of this huge conference, but it is so big that travel is going to be crazy. What else does this mean for the University of Hawaii football program? Read more about that now.
Mountain West Teams
Air Force Academy
San Diego State
Fresno State **
Conference USA Teams
* Leaves for the Big 12 in 2012
** Joins the Mountain West Conference in 2012