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Tag:East Carolina
Posted on: February 13, 2012 2:15 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 6:20 am
 

C-USA, MWC dissolving to form new league

The institutions from Conference USA and the Mountain West are dissolving both leagues to create their own conference, college football industry sources told CBSSports.com.

The new conference will consist of 18 to 24 members and start in the 2013-14 academic year. It would not only have a conference championship football game, but also conference semifinals. Conference USA and the Mountain West would continue as is for the 2012-13 season.

The reason that the institutions are dissolving and forming their own league and not just merging is for legal reasons, sources said.

"This presidentially 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," said a statement from UNLV president Neal Smatresk and Tulane president Scott Cowen.

"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," Smatresk said. "This partnership brings together like-minded institutions to improve the integrity and stability of intercollegiate athletics. 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."

The structure of the new conference, Smatresk and Cowen's statement said, will have a "national scope from the Atlantic Seaboard to Hawaii, regular season scheduling in divisions, NCAA FBS affiliation and mechanisms to emphasize and improve academic standards and fiscal responsibility."

The presidents and chancellors will have follow-up meetings during the next six months to fully develop the operational issues essential to the formation of the association.

The new league -- which is yet to be named -- is expected to consist of  Southern Miss, Marshall, East Carolina, UAB, Tulsa, Rice, UTEP and Tulane from C-USA and Wyoming, Air Force, Colorado State, UNLV, New Mexico, Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii from the MWC. Hawaii would be a football-only member.

Temple also is a possibility. The school was contacted by Conference USA, sources told CBSSports.com, when the Big East last week opted to invited Memphis instead of Temple.

CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd first reported last month about the possibility of the leagues dissolving and forming their own league.

Both leagues have suffered significant losses. BYU went independent last season, while TCU is leaving for the Big 12 and Boise State and San Diego State are leaving for the Big East, with Boise State possibly joining the Big East this summer. C-USA also lost Houston, UCF, SMU and Memphis to the Big East, starting in 2013.


Posted on: February 8, 2012 10:50 am
 

C-USA contacts Temple; MWC merger changes weekly

After Memphis’ decision to leave for the Big East on Tuesday, Conference USA officials immediately contacted Temple to gauge the Owls’ interest in moving from the Mid-American Conference to C-USA, college football industry sources told CBSSports.com.

Temple thought it would receive the Big East’s invitation and was stunned the Big East invited Memphis. The Owls were former Big East members before getting dismissed from the league in 2004. Temple has been a member of the MAC since 2007 and in the past three seasons has a 26-12 record under former coach Al Golden and current coach Steve Addazio.

It’s unknown if the Owls would welcome a move to C-USA since there’s still the possibility the Big East could have more future openings if the Big 12 expands to 11 and takes Louisville. If that happens, Temple would be back on the Big East’s radar.

The future of Conference USA is also unknown. C-USA and the Mountain West are considering a merger or will dissolve the two leagues into one. With Memphis gone, will the leagues still combine or decide its better to go at it alone? One source said the possibility of the C-USA/MWC merger “changes weekly.”

If C-USA and the MWC did combine as an all-sports league it would consist of: Southern Miss, Marshall, East Carolina, UAB, Tulsa, Rice, UTEP and Tulane from C-USA and Wyoming, Air Force, Colorado State, UNLV, New Mexico, Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii from the MWC. Hawaii would be a football-only member, making a 15-team all-sports conference and a 16-team football conference, not including Temple.

The benefits of the combined league, sources say, would be stability, increased potential television revenue and the additional exposure across the country in new markets. They also would be able to conduct a conference championship game in football. C-USA currently has a championship game, the Mountain West doesn’t.

If the leagues decide to remain as they are could they survive with all of the defections? The Mountain West will be losing TCU, Boise State and San Diego State, while C-USA will lose Houston, UCF, SMU and Memphis. The television revenue for each league would not be as substantial.

As unwieldy as a 15- or 16-team all-sports league stretched across the country may seem, it still likely would provide more long-term stability – at least until one of the current BCS AQ conferences decides to expand again and the dominoes continue to trickle down to the MWC and C-USA.

So does Temple join forces with C-USA or hold out hope for a Big East invite? Does C-USA combine with the Mountain West? We’ll have to wait and see, but the fact that in 2013 seven of the Big East’s 11 football members are former C-USA members (Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida, Houston, Memphis, UCF and SMU) was not lost on one college football industry source.

“Perhaps the Big East can save time and take the rest of Conference USA’s teams,” quipped the source. “Then take C-USA’s name and divide the league into Red, White and Blue Divisions (as the league once had in the 1990s).”
Posted on: December 7, 2011 4:41 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 6:03 pm
 

C-USA, Mountain West all-sports merger on horizon

NEW YORK – With the Mountain West and Conference USA losing at least five members to the Big East, those two leagues are now looking at an all-sports merger instead of a full-scale football expansion as originally planned, sources told CBSSports.com.

Conference USA and the Mountain West initially planned to combine into a separate football-only league with between 20 and 24 members and conducted an Oct. 15 press conference to announce the news. The winners from C-USA and the Mountain West would meet in a playoff with, they hoped, the winner earning a BCS bowl berth.

A BCS bowl berth, however, would have had to be approved by the BCS.

However, that plan has lost steam by the loss of Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, SMU and UCF to the Big East. Instead, C-USA and the Mountain West are considering a merger in all sports. Sources have indicated that Craig Thompson, the current commissioner of the Mountain West, would become the commissioner of the new merged league, while Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky would step down.

A vote on the merger could come by next month, sources said.

The merged league would consist of: East Carolina, Marshall, Memphis, Rice, Southern Miss, Tulane, Tulsa, UAB and UTEP from C-USA and Air Force, Colorado State, New Mexico, UNLV and Wyoming from the Mountain West along with new members Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada for a 17-team conference. Air Force was being sought after by the Big East, but the Gazette reported Tuesday evening that the Falcons would remain in the Mountain West.

After the initial merger announcement to as many as 24 schools on Oct. 15, Banowsky e-mailed officials at Conference USA and the Mountain West a week later about a proposed new conference, entitled “BCS and The Big East Expansion (An Alternative Plan).”

“Attached is a document that might find of interest regarding conference realignment,” Banowsky wrote on the e-mail, obtained by CBSSports.com.

That eight-page document presented two possible conferences mergers: one with 28 teams and another with 32 teams. They included all the Big East, Conference USA and Mountain West teams, plus a few other teams from other leagues. The plan was never endorsed by the Big East and didn’t get much further than being reported by various media outlets.

To combat the departures of the five schools, the Mountain West had decided to add San Jose State and Utah State. But adding those schools has now been put on hold, sources said.

Posted on: October 10, 2011 12:42 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 12:51 pm
 

Big East wants 12 members, but who will it get?

Big East presidents and chancellors Monday authorized Big East commissioner John Marinatto “to engage in formal discussions with additional institutions and are considering moving to a model that includes 12 football playing schools.”

Now the question is: what schools will make up those 12?

With TCU gone before it even got here and Pittsburgh and Syracuse headed to the ACC in 2014 (and they hope even earlier than that), that leaves six football members – Cincinnati, UConn, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida and West Virginia.

For now.

That number could reduce further if Missouri goes to the SEC. Louisville and West Virginia is considered the strongest candidates for the Big 12 now that BYU apparently is no longer as highly regarded by the Big 12.

Navy, Air Force and Army remain the prime targets of the Big East as football only members. However, with the news that the Big East is pursuing 12 football schools, if the league went to a nine-game league schedule, that actually might not be an attractive option for the academies having only three non-conference games.

Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk told CBSSports.com Monday the Midshipmen continue to monitor the Big East and that joining the league remains an option.

Other Big East targets are Temple, of the Mid-American Conference, and a number of Conference USA schools headed by Central Florida and East Carolina.

The Newark Star-Ledger reported Sunday that Boise State was a possibility as a football-only member. Last month in a Big East presidents meeting, the Broncos were brought up as an expansion candidate, but the consensus was the school was too far away and there were concerns with their recent NCAA issues, a source said.

However, that was before TCU announced it received a Big 12 invitation, which the Horned Frogs will formally accept Monday night. Does that mean the Big East is warming to Boise State - or that desparate for members?

As far as any problems in having a 12-team football conference and a resulting basketball membership of up to 20 schools, a league source told me the size of the basketball membership is not a concern.

“You can have 50 teams in basketball (in the conference),” the source said. “It doesn't matter. That's why they have the NCAA tournament.”

The reality for the Big East is, other than continuing to pursue the academies, it must wait to see what happens with Missouri and the Big 12/SEC and the resulting dominos before proceeding further.

During Monday’s teleconference, the presidents were “still discussing appropriate figures” for increased withdrawal fees, an individual on the call told CBSSports.com.

The withdrawal fee is currently $5 million and a school must provide 27 months notice.

Last month Marinatto told CBSSports.com that the league will not allow Syracuse and Pitt to leave before their 27-month withdrawal requirement expires, keeping them in Big East until June 30, 2014.

On Saturday, Air Force athletic director Hans Mueh told the Denver Post “our interest is high in the Big East. That's fair to say. This stuff is moving fast.”

Air Force has to decide whether to remain in a comfortable situation in the Mountain West or leave for an uncertain future in the Big East, once an automatic qualifying BCS league that may or may not still be an AQ BCS conference when the new BCS cycle begins before the 2014 season.

Even with the league holding a second conference call in four days among officials from representative from the remaining Big East schools, there wasn’t much accomplished said one frustrated individual on the call.

“Nothing accomplished,” he said.

Posted on: August 22, 2011 11:08 pm
Edited on: August 22, 2011 11:12 pm
 

C-USA QBs causing some sleepless nights

Defensive coordinators John Skladany of UCF and Andre Patterson of UTEP might want to get some extra shut eye in the next two weeks. Because once the season starts, they’ll be having their share of sleepless nights.

Conference USA returns a national-best four quarterbacks that threw for at least 3,000 yards last season – East Carolina’s Dominique Davis, Southern Miss’ Austin Davis, Tulsa’s G.J. Kinne and SMU’s Kyle Padron.

UCF and UTEP each have to face those four quarterbacks this fall – and it’s even worse for Patterson’s UTEP club, who also has to play Houston and likely NCAA record holder Case Keenum, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility.

“I think four or five years from now, people will look back and say ‘Wow, all those guys came out of that league,’ ” Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora said.

Nine of C-USA’s 12 schools return their starting quarterbacks. Besides Keenum, Dominique Davis (3,967 yards passing, 37 TDs), Padron (3,828, 31 TDs), Kinne (3,650 yards, 31 TDs) and Austin Davis (3,103, 20 TDs), other returnees include UAB’s Bryan Ellis (2,940 yards, 25 TDs), UCF’s Jeff Godfrey (2,159 yards, 13 TDs) and Tulane’s Ryan Griffin (2,371, 14 TDs).

“The non-BCS schools have to play ‘up’ in non-conference games so you better be doing something a little bit different and take some chances in games with schemes or you’re going to have a tough time winning all four non-conference games,” SMU coach June Jones said. “The quarterbacks are benefiting. They’re spreading the field and doing something different and each team has their own mark.”

C-USA also returns a national-best six quarterbacks who threw 20 or more touchdowns last season.

“They’re all so versatile and they’re also great leaders,” East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeil said. “Which is not easier said than done.”

Even without Keenum last year, C-USA still had seven of the nation’s top 40 quarterbacks in passing yards per game, including four of the top 18.

“It’s an offensive league,” UTEP coach Mike Price said. “But you’re going to win it on defense if you can just slow some people down.”

All of the league’s offensive firepower has taken a huge toll on C-USA defenses. Last year, seven league teams ranked among the nation’s 27 worst defenses in passing yards allowed.

“If you don’t like going against the best [quarterbacks], then you’re not one to be in this conference,” UCF defensive end Darius Nall said.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com