Blog Entry

CUSA, MWC could "dissolve," form new league

Posted on: January 15, 2012 12:47 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2012 1:04 pm

One option being considered Sunday by two conferences' CEOs is to "dissolve" Conference USA and the Mountain West before forming a new league, learned.

The move could have ramifications on current TV deals and put the new "Big Country" -- let's call it -- in line ahead of the Big East for a new TV rights deal. Dissolving both leagues could conceivably alter current TV deals in place with the MWC and CUSA and make the Big Country a new entity to be bid on by TV rightsholders.

The Big East is attempting to survive by realigning prior to the end of its current TV deal in 2013-14. The Big East and Big Ten (after 2014-15) are next in line to cash in with rightsholders. In figures obtained by, a 12-team Big East configured for debut in 2013, would be significantly ahead of a merged CUSA/MWC in terms of average BCS computer ranking.

A year ago, Conference USA signed a $43 mlllion deal with Fox to broadcast a mininmum of 20 football games per year including the league's title game through the 2015 season. At the time ESPN protested saying it believed it had the right of first refusal on such a deal with Conference USA. reported Thursday that the two leagues' presidents would meet Sunday in Dallas to discuss forming a new league. Beginning in 2013 the "Big Country" would have 17 teams. There has been discussion whether to stay at that number or possibly add a team or teams. The new league could be football only, all sports or some other consolidation. 

With the assumed end of automatic qualifying conferences in the BCS, the rush is on to simply become as attractive as possible to TV rightsholders. One of the advantages of a combined MWC/CUSA league is strength in numbers. Seventeen (or more) schools would fortify the new league against departures if it was raided in the future.

A 17-team league (at least) would be the largest conference in FBS (formally Division I-A). That would mean a lot of inventory for a rightholder(s) with teams in 14 states extending over five time zones.  

According to a source, the five current non-automatic qualifying conferences distribute BCS money based on a performance-based ranking system. Half of the money received from the BCS is split evenly among the five. The other half is split based on the ranking. For the first time in six years, the Mountain West was not the leader of those five (MWC, CUSA, MAC, Sun Belt, WAC). CUSA was No. 1 in 2011.

Previously, the Mountain West had applied for a waiver to the BCS presidents that would allow it to temporarily become a BCS conference in 2012 and 2013. MWC commissioner Craig Thompson told last week, "I'm not overly optimistic."

According to the figures mentioned above, the average computer ranking for the projected 17 "Big Country" schools in 2011 was 86.18. That ranges from a high of 21.83 for Southern Miss and a low of 117.33 for New Mexico. The Big East average of 53.8 ranges from a high of 10.67 for Boise State to 89.5 for Central Florida.

The figures are based on this 12-team Big East projection:

Boise State
Central Florida
San Diego State
South Florida


Since: Jan 16, 2010
Posted on: January 23, 2012 5:42 pm

CUSA, MWC could "dissolve," form new league

Before we became an INDY in football we were in the Southern Conference. We left because of football and outgrew it in other sports. While we remained an Indy in football we joined the CAA in the early 80's. Since our basketball program has always been lousy it was a good league for us just as I think the A10 could be.

Our baseball program has had like 2 loosing seasons in 60plus years. The goal of the school has been get this program to the College Worlds Series. I know we can schedule plenty of teams to challege us with this as we regularly play UNC, State, Wake, USC, Coastal, and UVA. In addition we usually play the likes of Cal Fullerton, Pepperdine, and UCLA. Its rare when we miss out on the tournament. I would rather use the savings in travel expenses to prop up our non revenue programs while we try to grow the football revenue by playing against the best at large venues. By growing our football program the rest of the programs will soon follow. I think Tech has made great strides in some of their non revenue sports programs because the football team helped to put the school on the map.

Since: Sep 15, 2010
Posted on: January 23, 2012 12:55 pm

CUSA, MWC could "dissolve," form new league

I understand your reasoning for wanting to play schools closer to home.  However, conferences don't allow schools a la carte their sports, so ECU would have to pick a conference.  Richmond, GW, and Charlotte are all members of the A-10.  Whereas VCU, JMU, GMU, ODU, Georgia St, W&M, and UNC-W are members of the CAA.  If ECU is considering joining the A-10 then it would have to ask itself if playing St. Bonnaventure or Rhode Island offer more benefit than playing in CUSA?  If ECU is considering the possibility of rejoining the CAA then does playing Hofstra or Northeastern offer more benefit than playing in CUSA? 

ECU could decide to join the Southern Conference, but then it would be stuck playing schools like App St, VMI, Western Carolina, Davidson, Elon, and Furman.  Another possibility is ECU could join the Big South Conference, but then they would be stuck playing schools like Liberty, Radford, High Point, Campbell, Coll. of Charleston, or Coastal Carolina.  I don't think there is a school out there that competes as an Independent for all sports, so I don't see ECU trying to pull that off.  Even though it may stink having to travel to El Paso to play a game, it appears to be a better alternative than what the other "nearby" conference have to offer.

Since: Jan 16, 2010
Posted on: January 21, 2012 12:05 pm

CUSA, MWC could "dissolve," form new league

Most of the issues I have with CUSA is the fact that these schools are so far apart. When you have a limited supply of cash can you afford to send your womens volleyball team 1,800 miles away to play UTEP? CUSA does have some nice basketball programs but the appeal is not that strong to help us with recruiting for our hoops squad. There are plenty of good teams closer to home like VCU Richmond, GMU, GW, UNC W, UNCC, ODU, that would provide plenty of quality competition without having to go to Texas.

Our baseball team has been the strength of our athletic program and I would say the strength of CUSA. I would think if we leave CUSA it would hurt some with that however we are located in the south and there are plenty of programs in cooler climates that are looking for games early in the season so it might hurt slightly but not much. As for the rest of the sports we do play plenty of the in state schools or programs that we have more in common with and are closer to home compared to a Rice or Tulane.

I dont think it does our football program any good playing before 15,000 fans that you get at UAB, Memphis, Tulane and Rice. Southern Miss, Marshall, and Tulsa seem to be the best programs in the conference however Southern Miss is the only school to draw over 30,000. I think we could gain more exposure and most importantally more money playing bigger aq programs closer to home. I think there will be plenty of teams looking for games and since we draw well Im sure we would be on the short list of programs for the 2nd tier bowl games.

Since: Sep 15, 2010
Posted on: January 20, 2012 9:51 pm

CUSA, MWC could "dissolve," form new league


You are correct about Holland.  I do think he is a great AD for either most DI-A schools that are well establish (i.e. BCS schools), DI-AA, DI-AAA (non-football schools), DII, or DIII.  I do not think he is the right fit for a DI-A school looking to become a BCS school.  He is 69 right now, so he will probably stick around 3-5 more years, which may be fine for ECU given the state of flux among the conferences.  When Holland decides to retire then it would be the perfect time to look to higher an Associate AD or other junior athletic administrator from a SEC school.  The appeal that ECU offers is an opportunity for the associate AD's to prove they are qualified to become an AD at a bigger school.  The advantage of hiring someone from a SEC school is he/she will know the politics of the SEC and can position ECU to where it becomes more appealing to a conference.  It is this reason I don't think you can completely rule ECU out of joining a BCS conference.

There are pros and cons with going Independent in football.  Where would ECU play its other sports? the CAA? the Southern? the A-10?  The A-10 might not be so bad since Charlotte and Richmond are current members.  However, ECU should realize that there are schools (i.e. App St, Georgia St, JMU, Georgia So, Charlotte, etc) that would quickly be willing to take ECU's place.  Is ECU willing to sacrifice its other programs so football may be able to take 1 step forward?  I cannot say if it is the right or wrong move to make, but it is something ECU must be willing to accept whatever fate if it goes down that path.  

Since: Jan 16, 2010
Posted on: January 20, 2012 1:47 pm

CUSA, MWC could "dissolve," form new league

VT 77

TH has done wonderful things for our school and he would be a welcome addition to any program. That being said we didnt need a nice a guy and an ambassador of goodwill, we needed someone to get down in the mud and make the BCS thing happen. It cost the guy his job at UCF but like I said before who will remember the corruption.

If the system remains the same UCF will be funded like a D1 program and you will see their games on TV more frequently. The money generated can attract and more importantally maintain their coaching staff. Greater funding can be put into recruiting and thus attract better talent than they could by remaining in CUSA. Here we sit with all the elements inplace with the exception of the most important piece and thats revenue.

The correct thing for the Hokies to do would be hand the job to Foster. My hopes were that after Skip left here that he might consider taking our position thus making our program more attractive to the College Football World. I however could see the frustration level of the fans and alumni not getting the program completely over the finish line and start on a new course. I think it would take a new AD to get rid of Foster.

As for us I think we are stuck. I dont see TH leaving and at this point I dont see where another AD could get us. Our best hope is that we see the end of the AQ however IMO that is only going to widen the gap further. There are plenty of bad D1 AQ programs that make plenty of money doing nothing. I think their graveytraining days might be ending. I would rather see us bail on CUSA and play a national schedule against the best of what the NCAA has to offer. It would give us greater exposure and more money. In addition you get better by playing better competition. It should also help in recruiting.  Id rather go 4-8 plaing a better scghedule than 8-4 playing the Uteps and Tulanes of the world.

Since: Sep 15, 2010
Posted on: January 20, 2012 12:19 pm

CUSA, MWC could "dissolve," form new league


I never said Terry Holland was not a class act or a bad choice for ECU to select as its AD.  He was a class act when he was head coach at UVA.  The only reason I suggested ECU might want to look outside for an AD is based on your comment about UNC and NC State trying to keep ECU down with the help of the state government.  I do know that UVA and UNC have a close working relationship, which I believe Terry Holland would have made a lot of connections with UNC people during his time at UVA.  Base on your comment that ECU leadership might be playing too nice, it stands to reason that part of the "niceness" from the AD may stem from the bridges he built during his time at UVA.  Then again it may simply be his personality.  Either way if ECU ever wants to get respect within the state politics then it will have to stand up for itself and demand it.  Until that happens then UNC and NC State will continue to walk over ECU, which ultimately places ECU in a catch-22 situation.

You may be right that Foster may not be hired as Beamer's replacement.  I do think there is already a succession plan in place, which suggests that Foster is the most logical replacement to a "legend."  If the AD role is filled within house then you should see the succession plan implemented.  If the AD role is filled by an outsider then it is up in the air as to who will replace Beamer.  An outsider for AD may be the only way VT does what is necessary to take VT to the next level.  Currently, most of the financial support comes from "old money," when people remember how bad the program was in the 60's and 70's.  As long as they are the main source of financial support then it will be business as usual.  Once the "new money" start to become the dominating force then you should start to see more pressure to perform well (win more) in marquee games.  There are pros and cons for a program to get to that level, but if a program wants to continue to grow then it will inevitably have to cross that bridge. 

The interesting thing will be to see what happens to Lane Stadium.  I suspect there will be another expansion in the North Endzone that may mirror the configuration of the South Endzone.  The only problem will be that it would cut into the outdoor practice field.  It will have to be a stand alone like the other three sides for building code reasons.  Since Lane Stadium was constructed in phases, each phase is subject to a different building code.  Once two sides are connected then both sides would be subject to the currect building code, which could cost the school additional millions to upgrade.  This will be the main reason why you will never see Lane Stadium turn into a bowl configuration and capping at roughly 76,000, unless it gets a multi-million dollar donation to help cover those additional costs.  If VT ever wants to have a stadium over 80,000 then it would need to either build a brand new stadium or pony up the extra cash to bring everything up to code.

Since: Jan 16, 2010
Posted on: January 20, 2012 10:54 am

CUSA, MWC could "dissolve," form new league


Terry Holland is a class act and done just about everything you could want as an AD. First we expanded our Football stadium with another expansion on the way. We totally rebuilt our baseball and softball facilities both programs are among the top 25 year in and year out. In addition we rebuilt our soccer and olympic sports facilities, and now are building a new basketball practice center. In other words everything has been torn down and redone under TH.

I remember several years ago we were the 1st team to play you after the shootings. It was TH that started a fund on VTs behalf and he presented the school with a check for over 100k on before kickoff. VT has put together one of the best game day experiences around and under TH ours has become pretty special as well and its done in a classy way.

Everything TH has done has been 1st rate with one exception GET OUR PROGRAM INTO A BCS LEAGUE. IMO this had to be the central focus of his position from day 1, without the money that comes with it you cant compete. The AD at UCF spoke openly about this, how UCF belonged and should be in a BCS conference despite their lack of history and poor resume. in the end he won out. The guy cheated to get the job done and was fired but who is going to remember that 2 years from now UCF is in the Big East and will be getting more exposure and most importantally more cash.

With your Bud Foster comments you are making my point. Think back to when both of our programs were trying to get to a better place. Tech wasnt that much better off than ourselves now your talking about 10 win streaks, several ACC championships and the BCS Bowls that come with it, not to mention the money. Is VT as good as USC, OU, OSU, or the power schools at the SEC? IMO no but they are pretty close and I agree you need to recruit on a national level to put you over the top.

I think Beamer has taken the program as far as he can which is not a bad place. In addition when he does retire I dont think they will hire Foster as his replacement. You guys should be thankful for what you have guys that have been loyal and made your program into something. Im sitting here dreaming of our matchup against Utah State and MWC teams whoever they might be.

Since: Sep 15, 2010
Posted on: January 19, 2012 11:00 pm

CUSA, MWC could "dissolve," form new league


I don't disagree with what you are saying.  You can blame the leadership for playing too nice with the other Carolina schools.  I suspect Terry Holland was hired as AD because of his ties to the ACC when he was the head coach of the UVA men's basketball team.  The only problem with that is UVA and UNC have a long history of working closely with each other, so odds are good that former employees of those schools will probably try to not burn any bridges in their new jobs.  I can understand hiring Terry Holland if ECU was thinking that by hiring him that it might increase ECU's chances of getting into the ACC (assuming a school or two left the conference).  ECU might want to consider making a change in the near future.  ECU could taret an associate AD at an SEC school and get a fresh perspective on what it will take for the whole athletic program to advance to the next level.

You are correct about Bud Foster.  However, I see pros and cons for keeping him around.  The pros are he is a good coordinator, gets the most out of the talent level, and his defense has allowed the program to continue VT's 10-win streak.  The cons are his defensive scheme struggles against passing teams/good passing QBs, mirror reflection of Beamer in terms of recruiting philosophy, and teams with talent has started to somewhat figure out his scheme.  The reason I put recruiting philosophy as a con is because Beamer is content with recruiting regionally instead of doing what it takes to become elite.  When I think of an elite school, I think of a school that recruits from more than 3-5 states.  If VT does not start winning games against marquee schools then people will starting asking, "has Beamer taken the program as far as he could?" or "has Beamer plateaued as a coach?"  Beamer and Weaver will probably stick around for 3-5 more years before they retire.  Everyone thinks that Foster will take over when Beamer decides to retire, but if an outsider is hired as the AD before Beamer retires then that may not be the case.   

Since: Jan 16, 2010
Posted on: January 19, 2012 7:20 pm

CUSA, MWC could "dissolve," form new league

Makes too much sense to me John. What better way to stick it to the folks that destroyed your conference then to prop up a program in their own backyard. So how to the Big East officials get even? go across the country and invite teams that dont draw 30,000. Im sure the networks cant bid high enough for that package.

Since: Sep 5, 2011
Posted on: January 19, 2012 5:29 pm

CUSA, MWC could "dissolve," form new league

The Big East not allowing East Carolina to join was yet another example of their total lack of leadership.

At one time, ECU was willing to forgo any conference payments to get in.

ECU has a great fan base and is located in the middle of ACC country.  What better way to stick it to a rival, than tp play games in their backyard?

Letting ECU joined just made too much sense for the BE leadership to embrace the concept.

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