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Story Archives: Changes continues in college football
|Changes continues in college football|
The package arrived on my desk in April of 1995.
Upon opening it I found a gray shirt with Conference USA scripted out on the front in red, white and blue.
I was thinking it was kind of cheesy at the time, but I was intrigued.
The league's charter members included Charlotte, Cincinnati, DePaul, Houston, Louisville, Marquette, Memphis, Saint Louis, Southern Miss, Tulane, UAB and USF. Eleven of the institutions began athletic participation in 1995, while Houston joined competition in the fall of 1996.
Obviously, the league was strong in basketball, but well represented in baseball with Southern Miss, Houston and Tulane.
Those three were mostly responsible for 49 NCAA appearances, six College World Series appearances, including five of the last six, 13 Super Regional appearances and has produced at least four NCAA teams in seven of the last nine seasons.
Football made long strides over the next few years and C-USA members began giving the conference some credibility with 62 teams earning bowl bids and bowl tie-ins with the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl, Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, Military Bowl, R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl and the TicketCity Bowl.
The only fault I had with the conference is not seriously going after Louisiana Tech, but I always felt former Southern Miss athletic director Richard Giannini did not want to happen. Giannini left ULM as AD to take the athletics director job at Southern Miss. Seems he took the ULM-Tech rivalry with him to Hattiesburg.
So, if I was intrigued by C-USA, I am even more intrigued by C-USA and Mountain West announcing they will merge. OK, they did not use that word (sorry guys, that's what it is).
Sure, some folks think it is a move out of desperation. C-USA lost Memphis, Houston, SMU and Central Florida.
No matter the reason, who would have thought Conference USA would be involved in the first Super Conference (at least in terms of volume)?
The Conference USA-Mountain West Conference league that will emerge in 2013 is slated right now to have 15 teams (16 in football), but the larger hope is that it will expand to 18-24 teams eventually.
That's where Louisiana Tech moves to the head of the class. It would be a great fit for the new conference and for Tech. And Giannini is no longer at USM.
The Big East has plucked six teams from Conference USA and the Mountain West to offset the defections of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, TCU and West Virginia.
The Big East already was working toward football expansion to correct a scheduling imbalance when it lost four football-playing members.
C-USA schools UCF, Houston, Memphis and SMU are scheduled to join the Big East in all sports in 2013.
Mountain West schools San Diego State and Boise State will be joining the league in football only in 2013.
Independent school Navy also will be joining the Big East in football only in 2015.
Besides the obvious, the most intriguing part is the fact the new league is looking at a championship game and semifinal match-ups.
It's a novel concept and one that a league, which could possibly contain 24 schools, should push.
It has to be approved by the NCAA, and if these folks want to continue coming off as the bad guys, they will snuff it out. I think the NCAA needs to start waving a white flag when it comes to dictating what schools and conferences can do.
Because of the number of teams, the league would feature four divisions of six teams.
Based on geography, those division could contain teams from East, Central, South, and West, hoping to help cut travel costs for some teams.
Tech fans can only be thrilled with the possibility of joining the new league. Being in the same conference with RIce, Southern Miss, Tulane and Alabama-Birmingham makes away games easier for Bulldog fans to attend and new rivalries will add more flavor to the schedule.
Each team would play a 12-game schedule with the final game of the regular season left open to schedule the semifinal matchups.
The remaining teams would play each other in some sort of format.
The winners, of course, would play each other in a championship.
What a concept!
Leave it to the little guys to step up to the plate.
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