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If WVU leaves, C-USA/MWC alliance could be option for Big East

godzilla facepalm

A few weeks ago, commissioners from Conference USA and the Mountain West announced that the two conferences would merge into a 22-member, football-only alliance in an effort to protect membership in the ever-shifting world of college football realignment.

However, the Big East had the potential to slim the non-AQ “superconference” down by as many as five members. Just days before the football agreement, the Big East announced its intentions of expanding to 12 members following the losses of Syracuse and Pitt to the ACC; news that TCU would move on to the Big 12 came later that day. Big East commissioner John Marinatto never directly stated which schools were on the expansion list, the rumor mill churned out names such as Air Force, Boise State, Central Florida, Houston, Navy and SMU. A report surfaced last night from the Houston Chronicle that UH was preparing to make a jump to the Big East.

But the biggest hurdle for Big East expansion has come in the form of raising the conference’s exit fees. Big East presidents have unanimously voted to raise the penalty for departing members to $10 million from $5 million, but Marinatto has stated it will do so once it can add new members.

That was before.

Now that it appears all but signed and sealed that West Virginia will leave the Big East for the Big 12, the conference plucking could be shifting in a way that favors the Big East less, and the C-USA/MWC merger more. Andy Katz reports that  commissioners of the Mountain West Conference, Conference USA and the Big East Conference will meet in New York to discuss a nation-wide football conference that would consist of anywhere between 28-32 teams.

The ultimate goal of forming the super-duper conference would be to gain admission into the BCS (good luck with that).

Such a move by the Big East likely wouldn’t be an option as long as West Virginia and Louisville were part of the conference, especially the former. But if WVU bolts and Boise State chooses not to join the Big East, the five remaining Big East football schools may not have much of a choice. Katz reports that if Louisville remains a member of the Big East, the possibility remains that the league can survive, although its inclusion in the BCS discussion would in serious jeopardy.

C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said on the teleconference earlier this month that the football-only alliance considered adding more than the 22 teams that currently would make up the alliance. Marinatto stated in his own teleconference that he had no intentions of disbanding the Big East. Obviously, that was before news broke that West Virginia could be the latest to wave goodbye.

You can Bet Marinatto will try with great desperation to do everything he can to keep the Big East alive. Considering it just lost its four best members in the process of sitting on its hands, though, it might be too late.

UPDATED 6:24 p.m. ET: Big East spokesman John Paquette tells CBS Sports that Marinatto WILL NOT meet with commissioners from C-USA and the MWC over joining the football-only league.

Again, it appears Marinatto will fight to keep his conference alive to the bitter end, as if we could expect anything else.

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12 Responses to “If WVU leaves, C-USA/MWC alliance could be option for Big East”
  1. deadeye says: Oct 25, 2011 5:49 PM

    The C-USA/MWC alliance needs to join the Big East. That’s the conference with the all-important AQ status. If the Big East dissolves and those orphaned schools join the CUSA/MWC alliance, there is no AQ for any of them.

  2. judge41 says: Oct 25, 2011 5:52 PM

    whether a BCS AQ is in the cards for superconference USA or not, this is probably the only choice for the remaining big east football schools. they can leave all their other sports in the football-less big east and still have a pretty good basketball conference.

  3. tifosi73 says: Oct 25, 2011 6:05 PM

    Seriously, this ultra-super conference should breakaway and form their own division in the NCAA and crown their own national champion.

    Or the BcS conferences should breakaway and form their own version of the NCAA. Which is good since the NCAA is evil.

    Either way both seem more likely than the new mega alliance conference gaining AQ status.

  4. judge41 says: Oct 25, 2011 6:06 PM

    here’s a crazy idea, which may allow this 28 team superconference to keep its AQ bid: English soccer-style promotion and relegation. hear me out. the best 12 or so teams play in the big conference, the rest in the little conference. each year, the best little team graduates to the big league, replacing the worst team. the little league championship game could be a play-in for promotion the following year.

    this would ensure a higher-quality schedule for the big league, the champion of which would in theory be worthy of a BCS bid. this system would also reward ascendant programs (like TCU, Boise St) based on their performance, not on their TV market size.

  5. vanmorrissey says: Oct 25, 2011 6:28 PM

    Hey, judge41, kind of liking that idea adapted from soccer. Makes it interesting for sure, yea, kind of liking that. Its a way to deal with the megaconference since it a matter of survival. Or the best two go up, worst two go down.

  6. judge41 says: Oct 25, 2011 6:31 PM

    cheers. and it can only really work for a football-only conference, which can afford the travel. you don’t want to be yanking around the non revenue sports.

  7. thefiesty1 says: Oct 25, 2011 6:37 PM

    Ok, fine. Then put ALL of them in a separate Division (where the majority of them belong). they could then have their own playoff just like Division II. No BcS for any of them, who would like to see a BcS game featuring a Rutgers, Nevada, Tulane, Memphis, SMU. I could go on a list most of the other 25-32 teams that this ridiculous super conference would consist of.

    When you don’t have the fan base, the facilities and the $$$, then you don’t have much choice. Sorry, folks, that’s the way it is.

  8. jimwinfield says: Oct 25, 2011 8:01 PM

    Nice idea on the Promo and Relegation… I post that on the ESPN board about two weeks ago and basically got laughed at. I think in order two keep things interesting, you have to have more then one team being p/r. The top two from you “little league” would replace the bottom two from the “big league” on a yearly basis. With the idea of keeping fans glued to the tv during bad seasons in hopes that the season inst completely bad enough to be eliminated from next years chance at a Bowl game. While this would be cool, NY TIMES is reporting that the super conference between CUSA MW and the Big East is not true and been denied by Big East commissionaire. It also says that Big East still working on expansion with targeted teams. ECU comes back into the fold if they lose WVU.

  9. irishjackmp says: Oct 25, 2011 8:57 PM

    I’m not a Big East hater but they are embarassing themselves at this point. The conference up until today had a slim chance of keeping their AQ status but I think it’s safe to say that ends with WVU leaving. This whole “let’s have a Big East/MW/CUSA superconference” to save the AQ is simply absurd. Adding more mediocre teams doesn’t make you “super”.

    From everything I have read, it does look like the CUSA schools getting a BE invite could go next year so why prolong the inevitable and keep Pitt/WVU/Syracuse around for 27 months? Just get on with the realignment already.

    Making them stay for the 27 months when everyone knows the conference is dead just makes them look like a guy holding on to his wife’s ankles begging her to stay after she tries to leave him.

    Show some dignity, it’s over… accept it.

  10. mogogo1 says: Oct 25, 2011 10:46 PM

    No surprise that the $10 million exit fee is keeping teams from joining the Big East. That was so very predictable that it’s amazing anybody signed off on the idea.

    Crazier still is that not only does it keep new schools away, it wouldn’t really keep desirable schools from leaving. I’m assuming West Virginia will only be on the hook for $5 million, but regardless, let’s say they told the Big 12 they couldn’t afford the exit fee. If the Big 12 really wanted them, they’d have a zero interest loan drawn up in 10 minutes to be paid back over a few years out of WV’s share of the Big 12 TV deal. And there’d be nothing the Big East could do to prevent that.

  11. atl14dat says: Oct 26, 2011 12:24 AM

    Big East go back to your roots. A basketball Conference Only.

    Your level of play in football has always been abysmal.
    The AQ Status bestowed was/is a testament to the shrewd Political skills of Mike Trangeshee.

    Nothing on the field ever warranted AQ status.

    Let it go. It’s over

  12. sgregthompson says: Oct 30, 2011 1:52 PM

    You mean something like this…?

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