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MWC, C-USA to dissolve, form one conference


Back in October, in the midst of Conference Apocalypse v.2.0, the Mountain West and Conference USA announced it was forming a football-only association — not a merger — that would’ve consisted of 22 schools for the 2012.

Since then, Boise State and San Diego State have announced they are leaving the Mountain West for the Big East in 2013, as did Conference USA members Houston, Memphis, UCF and SMU.

A byproduct of that attrition, in part, will reportedly be the two conferences engaging in what walks, talks and smells like a full-blown merger.

According to Brett McMurphy of, the MWC and C-USA will dissolve as separate entities and merge all sports into a single conference.  The merger would take effect beginning with the 2013 season.

Citing college football industry sources, McMurphy writes that “[t]he reason that the institutions are dissolving and forming their own league is for legal reasons.”  What those legal reasons are was not detailed.

In a statement released by the MWC subsequent to McMurphy’s report, UNLV president Neal Smatresk confirmed the report but did not use the word merger; rather, the press release describes it as “forming a new intercollegiate athletic association.”  Regardless of what it’s technically viewed as, it will result in one conference spread from coast-to-coast across the United States and into the Pacific.

“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.  This partnership brings together like-minded institutions to improve the integrity and stability of intercollegiate athletics,” said UNLV President Neal Smatresk. “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.”

With the losses of members from both conferences for the 2012 season, and with the MWC’s addition of three WAC schools in 2012, the yet-to-be named conference will consist of 16 football-playing members — eight from each league:

Air Force (MWC)
Colorado State (MWC)
East Carolina (C-USA)
Fresno State (MWC)
Hawaii (MWC)
Marshall (C-USA)
New Mexico (MWC)
Nevada (MWC)
Rice (C-USA)
Southern Miss (C-USA)
Tulane (C-USA)
Tulsa (C-USA)
Wyoming (MWC)

That might be the lower end of the conference membership roll as it turns out; in the MWC’s press release, it’s stated that the structure of the new league will likely consist of 16 to 24 universities.  Whether all, some or none of the upwards of an additional eight members would be football-playing members was not discussed.

How many divisions and which schools will be in which divisions will be decided over the next six months.  The conference will hold a football championship game, and the release states that there will be semifinal matchups to determine the title game participants.

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14 Responses to “MWC, C-USA to dissolve, form one conference”
  1. imaduffer says: Feb 13, 2012 3:36 PM

    One of these teams will get a automatic bid to the “The Toilet Bowl.” The other team will come from the “Big East.”

  2. BurkieInBoston says: Feb 13, 2012 3:39 PM


  3. AlohaMrHand says: Feb 13, 2012 4:10 PM

    both conferences were already picked clean by the REAL conferences.That being said this had to happen.

  4. florida727 says: Feb 13, 2012 4:16 PM

    It makes sense for this to happen. Either conference on its own couldn’t survive and expect any kind of decent bowl scenario. Good for them. 2 divisions. #1 from “A” plays #2 from “B” in one semi-final. Just the opposite for the other title game participant. Generates interest among more schools in the conference (anyone from the BCS taking notes?). Cut down expenses by having teams from west of the Mississippi primarily playing one another, with the periodic cross-over game… same for those east. Hope it works out for them. Hopefully they can convince the BCS they’re worthy of a slot in one of the bigger bowl games.

  5. LogicalConsideration says: Feb 13, 2012 4:22 PM

    @Alohahand, I disagree somewhat. There are enough competent football programs in this bunch that they may actually be able to displace the Big East in the conference pecking order. With the exception (for now) of Boise State, there aren’t any teams in the future Big East that should scare any of the top half of this new mega-conference. I’m not suggesting that the better teams in MWC/C-USA would dominate the Big East teams, but they certainly could hold their own and win about as much as they lose.

  6. unctarheel97 says: Feb 13, 2012 4:24 PM

    I agree with Logical. This conference is just as good as or, at least, on par with the Big East as far as quality of football is concerned. In fact, the football might just be a lot more entertaining as a lot of the CUSA/MWC teams use the fast-paced, high scoring spread offense and the Big East teams are more pro-style, grind it out (of course there are exceptions like Cincinnati).

  7. phillyb6 says: Feb 13, 2012 5:16 PM

    Love the idea of a four team playoff within the conference. Just seems like fun to me and I’m sure the regular season battles for the playoff spots will be fun to watch. By my count it looks like one of the “west” teams is going to get the shit end of the stick on traveling to the east… UTEP or Rice I guess?

  8. deep64blue says: Feb 13, 2012 5:22 PM

    Interesting – current FBS regulations wouldn’t permit semi-finals.

  9. wethog66 says: Feb 13, 2012 5:27 PM


    You are wrong, simple as that. As a Navy season ticket holder I can say with confidence that Navy has had success againt a good chunk of the MWC/CUSA schools, and Navy can hang with any of them. It is also clear that Navy is a mid and above team in the new Big East. Rutgers is no slouch, and neither are USF, UCF, SMU, Houston, Cincy, etc….

    Both conferences match up extremely well against each other.

  10. dolfan1 says: Feb 13, 2012 6:23 PM

    Wow what a crappy conference!

  11. TxGrown says: Feb 13, 2012 6:39 PM

    A four team playoff? They might go from a “picked clean” conference to a trailblazer one. For the others to follow.

  12. deadeye says: Feb 13, 2012 7:29 PM

    I applaud this unification. Both conferences were in danger of imploding. Now they will be known as the first conference to go to 16 teams and have 3 postseason games.

    Very smart move…

  13. champguy81 says: Feb 13, 2012 8:34 PM

    @deadeye: I recall the WAC having 16 teams in the 90’s… didn’t work out – the MWC was originally 8 WAC teams who left together.

    @deep64blue: Can you point out to me where the FBS regs prohibit 4-team conf. playoffs? I’m not doubting you; I would like to be able to read about what sort of playoff IS alowed, and what sort of loopholes might be in the bylaws.

    Personally, I hate the idea of expanded conference playoffs, it seems to me that the more games you play before determining conference titles, the fewer games you have “room” for in a plus-one or other sort of national playoff.

    Unless the new conference is going to only play 8 conference games, then use the “semifinal” round as a ninth reg. seas. game…. THAT, I could see working out.

  14. rollteal says: Feb 13, 2012 11:49 PM

    A whole conference of fail

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