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 Potential Conference USA-Mountain West merger in the works

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PostSubject: Potential Conference USA-Mountain West merger in the works   Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:11 am

The mid-level Mountain West Conference and Conference USA, both buffeted by a nationwide wave of realignment, are taking an innovative counter-measure: merging into a single football conference that will number between 20 and two dozen or more member schools.

Plans are to stage a championship game as early as the end of next season and pursue an automatic berth in college football's top-tier Bowl Championship Series.
"It's a proactive step. I think it's creative. I think it's bold in some ways," Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said in makingcheap jerseys from china the announcement Friday. "What we're trying to do is position our institutions in the best light possible. We're trying to get some stability to our system in general and to our membership specifically."
Neal Smatresk, president at UNLV and chairman of the Mountain West's board of directors, said it "lends stability and credibility to our collective football enterprise."

The move came as key schools in both leagues — Mountain West anchors Boise State and Air Force and C-USA member Central Florida— were being pursued by the rebuilding Big East. The presidents of all three institutions were part of an agreement in principle to consolidate, but there were indications Friday that they nonetheless might not stay around to see it through.
Multiple outlets, including the Associated nhl jerseys cheap Press, reported that the Big East will invite Boise State, Air Force and football independent Navy as football members and Central Florida in all sports. Other reports added two more C-USA members, Houston and Southern Methodist, as targets as the Big East itself responds to defections and pending departures that would pare its football-playing lineup to six schools.
Thompson spoke hopefully of hanging onto nfl jerseys cheapBoise State and Air Force, saying the Mountain West and C-USA merger "provides a viable option for both of them and certainly the stability they're both looking for."
Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky was more circumspect.
"We'll see what happens," he said. "If one of our schools wants to do something else and they think it's in their best interests to do it, we encourage them to pursue it. We don't try and hold them back … as long as they're fair to the other members and they follow the rules.
"That's the beauty of this association," he said. "It's not dependent on an all-sports thing. If we lose a school, we can replace in basketball, potentially, with a better basketball school and we can add football for football-only. It's really, I think, a much more flexible and creative approach."
Many of the details are still to be worked out. The mega-conference — yet to be named — initially would include two divisions sorted by their Mountain West and C-USA affiliations. Basketball and other sports would remain separately housed.
Divisional champions would meet at the cheap jerseys end of the season, though doing that as soon as 2012 appears problematic. C-USA already has a championship game, and it would take expedited NCAA legislation to allow another atop that.
Banowsky suggested his league could offer to play one less regular-season game to stay at the current 12-plus-a-championship-game limit, but again it's not certain how that would be received by the NCAA. A 2013 startup gives the new conference more time to sort through options, including whether to create divisions within its two divisions.
If Boise State, Air Force and UCF— and everybody else in both the 10-member Mountain West and 12-school Conference USA — were to stay put, the merged football league would start with 22 members. Acknowledging potential defections, Banowsky said that number could settle at 20 or rise with new invitees to 24. Or even a couple more.
The big prize would be automatic entry in the BCS, which neither the Mountain West nor Conference USA has on its own. Their first formal pitch could come during BCS meetings next month.
"There is no indication that this means a guaranteed automatic bid. There's no indication that it doesn't. There just hasn't been any conversation in depth or detail," Thompson said.
"I think it's just premature to get too far cheap nfl jerseys down that (road)," Banowsky said. "I can tell you that our conferences together will stand up as one conference, and we will speak with a strong voice and we will expect to have our champion recognized in the system at the highest level."
Minus Central Florida, Air Force and especially No. 6-ranked Boise State, that could prove difficult.

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