It looks like the Mountain West and Conference USA aren’t done adding to their super-duper conference.
After announcing that the two non-BCS conferences would combine in a football only merger a few weeks ago, there are now rumors that the Mountain West and Conference USA may partner with the Big East to form a 28- or 32-team football conference.
The rumors were first reported by the Boston Globe over the weekend and now the Las Vegas Review-Journal is reporting that the commissioners from the three conferences (Craig Thompson of the MW, Britton Banowsky of Conference USA and the Big East’s John Marinatto) will meet Wednesday in New York to discuss the possibility of creating this uber-conference.
This news comes on the heels that West Virginia is all set to leave the Big East to join the Big 12 once Missouri makes its announcement that it will accept an invitation to the SEC.
The move is seen by most sides as a way for the Big East to keep its current BCS status and to allow the MW and Conference USA a way into the exclusive BCS table.
The current status of automatic qualifying conferences is set to expire after the 2013 season, which is the last year of the BCS television contract.
Both reports by the Globe and the Review-Journal suggest that four divisions would be created and that the teams within each division would play a round-robin to determine the division winner. Each division winner would then play in a four-team playoff to determine the conference champion.
The divisions would be aligned by region.
San Diego State would be in the west, alongside Boise State, Hawaii, Fresno State, Nevada, UNLV and Utah State. If the plan calls for 32 teams, then San Jose State would be invited to be the eighth team in the West Division.
“We would figure out some way—four divisions of seven teams each, a playoff and then a conference championship game—to come up with the (automatic qualifier),” UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood told the Review-Journal. “Craig and Britton are going into this meeting in New York with one thing in mind, to make this happen with the Big East.”
One person not thrilled with this idea seems to be WAC commisioner Karl Benson. To get to the desired 28 or 32 teams, the WAC would have to be raided again. Boise State left the WAC this year to join the Mountain West. Hawaii, Fresno State and Nevada are all leaving to joining the MW next year.
As it is currently laid out, this new conference would target Utah State, Louisiana Tech and San Jose State.
“Any of this conference repositioning, whether its Mountain West, Conference USA or the Big East, can’t guarantee that a BCS automatic comes with it,” Benson told ESPN.com.
But at least, the three conferences are trying to put themselves in the best position to lobby for one.
Proposed divisions for Mountain West, Conference USA and Big East football merger. Note: MW teams (future and current) are in bold. Italicized teams would not be invited if conference is only 28 teams (Houston would move to the Central Division).
WEST DIVISION: Boise State, Hawaii, Fresno State, Nevada, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State
MOUNTAIN DIVISION: Air Force, ColoradoState, Houston, New Mexico, SMU, Tulsa, UTEP, Wyoming
CENTRAL DIVISION: Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Memphis, Rice, Southern Mississippi, Temple, Tulane, UAB
BIG EAST DIVISION: Central Florida, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Louisville, Navy, Rutgers, South Florida, UConn
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