Saturday, March 31, 2012

Expanding the NBA

There are currently 30 teams in the NBA.  Expanding that to 32 doesn't seem to far fetched so I decided to look into the cities out there that would be able to support an NBA franchise.

Let's begin with the largest media markets in the US that are currently without the NBA:
12 Seattle
14 Tampa
21 St Louis
23 Pittsburgh
24 Raleigh/Durham
27 Baltimore
28 San Diego
29 Nashville
30 New Haven/Hartford
31 Kansas City

Three common stumbling blocks stand in the way of many of these cities and I will use them to narrow down the list.  The first is proximity to a current NBA franchise and the second is competition with a NHL franchise.  The third is proximity to a dominant NCAA program.

Using the first qualifier---
Tampa is too close to Orlando.  Raleigh/Durham is too close to Charlotte.  Baltimore is too close to Washington.  While San Diego is two hours away from LA, Southern California is already saturated and unless the Clippers were to return or the Kings left Sacramento I don't think it would work.  Nashville is too close to Memphis.  New Haven/Hartford is too close to the Knicks, Nets, and Celtics to succeed.

Using the second qualifier---
Tampa has the Lightning.  St Louis has the Blues.  Pittsburgh has the Penguins. Raleigh/Durham has the Hurricanes.

Using the third qualifier---
Pittsburgh has both Pitt and Duquesne vying for attention.  Raleigh/Durham is in the heart of Tobacco Road and arguably Charlotte's lack of success can partially be attributed to the dominance of college basketball within the state.  I left Columbus and Cincinnati off my initial list (both are in the low 30s market wise) but they won't work either due to Ohio St and crosstown rivals Cincinnati and Xavier.  Columbus also has the NHL Blue Jackets working against it and NBA fans in the city are already loyal to the Cavaliers.

This leaves Seattle and Kansas City.  Kansas City has the Sprint Center already in place and could host an NBA team immediately.  Seattle recently lost the Sonics because ownership wanted a fancy new stadium that the tax payers weren't prepared to bankroll but one could be built to support NBA and/or NHL if a team was promised to the city.

Aligning 32 teams
Rather than doing 6 divisions of 5/6 and have uneven divisions I think the solution is 4 divisions of 8.  8 divisions of 8, like the NFL, would split up too many rivalries.  I devised a 4 divisions of 8 with only splitting up one rivalry and only putting one team in a somewhat odd region.

Golden State                      
LA Lakers        
LA Clippers      

Pretty straightforward.  Everyone but Utah is on Pacific time accept Utah.  I hated to separate Utah from Denver but it couldn't be avoided--this was the least destructive move I could make.  My thoughts were that Utah and Phoenix would become a rivalry game.  Historically, this move restores Portland and Seattle to a division with the California teams and Phoenix where they played from 1970-2004.

Oklahoma City
San Antonio
New Orleans

Of my four divisions I like this one the least.  Denver is kind of an odd ball but Denver is essentially a huge city in the middle of a mountain range--there isn't anyone that is really close to them.  On the bright side, Denver was in a division with the Texas teams for 24 years from 1980-2004 and is an ABA legacy like the Spurs.  There's also a chance that they can build some animosity with the Thunder who are a young franchise without a real rival (however the citizens of Seattle will hate OKC for eternity).  Atlanta is a bit of an outlier too but to best fit everyone in they work the best here.  This division at least contains two other Deep South cities--Memphis and New Orleans, that they could learn to dislike. Yes it spans 3 time zones but 6 of the teams are in Central so its only really an issue when Atlanta and Denver play each other.

Kansas City*

Here I created a true Midwestern division.  The Timberwolves are at long last with teams that make geographic sense rather than the old haphazardly designed Northwest Division.  Newcomer Kansas City fits in well and Toronto isn't too odd an addition either with its proximity to Detroit and Cleveland and Toronto was with many of these teams from their founding in 1995 until the 2004 realignment. The NBA could even try to piggyback the NHL schedule by making Raptors-Pistons the day before/after Leafs-Wings games.

New York

I pretty much subtracted a team from two existing divisions and then shoved them together but I did so with a rhyme and reason behind it.  Washington is culturally northeastern and not southern so it made more sense for them to be with Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.  Also, Florida and Charlotte are populated by a lot of northern transplants.  The NHL used a similar logic when they devised their yet to be adopted 4 division model.  The players' union blocked it because they wanted to be douches and use alignment as a bargaining chip in their next CBA citing travel concerns, but ultimately I think the NHL will adopt this idea and the NBA should too.  There is also some historic precedent for this move as Washington was in a division with the Northeastern teams from 1978-2004; Miami was with them from 1989-2004; and Orlando was with them from 1991-2004.

The quick and easy solution would be to to just designate two divisions as one conference (American) and the other two another (National) and stick to the same model that currently exists.  However I'm going to take another page from the NHL proposal and suggest the playoffs take on a more divisional flavor.  The top four in each division make the playoffs and are seeded such that 1 plays 4 and 2 plays 3 in a seven-game series.  Winners advance to a Division Title Series.  Winners of the four Division Title Series advance to the NBA Final Four Series, a seven-game series, where seed is determined by regular season record.  Naturally, the winners of the two Final Series then meet in a seven-game Title Series.

Taking the Big 12 back to 12

Oh the Big 12--the conference of University of Texas-sized egos.  This is the conference that drove away four members so that Texas could keep their Tier 2 and 3 media rights, only to in the end agree to share its Tier 2 profits after four solid and historic programs, Nebraska, Colorado, Texas A&M, and Missouri had enough and now Texas and Oklahoma look like your 24 year old cousin that still sits at the kids table at family gatherings--way bigger than everyone else but content calling the shots and intimidating everyone around them.

Inevitably this league will go back to 12 at some point.  The status quo now is a conference title game and going without one will only call the credibility of its champion into question.  The internet rumors about some crazy ACC raid and getting Florida St and Clemson are so preposterous I'm not going to even talk about the pros and cons of it.  The real candidates are pretty obvious--Louisville and BYU.

Louisville wouldn't hesitate to bail on the BIG Frank-EAST-ine Monster and they pair well with Notre Dame.  They should have got an invite at the same time as West Virginia and why they didn't still confounds me.

BYU is another perfect fit. Independence is not going to work out for them and here's why:  The Big 10--Pac 12 alliance makes it highly unlikely that either of those conferences will ever want to schedule BYU, let alone agree to a Home and Home.  There's also the MWC/C-USA alliance, merger, or whatever you want to label their facebook-complicated relationship.  A 9-game Big 12 conference schedule also limits the number of BCS schools out there who would have the schedule space for the Cougars.  They can probably get an annual series with Boise St, San Diego St, and Hawaii but that's 3 games in a 12 game schedule.  The WAC schools, if that conference is even still alive after the 2012 season, do not want to play 2 for 1's with BYU and the AQ schools only want to give BYU their own 2 for 1's or 1-and-done pay games.  The point I'm getting at is they aren't going to be able to have enough home games to even make that venture possible.  So BYU wants to have games that wouldn't normally be aired for BYUtv?  I don't see why this is even an issue, let them have those games for Mormonvision.  Texas gets to have games on their own channel; why can't BYU?

Other schools to think about
Cincinnati's name also gets thrown out there but I think their stadium and fan base is just too small to bring the kind of value the Big 12 would want in an expansion candidate.

South Florida is another thought.  It would mean a school in talent-rich Florida.  They have zero commitment to the Big East.  They draw a fairly decent crowd.  They only choke against Big East teams so maybe their choke streak will end if they come to the Big 12.

I hate Boise St but I suppose I have to list them anyway.  Stadium is too tiny.  Market is too tiny.  Turf is too blue.  Other sports suck.  I don't care that they beat Oklahoma in a Fiesta Bowl or TCU in a different Fiesta Bowl.

San Diego St is an-out-of-the-box idea.  I think they would have to have some sustained success in the Big East first but it would be a brand new media market.

How to align it
This is easy.  BYU, Kansas, Kansas St, Iowa St, Louisville, and WVU in the North.  Oklahoma, Oklahoma St, Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, and Texas Christian in the South.  Chances are the winner of the Red River Rivalry represents the South 3 out of 4 years and since it will be played in Jerry's World they will have the home field advantage in the title game.  The league gets to pocket the money from the title game and the winner of that game gets to go on to the post season without anyone pointing out that they didn't have to play a 13th game to win their conference.

Division II in Ohio

Following DII sports is kind of a side hobby of mine.  Currently there are 12 schools in Ohio participating in NCAA Division II.  Seven are full members of the GLIAC, which also has nine members in Michigan. An eighth, Notre Dame College is a GLIAC member in football and a few other sports but as of yet has not secured full membership.  The other four are charter members of a new conference the G-MAC that is supposed to start play in 2013 with Kentucky Wesleyan, Trevecca Nazarene, and Virginia-Wise also participating.

Perhaps its a feeling of Ohioan provincial pride or an ingrained disdain for all things Michigan but I would love to see the the GLIAC members in Ohio overthrow their Michigander overlords and create an all Ohio Conference at the DII--since DIII already had an Ohio Athletic Conference lets go with Buckeye State Conference. Let's just scrap the whole G-MAC concept.  Also since one of these Ohio schools is Ursuline, a women's college, to make it an even 12 for men's sports lets call up Mount Vernon Nazarene from NAIA--they currently play in an Indiana-based conference but that's only because most of their old conference mates in the American Mideast Conference have already jumped to NCAA DII.

Members would be:    Lake Erie College, Notre Dame College, Ursuline College*, Walsh University, Malone University, Ashland University, Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Tiffin University, University of Findlay, Ohio Dominican University, Urbana University, Cedarville University, and Central State University.

This conference would be able to support championships in 11 men's sports and 11 women's sports and in some cases, the GLIAC Michigan schools would actually have to participate as associate members under a Buckeye State Conference banner.  If none of the Ohio schools added a single sport the conference (before adding associates) would boast the following number of participants in these sports:  # denotes a BSC sponsored sport

Football-10#                                             W Volleyball-13#
M Basketball-12#                                     W Basketball-13#
M Baseball-11#                                        W Softball-12#
M Soccer-11#                                          W Soccer-12#
M Track and Field-10#                             W Track and Field-11#
M Cross Country-12#                               W Cross Country-13#
M Golf-11#                                               W Golf-12#
M Tennis-7#                                              W Tennis-10#
M Swimming and Diving-6#                       W Swimming and Diving-7#
M Indoor Track and Field-5#                    W Indoor Track and Field-6#
M Lacrosse-2                                            W Lacrosse-6#  
M Wrestling-5#
M Equestrian-3                                           W Equestrian-3

Travel within this league would also be considerably less strenuous than in a conference with 9 Michigan members or members in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and possibly additional states.  I took the liberty of mapquesting how long it took to get from each of the 13 proposed schools.  For a centrally located school like Ashland, the average road trip in the new conference would only be an hour and 40 minutes.  For an outlying school like Central State its 2 hours and 20 minutes.  Additionally, with the geography of this league with so many schools located near each other, in many sports you could play two opponents in the same road trip--Central St and Cedarville could travel together to northeastern Ohio and play Notre Dame and Lake Erie on back-to-back days.

The only things keeping this from being a realization is that the NCAA wants to cap off DII at 24 conferences (with the 24th being the G-MAC) and that the GLIAC is currently one of the most respected leagues in DII.  Capping off the number of conferences in DII is just dumb at so many levels.  Conference alignment should remain free to develop organically based on need but in the cut throat, Darwinian world of college athletics the strongest, that is the establishment, wants to prevent any up-and-comers from potentially dethrowning them and since they get to make the rules they have been free to hold potential contenders down.  Also, there are plenty of NAIA programs that could easily be absorbed to the betterment of NCAA DII.  Addressing the later issue, schools like Ashland and Findlay, who joined the GLIAC in 1995 and 1997 respectively enjoy the prestige of being in an elite league despite the fact there are few similarities between them and the Michigan schools.  7 of the 9 Michigan schools are large state schools.  Of the 12 (13 if we count MVNU) DII Ohio schools all but one are private and most have between 1000 and 3000 students.  The creation of a Buckeye State Conference would give Ashland and Findlay the opportunity to be big fish in a slightly smaller pond where the athletic budgets of their peers would be closer to theirs and where travel would be considerably less--no more weekend trips to the UP.  From the chatter on the online message boards fans from the Michigan schools hold their Ohio conference mates in Ohio, aside from maybe these two, in contempt and unworthy of being in their league.

Aside from obvious geographic rivalries, many of which are pre-existing like Walsh-Malone, there is real potential for creating some fun new ones: MVNU vs. Cedarville in the Evangelical Rumble, Tiffin Dragons vs. Urbana Blue Knights in the Camelot Bowl, Notre Dame Falcons vs. Ashland Eagles battling for avian superiority,  Walsh vs. Ohio Dominican in the Catholic Bowl...

A Catholic Holy League where Basketball is God

I probably should have first written a post on why the Big East, which consists of 8 Catholic schools who do not play FBS football in the conference and 8, mostly public, schools who do and establish how the Catholic schools have long been a leech on the conference and how their shortsightedness and desire for self preservation inevitably doomed the league and despite multiple chances to right the ship and save the conference they always chose to ignore that football was king and that a strong football conference was beneficial for all parties involved.  No; that post would raise my blood pressure through the roof and result in me needing to see a cardiologist.  As I can't afford a trip to a cardiologist I will focus this post on why its beneficial for the 8 Catholic Big East schools to strike out on their own and build a new conference and explore  who they should add it their new Vatican sanctioned basketball league.

The Big East, as it will exist in 2013 includes 18 full members--football playing members UConn, Rutgers, Temple, Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis, South Florida, Central Florida, Houston, and Southern Methodist (as well as football associates Boise St and San Diego St) and non-football members Notre Dame, Villanova, Georgetown, Seton Hall, St John's, Providence, Marquette, and DePaul.  In addition Navy is slated to bring their football program to this behemoth in 2015.  This amalgam of programs was the product of trying to salvage a football league that was so irreparably damaged by the ACC and Big 12 raid that it is an insult to other conferences who are a shadow of their former selves to group this one with them.  The Catholic basketball schools even meddled with the latest expansion by insisting on their being a basketball flavor to it leading to Memphis and their strong hoops program being admitted despite a lousy football team, lousy football attendance, and a lousy football stadium over much more qualified programs like East Carolina.  Of the football schools, only UConn was there at the league's founding in 1979 and their football team didn't join into 2004.  It's also the only football school the Catholic schools have any real attachment to.  The rest are either outside of the Northeast, had lousy basketball (Rutgers), or despite having strong basketball have been cock blocked by an existing Big East member (Temple).  An 18 team conference results in watered down rivalries and tradition and an exuberant number of mouths to feed from the television contract and the NCAA tournament.  The Catholic schools would be far better served by intensifying their rivalries amongst one another and break away to form a new league where basketball was the priority and they were no longer saddled with the interests of football schools.

Who to add
In addition to the 8 schools that would be departing the Big East I think that there are six schools that stick out as expansion possibilities.  I will list each of their pros and cons.

Pros--strong Catholic university, located in the Cincinnati market, great fan following in a city with a large Catholic population, sustained success in the Atlantic 10 and the NCAA tournament, pairs well as a travel partner for Notre Dame
Cons--has to share that tv market and fan pool with the Cincinnati Bearcats

St. Louis
Pros--strong Catholic university, located in the St Louis tv market, large Catholic population in St Louis, fits well in a Western Division
Cons--spotty success in Atlantic 10 and the NCAA tourney, lacks a natural travel partner

Pros--strong Catholic university, successful A-10 program, fits well in a western division
Cons--doesn't bring a new tv market if Xavier is also in the new league, not as strong a brand name as other candidates

Pros--successful A-10 program, travel partner for Providence, gives a stronger hold on New England markets, strong brand name, lots of Catholics in Massachusetts
Cons--not Catholic, wants to be in the Big East

Pros--successful A-10 program, pairs well with Georgetown for travel, Tidewater tv market,
Cons--not Catholic (but at least they are private), there are stronger brand names out there, not a huge alumni base

Pros--could fit in either the West or East division-wise, lots of Catholics in Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh tv market
Cons--not a strong name, doesn't have sustained success, sits in the shadow of Pitt

A 10 Team Model
A 10 team league has a lot of benefits.  It concentrates the tv and NCAA money among the fewest number of schools.  Travel costs are greatly reduced and traveling partners can be utilized.  It also means a double round robin regular season so we get all of the big match ups twice each year.  The drawbacks with 10 is that you may have to pass up on a stronger program that has more potential as a tournament team (and money maker that way) for a school that has a better television market.

For a 10 team league I think Xavier is a given; I really had to stretch things to find a con for the Musketeers. For #10 it becomes a real toss up between whether to go with a split between 5 Midwestern schools and 5 Northeastern schools or to go with convenient traveling pairs.  St Louis is the best candidate market-wise in the former scenario while I think pairing UMass with Providence is the most logical in the later.

A 12 Team Model
While 12 means more mouths to feed it also means more members that have a potential to gain a tournament  berth.  Through geographic divisions (Midwest and Northeast) it also means that the big games are still preserved as Home&Aways (ND-Xavier, ND-Marquette, G'town-'Nova, etc) and the tv partner and fans all get each high profile cross regional game each year too.

Once again I consider Xavier a no brainer giving the Midwest 4 and the Northeast 5 members.  In the west I'm inclined to give St Louis a spot on the grounds that they are in the #21 television market.  That leaves Dayton and Duquesne for the last spot.  Dayton has a better product on the court but they are in the #64 tv market (and presumably a share of Cincinnati's #34) while Duequesne sits in the #23 but shares it with Pitt.  Personally I'd pick Dayton but my guess is that league executives go with Duquesne but since Duquesne has a shot of being picked up in the eastern division we will hold off the final decision.

In the East there is only one slot available and UMass, Richmond, and Duquesne all vying for it.  While UMass itself isn't in a huge market it has inroads into #7 Boston.  Richmond sits in #58 but probably would attract viewers in some other markets.  UMass would bolt at the first sign of a Big East invite while the other two would be unswervingly loyal.

Ultimately, in this set up I think the teams picked are Xavier, St Louis, Duquesne, and UMass but it could just as easily be Dayton instead of Duquesne and Duquesne in the place of UMass; its really a matter of how much loyalty, market value, program success, and Catholic identity are valued by the powers at be.

Success of this League
This league would be by no means a mid major.  I think 4 tournament bids a year should be expected which is more than the current Atlantic 10 gets and its considered by many to be a major league in basketball.  Villanova, Goergetown, Notre Dame, Marquette, and Xavier should anchor this league with programs like St John's and St Louis occasionally jumping to the lead pack.  Financially, I think it will be a success as well.  Many of these schools are household names.  They are primarily urban schools and while they may not have huge alumni bases they are popular within their media market and should be able to command a sizable tv contract.  They certainly stand to earn more per school than in the watered down, new-look Big East.

A Wild Prediction
I see two events triggering the creation of this league.  It will either happen in the months following the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament or immediately after the announcement of when Pittsburgh and Syracuse will leave or their actual departure.  MAY 9 UPDATE--SWUNG AND MISSED WITH THE POST-TOURNEY PREDICTION BUT WITH MARINATO'S FIRING ALL BETS ARE OFF AND ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN IN THIS HOUSE OF CARDS.

Conference USA

C-USA is currently at 8 members that are geographically diverse spanning the entire southeastern US and as far west as El Paso.  They are: Marshall, East Carolina, UAB, Southern Miss, Tulane, Rice, Tulsa, and UTEP. C-USA main difficulty in rebuilding will be determining which direction to grow and reconciling the very diverse interests of its member schools.  As mentioned in my previous post on the irrationality of the MWC/C-USA merger and the need for them to remain separate entities I hit upon the the importance of UTEP in that decision making process as they could very logically decide to move westward and join the MWC.  In many ways, losing UTEP could be a blessing in disguise, allowing the conference to focus on reestablishing itself as a southern conference.  I will explore both options.

UTEP left
If UTEP leaves, presumably North Texas and UTSA have joined the MWC as well and C-USA has no shot at those schools.  I am also working on the premise that the goal is to get back to 12 members and thus C-USA would now need to find five replacements rather than 4.  The list of expansion candidates is very long--every member of the Sunbelt would be up for grabs as would Louisiana Tech.  Some of these candidates are better than others and each has a different set of pro's and cons.  Some bring a presence in a large television market, others a successful product on the football field, and others a presence in a recruiting hot bed.  Some play in new stadiums; others play in glorified high school stadiums.  The following are my five favorites:

Louisiana Tech--the bulldogs are a WAC refugee that has long sought C-USA membership.  They don't bring a big tv market but they are a successful program that has solid attendance for a non-AQ even playing against opponents in the far flung WAC.  I would expect that already solid attendance to increase if they were playing more teams within their region.

Middle Tennessee--the blue raiders have had some good years in the SBC and have had solid attendance.  They are also just a short distance from Nashville and might attract a few viewers from that area.  They would also form a bridge between the members in the Deep South and Upper South members Marshall and ECU.

FAU and FIU--C-USA should highly consider bringing in both of the Miami area SBC programs to steal away that recruiting area for themselves and restore the presence in the Sunshine State lost when UCF upgraded to the Big East.  Both play in new, albeit small stadiums but Florida is a growing state and these programs will hopefully grow as well. It's hard to distinguish between the Owls and the Panthers so let's just take both.

South Alabama--yes, for the last spot I picked the youngest football program in the SBC but the Jaguars play in Mobile, Alabama which is a considerably larger metro area than the other options at hand.  The nascent program has received a ton of fan support despite playing DII, FCS, and NAIA schools in their early years.  This is a case of taking a work-in-progress over more established programs based on the potential USA has shown.

UTEP commits to C-USA
If UTEP sticks with C-USA this whole decision process becomes appreciably more complicated with the various factions of C-USA having their own preferred candidates.  Presumably to hold onto UTEP, UTSA or North Texas (or both) had to be admitted to placate the Miners.  This would leave only 2 or 3 slots left in a 12 team league.  Because of the lack of singular vision amongst the members the end product could very well be a 14 or 16 member C-USA with the expansion candidates coming from the pool I listed above.  It's simply impossible to try to guess what parameters the C-USA war room will value and which schools are calling the shots.  In the process of C-USA expansion whoever was left behind in the Sunbelt would find themselves in a shell of a conference.  Troy, Western Kentucky, LA-Monroe, LA-Lafayette, and Arkansas St would still be there and probably WAC member Texas St but it would once again make the SBC the gateway to FBS with schools like Georgia St, Georgia Southern, and Charlotte being possibilities.

Should the C-USA not give in to over expansion and cap off at 10 for the time being I believe North Texas and Florida International due to their presence in great tv markets.  They are by no means the best on field products but C-USA probably is more concerned about money.  The SBC in turn isn't reduced to barely getting by as they've only lost two members and can easily rebuild from the WAC refugees and FCS upgrades.

The Mountain West Conference

At present the MWC has 7 all sports members--Fresno St, UNLV, Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado St, Air Force, and New Mexico.  Additionally Hawaii participates in football only.  As mentioned in my last post, UTEP would be a logical candidate for the MWC should they choose to abandon C-USA.

UTEP decides to stay in C-USA scenario
Jilted by UTEP, the MWC should look to the floundering WAC for replacements.  Three WAC schools seem to be no brainers--San Jose St, Utah St, and New Mexico St.

San Jose would offer a presence in the Bay Area tv market, one of the nation's largest. While the Spartans have not had much success on the gridiron lately they do have a history with many of the existing MWC members as they were part of the 1996 WAC expansion class.

Utah St brings a strong football program and a presence in Utah that would serve to bridge the Pacific and Mountain wings of the conference and replace the audience lost when Utah and Brigham Young left the conference.

New Mexico St is my third choice.  I think the other two schools discussed bring a little more to the table than the Aggies but I think New Mexico St is a cultural fit and their team and attendance are not to shabby and would get a boost if they played in a better league.  They also bring a credible men's basketball team.  The Aggies are definitely not a lock as their instate rival in Albuquerque could block them.

If we stop there that  gives the MWC 10 all sports members and 11 for football.  10 is a perfect number for basketball but it would leave the MWC without a championship game for football.  In my opinion, the winds are changing in college football and it would be more advantageous for the MWC to not have one.  However, if league officials insist on 12 football members I think UTSA is the way to go.  The nascent program plays in the 65,000 seat Alamo Dome, has no competition in their market from the NFL, and has the makings of being a USFesque program that will quickly become a success.  The league could then consider adding a non-football member to offset the absence of Hawaii's other sports with the lead candidates being Denver, Seattle, and Boise St. If I had to pick one I'd go with Denver, as I don't see the point in doing any favors for Boise St and Seattle hasn't demonstrated as much success on the hardwood although they would give the MWC a more solidified hold on the Denver tv market.

Alignment for football would be as such:
West--Hawaii*, Fresno St, San Jose St, Nevada, UNLV, Utah St
Mountain--Wyoming, Colorado St, Air Force, New Mexico, New Mexico St, UTSA

UTEP wants in scenario
Should UTEP decide to cast its lot with the MWC there are a number of scenarios that could work.  A 10/11 model, swapping New Mexico St for UTEP is certainly a possibility as is the 12/12 but I believe the key to securing UTEP is to offer them the chance to play more games closer to their alumni in East Texas and to do so I think that requires planting the conference flag in the Lone Star State with adding North Texas and UTSA.  In this scenario, I'd favor being bold and going for a 13/14 or 14/14 model taking all the teams discussed above as well as this Texas trio.  Sure it would mean a large conference but the alternative would be leaving a program like New Mexico St, or Utah St homeless.

Alignment for football would be as such:

West--Hawaii*, Fresno St, San Jose St, Nevada, UNLV, Utah St, Wyoming
Mountain--Colorado St, Air Force, New Mexico, New Mexico St, UTEP, UTSA, North Texas

Why Idaho wasn't considered
The one glaring omission from this post is Idaho.  This is because I firmly believe that the Vandals are better suited for FCS football and the Big Sky.  Their stadium, the Kibbie Dome, only seats 15,000, far below the minimum for FBS, and their seems to be no chance or replacing or expanding it.  Idaho should swallow their pride and go back to dueling Montana for FCS crowns.

Why a MWC/C-USA Mega Conference Doesn't Work

This will be a relatively short post--a Conference with 16 football members and 15 for all sports simply doesn't work because of all the travel involved and the watering down of any existing rivalries.  It simply does not make financial sense for East Carolina to send their women's cross country teams to Fresno St for A CONFERENCE GAME!  There is also issue of the AQ bid to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament: The Mega Conference would only get one auto bid and as a midmajor, even the king of midmajors, it would be hard to secure a second and third bid for members of the mega conference.

What makes more sense for the two leagues to do is create some sort of pact to not raid each other and coordinate the rebuilding of both leagues.  This could also involve negotiating television contracts jointly and/or a series of interleague football match ups between them but a full fledged merger is nonsensical.

Ultimately UTEP will be the determining factor in how the conferences move forward.  UTEP is a western outlier in C-USA, even more so now that Houston and Southern Methodist are gone.  The members of the MWC are geographically closer than C-USA and UTEP has a history with some of those programs dating back to their WAC days.  Ultimately UTEP has to decide if it would rather be in a western league with members in Texas or in a southeastern league with members in Texas.  For the sake of exploring both options I will give possibilities for both scenarios in my next posts.


I have long been a fan of college athletics and the never ending cycle of conference realignment.  Often times I find the decisions of conference executives and university presidents to be maddening and bordering on lunacy so I decided to start this blog to offer up some of my own suggestions.