All eyes have been on the recent WAC/BYU/MWC shifts that had the WAC ready to add BYU for non-football sports which would have potentially caused Boise St. to stop it’s move from the WAC to the MWC. Utah St. went as far as to reject a MWC invite thinking the 8 WAC schools would remain in solidarity and welcome BYU. Instead, Utah St. had to watch Fresno St. and Nevada accept MWC invitations just hours after pledging unity.
Now there is news that the Mountain West conference might take their moves a step further with a merger with Conference USA. There have even been hints to such by people such as TCU football coach Gary Patterson
about an even bigger change in the landscape than we’ve seen this week with the MWC/WAC.
Such a move would put the conference at 22 to 23 schools, the largest conference in the NCAA.
After the WAC-16 school fiasco that led to the birth of the Mountain West, one might think this is exactly what the MWC schools would NOT want. And perhaps with the additions of Nevada and Fresno St., the merger talks might be put aside. Because it make sense for the MWC, at 8 members if BYU left, to consider stabilizing themselves with the CUSA-12.
If you’re CUSA, it’s also a means of protecting yourself in the future.
UCF and Memphis have long been rumored to be future Big East candidates. If there were a Big East split, even CUSA member ECU could leave. CUSA would have little leverage to attract replacements from the MWC at that point and would have to turn to the Sun Belt or FCS upgrades.
So if CUSA lost 2-3 members, and the MWC had merged with only 8 members, all of a sudden you’re looking at a 16-17 school conference. And there’s always the chance that the Big East could go after even more CUSA schools such as Houston. And while it seems unlikely, perhaps the Big 12 or Pac-10 might even one day look at current MWC schools.
While a merger might not seem to make the most sense now on paper, it is something that could have some benefit down the road to keep the members of both the MWC and CUSA conferences in a proactive position rather than having to react to future raids.