This would be my 6th AQ conference
18 teams? WOW!
Everbody thought I was crazy! now its 22 teams and wanting to go to 24 go cusa/mwchttp://espn.go.com/college-football/sto ... y-alliance
The Mountain West Conference and Conference USA have agreed to form an association for football, hoping the move will help solidify both leagues and improve their chances at obtaining an automatic qualifying bid for the Bowl Championship Series.
The 22-team league will have a two-division alignment and will play a championship game, Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said during a conference call announcing the move on Friday.
The two leagues would maintain their independent structures in all other sports under the arrangement, which could begin as early as 2012.
The timing of the announcement comes amid reports that the Big East is close to inviting Mountain West members Boise State and Air Force and C-USA member Central Florida, along with football independent Navy.
I'm just trying to create greater stability for our membership so we're not talking about membership issues. The status quo of a 10-team football league with Hawaii as a football-only member was not acceptable, and we're looking for a new dynamic.
-- Mountain West Conference
commissioner Craig Thompson
Banowsky and Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said Boise State, Air Force and UCF voted on the alliance, and that all three schools endorsed the move.
Both commissioners also said their respective schools informed them about discussions with the Big East but declined to go into much detail. Banowsky said SMU and Houston have not informed him of any discussions with the Big East.
When asked specifically whether he expected to lose UCF, Banowsky said, "Not really. I hope UCF will be with us for a long time, but as I've said, if a school feels they're in a better situation somewhere else, that's OK.
"It's not something anyone takes personally. We find a way to handle it in a professional way. We pat them on the back and wish them well."
Will the new alliance be enough to keep Boise State and Air Force from leaving for the Big East?
"I don't want to label it in those terms," Thompson said. "It's a viable option and it creates stability, and that's what they're looking for.
Thompson said he spoke with Air Force Academy Superintendent Gen. Mike Gould on Thursday night, as the Falcons hosted San Diego State, again on Friday morning, during a conference call, and a third time in a follow-up conversation.
"I can't answer what Air Force will do. We are going to put an attractive option on the table for the United States Air Force Academy," Thompson said.
The idea of stabilizing the two conferences was a key point of emphasis during Friday's announcement.
With the rapidly-changing landscape in college football and the possibilty each league could lose members, an alliance would give the two leagues stability they would not have as stand-alone leagues. There even has been talk of adding new members and getting up to 24 teams.
"I don't want to put our members in a position that today we're at 10, next year we might be at nine, two years from now at eight and continually having to add additional member institutions because it's not as easy as exchanging one for one," Thompson said.
"I'm just trying to create greater stability for our membership so we're not talking about membership issues. The status quo of a 10-team football league with Hawaii as a football-only member was not acceptable, and we're looking for a new dynamic."
The two commissioners began discussing a merger in August of 2010 after the first wave of conference realignment hit, but those discussions were tabled a short time later. They were revisited again a few months ago after the second wave of realignment hit.
While both commissioners talked about how attractive a 22-member league spanning 16 states and five time zones is to their television partners, neither could answer one of the biggest questions of all: Will this alliance get them that coveted automatic bid into the BCS?
"Who knows what's going to happen," Banowsky said. "I don't think anyone has a clear idea of what will happen in 2014 for sure, whether there will even be a BCS and if there is who will be in what conference and what conference will have what access and if there will even be an automatic qualification.
"Some people think you should play in the game if you deserve it. Our conferences together will stand up as one conference, we will speak with a strong voice and we will expect our champion to be recognized."
But what if Boise State, one of two schools in the 22-team alliance that has been to a BCS game, leaves and costs the new formation it's strongest asset in its argument for BCS inclusion.
"Certainly everyone's (BCS) numbers are going to be juxtaposed and repositioned," Thompson said. "Everyone in the last year and a half has added or lost members. ... I don't know who's going to be in what league. Right now, today Friday afternoon, the intention is we start with 22."
Moving forward, the two conferences will sit down to work out scheduling arrangements and a divisional structure without losing any traditional rivalries. Banowsky said there is the hope of getting a championship game established for 2012, but ideally that would begin in 2013.
He also added, "The long-term goal is to figure out a way to have divisional champions and a tiered playoff format."
The football-only association would not affect the MWC and C-USA's status within the NCAA structure. But they also will work on scheduling agreements for their other sports, including men's basketball.
No doubt this alliance is a unique partnership in college football, one Thompson hopes will last well into the future.
"I'm just trying to find a comfort zone where everybody, 'Says I'm really happy to be a part of this association,'" Thompson said.