This is the gig I'd love to have. As such my resonse to this is much longer and in much greater detail to my other responses.
I would have a meeting of Presidents and we would discuss the disfunctional nature of CUSA and what might be the best end results for the member schools. I'd be very blunt, but I would stress that my responsibilty is to do do the best I can for each member institution, but not at the cost of the others in the room.
I would stress that unless you draw over 40,000 per football game and are ranked in the first or second tier academically, you are of little to no interest to the BCS coalition of bowls and conferences.
If you are not currently of interest to the BCS conferences, your best avenue forward is not exclusivity which leads to enormous footprints and high travel costs, but rather sensible inclusiveness, by which I mean a sensible footprint and financially viable members (TV markets, 20K+ Enrollments) with sound programs (good attendance). Create a sensible conference environment where you can spend your resources on promotion to increase football and basketball attendance --- not travel. This would make you more attractive to the bowls and TV sides of the BCS.
I would advise that CUSA should dissolve in 2010 with the Western members taking in every viable school with a decent media market in the center of the US in preparation for the Big XII meltdown. They should build a 16 member conference for the short term that will eventually split in two.
I would advise the eastern members of CUSA that I would broker a deal with the comissioner of the Sunbelt to form a merger ala the Big 8/SWC merger. When the Western schools break away, we will raid the Sunbelt west, but we will leave Georgia eastward alone guaranteeing the merged eastern sunbelt will be viable with several strong TV markets in a more modest footprint. The new sunbelt will be a solid home for ECU until such a day as when their Big East (pipe) dream might come to pass.
1 University of Louisiana at Monroe
2 University of Arkansas at Little Rock
3 The University of Southern Mississippi (USM)
4 Marshall University
5 Arkansas State University
6 University of Louisiana at Lafayette
7 Western Kentucky University
8 Middle Tennessee State University
9 East Carolina University (ECU)
10 Florida Atlantic University
11 Troy University
12 Florida International University
13 University of Central Florida (UCF)
14 University of New Orleans
This leaves them in solid financial shape and has them in a prosperous growth state. I would advise that one day we will come for UALR and New Orleans, but not for a while. I would try to get bowl alliances and whatnot going with the new sunbelt, but not a champion and champion matchup. Maybe a #4 vs. Sunbelt #2 or something in the New Orleans bowl.
Now building my conference. I would focus on larger public scools (15K enrollment for consideration as a BB only member, 20K for heavy full consideration). FCS schools would have to draw at least 11K for consideration and would need to build a 30-45K stadium for admission. FBS schools should have attendance numbers in the 20-45K range or at least a reasonable chance of getting there. Basketball schools would need to average more than 6K for heavy consideration. Now like "Parlay" these rules are mere guidelines.
In terms of privates, my preference would be privates with really advanced athletics (By advanced, I mean heavily attended) with good media markets (preferrably over 450K). My goal would to have every private have a home stadium that seats 35-45K and a home arena that seats 8K to 20K. My football attendance goals in NFL killzones would be 30K and outside NFL killzones 40K. My basketball attendance goals in NBA killzones would be 8K and outside NBA killzones 12K.
Privates SMU, Rice, Tulane, Tulsa, and publics Memphis, UAB, Houston, and UTEP would take the CUSA auto-bid and start the new SWC. The Texas schools all struggle at 1 or both of the money sports, but are located in great recruiting and TV markets which makes them an attractive core to other schools to join. Almost all schools would need to do wsome facility work to get attendance up. All schools will be encoraged to hire run and gun basketball coaches and flashy offensive football coaches to spur attendance. Memphis and UAB would come with us for the better markets, recruiting, and my promise to make the league into a top basketball conference.
TCU would be offered a slot and would accept to be a founding member of the new SWC and to be on public TV. The TV numbers for TCU are similar in either conference, but getting out of the payperview mountain network and back on to free TV will dramatically help TCU's recruiting. Additionally, the travel costs and fan interest will be much higher for them in a Texas conference. Finally, rumors of me being close to a BCS type deal with the cotton Bowl would seal the deal.
I would go to the cotton Bowl and sign an ironclad deal with them to play our championship game on January 1st vs. the top team available non-champion and we would broker the game to ESPN. Our goal would be to pay the conference 18M to split and offer our opponent 10M --- outbidding the BCS's 9M. The COtton Bowl might bite on this because all schools are close enough to travel well to Dallas and it makes them effectively BCS even though they were not selected as a BCS conference. In essence it guarantees the Cotton Bowl long term.
I would prep the MVC for my raid and strongly encourage them to offer berths to large market medium sized state schools, IUPUI, Central Oklahoma, Central Arkansas, UMKC, UMSTL, and Nebraska-Omaha in return for favorable scheduling agreements. The LAST thing I want to do is kill the MVC.
Under my iron fisted rule we would immediately offer homes to UNT, USA, Denver, and St. Louis. UNT would join for a higher profile conference and a more sensible footprint. South Alabama would join to be in the same conference as UAB and the other reasons. Denver would kill to be in a regionally more sensible conference and they bring a good market. They could become a poor man's St. Louis in short order. I think 6K attendance numbers and top 30 level competiveness would be very acheivable. St. Louis would join as they (along with Memphis) would be the basketball hub of the conference and would welcome a smaller travel footprint. They would also welcome the higher YEARLONG media visibility of a football conference, and my commitment to them would be that the conference will become a basketball power rivaling the Big XII in the Central US. St. Louis and Memphis would trade off the conference BB tourney from year to year.
I would raid the MVC for Creighton, Missouri St., So. Ill, and Wichita State. Creighton would be a non-football member. Missou St. and So. Ill. would be promised football homes after stadium upgrades. Both would also be encoruaged to add Basketball arena seating as a future goal.
Creighton gives Omaha (407K) and is a basketball stud school which is vital to my long term plans. Missou St. and So. Illinois are very good BB schools and are both 20K schools in ~400K markets which seem primed to jump back to Div 1. Wichita State is a Basketball power that used to do football and there is a lot of interest in bringing it back. They are an historic baseball power in a good market Wichita (~446K), but are a little small for football at 15K. non-football only for now, with a standing offer to offer them a FB spot when they uprgade Cessna Stadium to 45K. As enthusiastic of an athletic school as that is, that would not take long.
I would strongly encourage the Presbyterian Church and Trinity University to ramp up enrollment to 10K over the next 10 years, to start giving out doctorates, and jump to FBS with the promise of full membership. Trinity has a history of academic and athletic excellence. Trinity is tiny with fewer students than Rice --- under 2900 --- but is academically excellent. If they gave out doctorates and were rated as a national university they would be tier two at minimum, IMO. In addition, they are loaded with an endowment of $733M (for compairson, Baylor has an endowment of $750M, Tulane $780M, SMU $1.013B, TCU $941M, and Rice $3.611B) and are located a mere 8 minutes from the Alamodome and are right next door to Alamo stadium (capacity 22k built in 1940 and within walking distance from campus) , which could probably be upgraded to a 30K stadium for about 10M. Trinity already plays football in Div III. Their on campus stadium (E.M. Stevens Football Stadium) would easily convert to a top notch practice feild.
They could do as well as rice immediately, but expanding their enrollment would be a great help in terms of attendance. This also totally eliminates any slot for Baylor at any point in the future unless we feel benevolent.
If Trinity is totally out on the idea (I don't think they would be), I'd speak to NO Saints owner Tom Benson about sponsoring the Catholic "University of the Incarnate Word" to jump to FBS. (Benson, a San Antonio native and football loving philanthropist, has sponsored a jump to Div II for the school and might give seed money for an FBS jump if a high profile home awaited the school.) UIW is financially poor, but is also 8 minutes from the alamodome and is almost twice the enrollment of Trinity. Additionally it is on the other side of Alamo Stadium.
I would also offer slots to Texas State and UTSA, bringing the conference up to 16 football members (counting Wichita State) and 20 total members. I would split the conference into Central and southern Divisions to prevent alienation of the Texas schools and promote conference unity.
Memphis (BB Tourney Host)
After Trinity is a full member of FBS, I would break the privates off into the Magnolia conference. As they would have played together for over 5 years they would have their own automatic bids. Both the SWC and the Maganolia conferences would start expanding at this point. Their champions would play each other in the cotton Bowl each year with each conference getting what amounts to $1M per member from the Cotton Bowl. To make that worthwhile to the bowl, the two conferences would have to have 20+ football playing members combined.
At this point, the conference could get a real bounce from the collapse of the Big XII. If the southern schools lose OSU and Texas Tech, they would dramatically improve the tiering of the university and would make UNM and CSU think very heavily about joining. I will work from the assumption that the Big XII somehow hold together.
I would allow an exception to keep the Cotton Bowl healthy. If OU, Texas, Or A&M had 2 losses or less the Bowl would pay the conference with the lower ranked team a $3M bypass fee and could offer the slot and $10M to OU, UT, or A&M to gurantee a sellout and good TV numbers.
The SWC would add the following schools with non-football membership to allow representation in all states in the conference footprint and to keep the media footprint from shrinking with the loss of the priivates:
1,2) Denver - The Metropolitan State College of Denver (or UC-Denver) and Nothern Colorado.
Metro State has over 21,000 undergraduates alone and plays sports at the DII level. They are quite near to UC-Denver so they might be able to work out a co-op sports deal to spur attendance. They are in both NFL & NBA killzones, so a non-football birth only would be offered. Auraria Events Center is insufficient for SWC membership. They would need to build a 10K BB arena. I would also strongly try to sell them on a name change to allow them to actually profit from DI status. I'd recommend "Denver Metropolitan University". That way people would know at a glance where the university is located. They are cutting their own throats with the current name.
UC-Denver has 16,000 total students but would likely not get a blessing from the UColorado system. As far as I can tell they don't have sports.
I would not be crushed if Metro and UC-Denver were not willing to make the committment to play at this level.
Northern Colorado has sports and an enrollment of 12K, it is in the Denver DMA, but is outside of the Denver NFL & NBA killzones. They have their own unique market in Greeley (pop. 87k). Really they would be a pretty ideal add as the Denver Market's non-football member, but their Butler-Hanthingy Sports Pavilion would need to be enlarged to at least double current capacity or replaced--- I would ask for 10-12K seating, but really 8-9K would be sufficient considering city size. It is a regional school (northern) and that region happens to be the Denver DMA, so their is a very good chance their entire alumni base fall in that footprint. It is admittedly, just a toehold, but it is a solid add, IMO.
My first choice by far would be CSU (enr=26.4K, Hughes (FB)=35K capacity, Moby (BB) = 8.7K Capacity, Ft. Collins=130K) but I think without OSU and Tech in the conference, CSU would have a bit too much loyalty to the gang of 5 concept and would stay in the MWC.
3) New Mexico
UNM (enr=24K, University (FB)=42K capacity, the Pit (BB) = 18K Capacity, Albuquerque=504K) probably will stay in the MWC, but I would offer them and NM state berths.
UNM is a large flagship, delivers Albuquerque, and is good in football, great in basketball.
NM state is a midsized university at 16K. I would agree to add them for non-football with the possiblity of adding them for football if they upgrade Aggie Memorial stadium (30K) to 45K, increase enrollment to 20K, and focus on increasing football attendance. They are pretty good in basketball, with pretty good attendance, and have a large basketball arena, The Pan American Center (13K) and are the only option available in NM if UNM stays in the MWC. Offering a home for ever sport but football gives the WAC some time to find a replacement.
NMSU technically is in the El Paso Media Market, which UTEP already provides, but I think this is one of the scenarios where you could argue they are TV significant in the larger neighboring market. As the only other major school in NM, it is entirely possible that they could deliver significant ratings in the Albuquerque media market (ie almost the entire state). NMSU is the only backdoor into the Albuquerque market.
The SWC would make a public offer of an all-sports membership to UALR if they add football and upgrade their BB arena or basketball only if they only upgrade the Jack Stephens Center (5.6K) to 10K. This would put pressure on the state legislature to allow the addition of football. I think it would happen in that scenario. They are a smaller mid-size at 12K enrollment, but they are in a football crazy state and have a nice 53.7K stadium (War Memorial) in the state's largest city. The Little Rock media market has a healthy 552K TV households, but their basketball attendance would have to improve a lot.
I don't like any of my Louisiana options, but I think adding one ---eventually --- makes sense.
New Orleans is an NFL and NBA killzone and is only a 600K market now. University of New Orleans athletics will not get any traction until one or both pro teams leave and that might be years from now. They have the most potential of the LA schools with an enrollment of 17K.
SE Louisiana (16K) is not a bad non-football candidate in the NO market. They are far enough outside New Orleans NFL and NBA killzones to have a shot at being viable. They are pretty close to LSU. Possibly a basketball only member? Ideally, I would want to see University Center enlarged from 7500 to 10K as a show of commitment to the conference, but they could survive with the current capacity for a bit. More importantly, I would want vast increases in BB attendance. I would want to see 6K in attendance.
Northwestern State is in the Shreveport Market which is almost 400K TV households. They are a smaller midsized university with an enrollment of 10K and draw 11k to football and 2K to basketball. Prather Colesium (3900) seems like a bottleneck and would have to be enlarged to 10K or replaced with a 10K stadium to gain entrance to the SWC. As with Metro State, I would insist on a more representative name. What was wrong with NW Louisiana? or even simpler, "Northern Louisiana"?
La. Tech is a medium sized university with an enrollment of 11K in a tiny media market (monroe=178K TV households). Their reputation, history, and facilities are passbable for membership. I think their would be a lot of internal support to add them as a full member, but I would only offer non-football membership for now, insisting on a stadium enlargement of Joe Ailette (30K) to 45K, an arena enlargement of Thomas Assembly (8K) to 10K, and increases in attendance in both sports. I want to see at least 25K in football (currently 17K) and 6K (currently 2K) in basketball.
(If La Tech can't get it's attendance up, their tradition means squat. Attendance is a tangible measure of support for your athletic programs. If La Tech had great attendance numbers, you could make a strong case that they are THE team of Northern Louisiana and that they deliver both the Monroe AND the Shreveport markets (178 + 383 = a very respectable 561K TV households). With their attendance as it is, that is a hard sell. LA Tech would be in MUCH better shape if they rejoined the Sunbelt as a non-football member. The savings in travel costs and the more sensible footprint would re-energize their athletic programs.)
If La Tech couldn't get attendance up and the Saints and Hornets stay in New Orleans and NW ST and SWL were gungho and met the criteria, I might consider adding the latter two as non-sport schools in a package deal if they brand themselves together, ie. "Northern Louisiana" and "Southern Lousiana".
My First choice would be to add OSU for all sports if the Big XII collapses. If that does not occur, I would add the University of Central Oklahoma (enrollment 15K) to add the OKC market and be my Oklahoma replacement for Tulsa leaving with the privates. They would be a non-football member as OU and OSU are already in that marketand IMO there is not room for a 3rd FBS football school in the OKC market today. Hamilton feildhouse (3K) would need to be replaced with a 10K arena.
UMKC is a natural add as a non-football member. They are a mid-sized university in a large metro area (927K) with an NFL killzone. Municipal Auditorium is SWC ready (9K+ seating). They seem like a successful SWC BB school waiting to happen. Like the texas schools, they would have to be strongly encouraged to get BB attendance up to at least 6K.
I would be remiss not to mention Southern Miss at this point. They are similar to NM State or La Tech. They are a mid-sized (15K enrollment) public school with a tiny native TV market (Hattiesburg =106K). They are a football school with good facilities (FB 33K and BB 8K).
If UALR can't get football going Southern Miss would be a solid 12th football school. They argueably are relevant in the Meridian and Jackson markets (106+70+334), 510K total (but very poor). They would be in sold shape in the sunbelt and I think they would only join if a full membership was offered.
At this point I would align the Texas schools together. I think the Texas schools would be athletically more advanced than they are today due to their affiliation with the BB strong MVC schools by this point, the conference more unified, and the danger of conference dissolution would be past.
UA-Little Rock/Southern Miss
Missouri Valley Division
Memphis (BB Tourney Host)
University of Central Oklahoma
New Mexico State
possibly LA tech/NWestern st/SW Louisiana/New Orleans
possibly Metro state/UC-Denver
The Magnolia would offer slots to Washington U (stl) and Emory. No idea if they'd bite.
I'd have TCU approach Air Force about joining. I would approach Air Force with an offer of full membership and Army and Navy with their choice of full membership or football only. I think the allure of having all 3 academies in the same conference --- and an academically elite conference --- would get the generals at the top to bite. Athletically, the lack of depth the academies suffer from would not hurt them as much in this conference. They could compete. Association with the Magnolia universities would promote their branches academically and higher profile equals easier recruiting.
I'd approach Loyola-chicago and Loyola Marymount about non-football or basketball only membership. Again, due to the higher profile both might bite. LMU is the much tougher sell IMO, but concessions on travel might make it happen. Both schools could easily develop into Basketball powers.
If I can land them, I'd go after Marquette and possibly Xavier and Dayton as non-football members.
I'd also toy with the idea of adding academically elite public school Miami Oxford.
My goal would be to give the magnolia a school in LA, NY, Dallas/Ft Worth, Houston, Atlanta, Denver, ST Louis, San Antonio, New Orleans, Baltimore, Cinci, Milwaukee, and Dayton Markets. The media numbers would be grossly staggering, dwarfing all other conferences. The Magnolia would leverage their academic status with major markets playing a nationwide schedule, essentially following the Notre Dame football scheduling model as a conference.
Notre Dame would be offered a non-football membership. Whether they take it or not would not make or break the conference.
The conference would foot the bill for half travel costs on the longer trips out of the raw shared media revenue. Shares would be divided equally out of the remaining TV revenue.
St. Louis (BB Tourney Host)
all sports or maybe non-football
Washinton U (stl)
Last edited by finiteman on Sun Jan 20, 2008 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.