I know that is has been said that a new eastern conference besides the BE Football is not likely. With schools like UNCC being seemingly inescapably being drawn to the FBS flame, I am starting to think this is not the case. The sheer number of teams that are looking at FBS by 2020 and the large size of several conferences today (especially in the east) seem to imply a likelyhood a new eastern conference will come about.
I think we could see a scenario in 2010 that gives rise to the elements of a new conference by 2020 in much the same way CUSA came into existance.
I could see BE football taking Memphis and/or UCF in 2010.
I think rather than reloading, the western CUSA and a few schools break off to form a SWC. The privates have a lot more "BCS viability" with their large endowments and high academic standards. (Having 4 tier 1&2 schools out of 12 is not a BCS-like ratio. Having 5 --- assuming TCU rejoins --- or more out of 8 is a lot better. ) It makes a lot more sense for them to pull away from the academically lesser eastern schools at minimum to reduce unneccessary travel costs in the short term and to maybe eventually try to raid the better schools in the MWC (TCU, CSU, Utah, BYU, and Air Force) to gain BCS access. Financially a compact 8 member SWC would pull more money per school than a regionally spread out 12 member CUSA.
That leaves the remaining schools --- Marshall, ECU, possibly UCF, possibly S. Miss --- out in the cold. Marshall could drop back down to the MAC. If BEF doesn't take UCF, the Sunbelt would love to have them back. Southern Miss would be welcomed with open arms, but would probably balk at the sunbelt. There has been talk that ECU has been considering making a go of it as an indy until BEF picks them up. In this scenario, maybe they go Indy.
That would leave a lot of schools being generally dissatisfied for a number of years in the timeframe UNCC would potentially move up. I wonder if this is the scenario that a lot of eastern AD's and Presidents who are pushing for FBS at their schools see?
The MAC would again be a huge 14 member conference as likely would the sunbelt. The A10 would still be 14 members. All of that if a pain to schedule and works against you in the tourney and in football. These factors have been pressures that have lead to defections from conferences in the past and could be factors again in the future.
The elements are there for a new conference to emerge in the east around 2020. I think that is why a number of eastern schools are commisioning these FBS viability reports.
UNCC's could be the domino that starts a series of changes originating in a suprising place --- the Atlantic 10(/CAA).
The Atlantic 10 expanded to 14 teams in a move that I found very curious at the time. When I look at it, I think the reason for the expansion was in part as insurance in case Temple eventually left for an all sports conference and if UMASS upgraded to FBS and did the same. They might not have the leverage if that were to happen to pull in a school like St. Louis over a rising native conference like the MVC. It doesn't seem to make short term sense for a BB conference to expand to 14.
UNCC considering FBS has to be a nightmare for them. Temple and UMASS would probably be excited about being in an FBS conference with each other as they are all well respected BB schools. Could we be seeing the start of the public schools in the A10 slowly trickling up to FBS?
ODU is adding FB. It would make a lot of sense for them to take it a step further and upgrade to FBS if a conference seemed to be convalescing.
App State has played it coy about upgrading, but they are in a similar boat to Texas St if UNCC commits to the jump. App State may not have a future viable upgrade possibility if the nearby UNCC jumps. I think they would get very serious about upgrading very quickly if UNCC jumped to FBS.
Georgia Southern and Jacksonville State seem reasonably viable jumpers. Ga So. has a great history and a well developed program. Their media market is acceptable and they probably have viable support in neighboring DMAs. Jacksonville State is in the Birmingham DMA about halfway between Birmingham and Atlanta. They seem small and would be the 5th alabama FBS school (Alabama, Auburn, USA, UAB), but the location is good in terms of TV and attendance for a BCS jump.
I would not be suprised to see UMASS and ODU join App State, Georgia Southern, Jacksonville State, and 1 or 2 other middling to good FBS candidate FCS schools who have not announced any intentions of upgrades or investigating moving up yet (Albany, Stony Brook, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, even Northeastern, Maine, E. Kentucky, Richmond or VCU or an absolute longshot Vermont would not surprise me) in surging up to FBS at the same approximate time. (Delaware, in spite of their excellent FBS prospects and the boon it would give the university, would suprise me.) I think these schools might look at UNCC moving up and ECU as an Indy and decide that now is the time to make their own destiny. A school like Georgia State which should be just getting established as an FCS school may get swept up in that momentum and jump to FBS too.
Those schools have some pull and could pry off a few schools of like mind who are maybe a little better than their conference or dissatisfied with their conference or regular movers, like Buffalo, Temple, ECU, Miami U, Ohio, Marshall, S. Miss, USA, Troy, UCF, FAU, and FIU.
It also wouldn't be inconceivable to see two conferences emerge.
Eastern American Conference?
I think a northern conference that might see themselves as BEF candidates, want to redefine their identities, and want to escape treading water in the MAC. Some good academic schools. Some advanced athletic schools. Good markets.
Buffalo, Temple, ECU, Miami U, Ohio, Marshall, VCU, UMASS, ODU, UAB, UNCC, Georgia State,
Buffalo, Philadelphia, Greenville, Cinnci, Columbus, Charleston, Birmingham, Richmond, Boston+Springfield, Norfolk, Charlotte, Atlanta = 14.106 M TV households.
I think this might actually be like a regional southern CUSA featuring the best southern public schools/markets raided out of the Sunbelt and FCS and the leftovers from CUSA. A number of these schools have history and would likely be up for a reunion.
App State, Georgia Southern, Jacksonville State, S. Miss, USA, Troy, UCF, FAU, and FIU.
Charlotte, Savannah, Birmingham, Hattiesburg+Jackson+Meridian, Mobile, Montgomery+Columbus+Dothan, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Miami = 7.442 M TV Households.
(9 member with 5/9 tier 1&2?)
TCU, SMU, Rice, Tulsa, Tulane, Houston, Memphis, UTEP, (La Tech?/UTSA?/Mo. St?/Air Force?)
(12 member with 8/12 being tier 1&2)
TCU, SMU, Rice, Tulsa, Tulane, Houston, Memphis, UTEP, CSU, Air Force, Utah, BYU
smaller footprint. (9 football/12 total)
UNT, Ark st., UALR, ULM, ULL, Texas St, UTSA, W. Kentucky, Denver, M. Tenn, UNO, W. KY,
Last edited by finiteman on Tue Feb 26, 2008 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.