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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2011 2:04 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2003 10:57 pm
Posts: 1341
Location: Portland! (and about time!)
A while back, I posed the idea of a merger of the Big Sky and WAC, with the thought of operating two football divisions, one FBS, one FCS. Of course, people out west who've traveled any little bit knows the problem is larger than that.

Heck, in California, if you're not in the Pac-12 (and nobody not already in it will get there, guaranteed), the state is begging you to find cost savings. Including Fresno State.

The real issue, naturally, isn't football, it's the lesser sports. Travel in the WAC is ridiculous anyway, and there are some nooks and crannies in the Big Sky that are anything but promising.

However, nobody's here's to dilute their chance at March Madness. There's not going to be a willing reduction in the number of automatic bids. That's where my original merger idea falls down.

The thought leads to western schools petitioning the NCAA to suspend the rules regarding the number of schools remaining in a conference in order to keep their automatic bid. I kind of wonder if that would survive a court challenge anyway, but that presumes this country still enforces anti-trust laws. Still, the idea is that there's a hardship competing out west with all the ttravel costs incurred, and it hurts even in D-1.

All well and good; I started playing with a "consortium" of Big Sky, WAC, and Big West schools and then included the Great West to, perhaps, get that autobid while making 4 safe-and-sane groupings for all but football.

Then Air Force squawked. Well now. Plus Fresno State joining San Diego State in the Mountain West when there's not complete stability with at least some of the athletic programs... I think the Mountain West is in play for this concept.

The concept:

(1) The football conferences remain. It's the big money, the travel is what it is, that's not going to change.

(2) For the remaining sports, a consortium of these conferences is allowed to maintain the automatic tournament bids while shuffling schools into geographically stable arrangements. It MIGHT look like this:

Boise State
Eastern Washington
Idaho State
Montana State
Portland State

(Idaho State would probably prefer to link up with Utah schools, plus there's a reasonable geographic line that works from central Montana into Eastern Idaho and all of Utah. The other play, however, is to throw EWU/PSU/Seattle in with Northern California schools; I don't think that's going to happen.)

Air Force
Colorado State
New Mexico
New Mexico State
Northern Arizona
Northern Colorado
Utah State
Utah Valley
Southern Utah
Weber State

(After much deliberation, I pitched out the Texas schools, North Dakota, and La Tech, and I suspect they'll figure something out. Meanwhile, I don't expect this 12 to split into 2 groups. It doesn't work.)

Cal Poly
UC Irvine
UC Riverside
UC Santa Barbara
Fullerton State
Long Beach State
Northridge State
San Diego State

Bakersfield State
UC Davis
Fresno State
Sacramento State
San Jose State

(UNLV is the odd school in, so to speak, for Reno are their rivals)

I KNOW that school X will probably be unhappy with the arrangement because they'd like to play a conference game in California, or don't want to be grouped with too many Big West or Big Sky schools. The few PSU fans would kick me around for keeping them with Montana. A political practicality might demand no more than a WAC/Big Sky consortium. It's hardly a dream scenario, but it's certainly not a dream situation.

PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2011 9:56 am 
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I've felt similar. My main example is Sacramento St. It just seems so pointless of them being in the Big Sky. Lets' be real here...and I'm sorry in advance jon if youre reading this...the Big Sky is a push when it comes to the Big West. Yet Sac St. has to fly all it's sports from Sacramento to EWU, Idaho St, No. Colorado, N. Artizona, and now North Dakota. For what??? A riveting matchup in front of 79 fans? Meanwhile, Sac St. would fit in nicely in the Big West. And with the new Big Sky FB-only members, it makes sense for Sac St. to step away too. It's not like the Big West is going to challenge the Big Sky by starting football sponsorship. Even if 3 schools upgraded to join, they'd have only 6 members...too much a risk of 1 leaving.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:01 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 17, 2002 8:05 am
Posts: 827
Location: Louisville, KY
I think a lot of this can get cleaned up if the WAC is willing to go to 16 in football, and then split:

WAC (FBS) - Idaho, Motanana (from Big Sky), Sacramento State (from Big Sky), UC Davis (from Big West), Cal Poly SLO (from Big West), San Jose State, Utah State, Portland State (from Big Sky)
Southland (FBS) - New Mexico State, UTSA, Texas State, Lamar, Texas-Arlington, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana (from Sun Belt), Sam Houston State

Eventually the Big West schools will be able to sponsor FBS football. Four of them move up first as football-only members of the WAC, then the WAC splits again:

Big West (FBS) - Sacramento State, San Jose State, UC Davis, Cal Poly SLO, plus 4 others (Hawaii still playing Mountain West football)
WAC (FBS) - Idaho, Montana, Portland State, Utah State, plus 4 others (i.e., Montana State, Eastern Washington, Weber State, Northern Arizona)
Southland (FBS) - New Mexico State, UTSA, Texas State, Lamar, Texas-Arlington, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana, Sam Houston State

The non-football or FCS members can remain in their original conferences, and play Big Sky football. For what it's worth, this could be the Big Sky:

West - Northern Colorado, Idaho State, Utah Valley, Southern Utah, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Stephen F. Austin State
East - Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls State, Northwestern State, McNeese State, Central Arkansas, Arkansas-Little Rock

If the WAC takes the four remaining Mountain Time Zone schools, the Big Sky is the Southland in everything but name.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:46 am 

Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2006 4:25 pm
Posts: 2260
Here's another alternative.
MWC hands their football operation off to CUSA, after this merger.
A few of the better WAC schools get invited to MWC / FB in CUSA.

Maybe the WAC can merge their FB (at least LaTech, Texas St., UTA, UTSA) into the Sun-Belt.

Big Sky sponsors FCS.

Then you can have schools play all but FB in a conference that makes geographic sense, and play FB (6 road games a year) in a conference that has critical mass.
Perfect example: Sac St. does the Big West / Big Sky FB combo (just like UCD and Cal Poly, since Great West FB dissolved).

The A-10 and CAA have had this symbiosis for a while, the same for the Summit and MVC.

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