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Mountain West, Conference USA to form 22-team football league

By Ferd Lewis

LAST UPDATED: 02:07 p.m. HST, Oct 14, 2011

Mountain West Conference and Conference USA officials said today they have agreed to merge their football programs, which could put the University of Hawaii Warriors in a 22-team league stretching to the East Coast as early as 2012.

The Warriors, who are playing in their 33rd and final Western Athletic Conference season, are scheduled to join the MWC July 1, 2012. UH's other sports will be in the Big West.

But with the merger of the MWC and CUSA announced today, UH could find itself in a football-only league with teams including Orlando, Fla.-based Central Florida and Huntington, W.V.-based Marshall University.

Commissioners of the two conferences say they hope to begin play as one yet-to-be-named league possibly in 2012 but definitely by 2013. They said play would eventually be in regional-based divisions with a playoff structure. 

A MWC spokesman said UH would be expected to pay travel subsidies for visiting teams as per its membership agreement with the MWC. UH was to pay Pacific Time zone visitors $150,000 a trip in 2012 and $175,000 to Mountain Time Zone visitors.

The goal of the merger is to better position the group for a Bowl Championship Series automatic qualifying berth and raise TV rights fees, officials said.

"The 12 members of Conference USA and 10 football-playing members of the Mountain West will join forces for this strategic landmark in college football," officials said in a joint announcement.

The move comes amid rapidly changing conference alignments that could cost both conferences members as the Big East and Big 12 realign.  

"The role of a conference is to provide its members with the best possible environment in which to conduct their intercollegiate athletics programs," said Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson.  "Rather than await changes in membership due to realignment, it became clear the best way to serve our institutions was to pursue an original concept. The Mountain West and C-USA share a number of similarities." 

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atilter wrote:
this may be the start of a major up-swing for the WARRIOR f/b program, IF this partnership works out!! hope the up-front costs are not too counter-productive so we might see a positive net cash flow? it will certainly be a plus for the recruiting! GO,WARRIORS!
on October 14,2011 | 12:19PM
Musubi wrote:
There goes our conference... The conference that we bent over backwards to join, has reverted into a weaker WAC 2010.
on October 14,2011 | 12:26PM
CriticalReader wrote:
Would like to read more about the "science" behind why the two conferences think this will lead to a BCS AQ berth. Is this being done because there are clear indications that under this formula, the BCS WILL extend AQ status to this alliance? Or, are the MWC and CUSA merely gussying themselves up, putting heavy makeup over numerous moles, to go to a club and HOPE to get picked up? Is there an ESPN deal already in the works? Does any TV deal cause UH to receive less than a stand alone MWC? Will UH have to now cover travel expenses from Cincinnati (for instance) on a yearly basis? Will this cause UH to get kicked out eventually as CUSA coaches and administrators begin to complain about high travel costs and consequences?
on October 14,2011 | 12:43PM
flyingpigs wrote:
It looks like each conference will play only their own members to determine their conference champ, MWC & C USA champs would then play each other for a "possible" BCS AQ position. So UH paying travel subsidies to C USA would not happen. As far as how much each school would make off this deal, I think the big money is off of the direct TV deals between a conference/alliance and network.
on October 14,2011 | 01:11PM
808ikea wrote:
It seems to me like a preemptive move to counter the Big East's plans to invite Boise, Air Force and UCF. I don't think there is any guarantee that this "association" creates an automatic qualifier into the BCS, but an association certainly makes a compelling argument.
on October 14,2011 | 01:31PM
Hodad wrote:
So where do AF and Boise put their other teams? The lowly Big Sky? Or do they even care? This ain't over til it's over.
on October 14,2011 | 02:06PM
what wrote:
So we gonna have games against Coach June Jones' SMU Mustangs?
on October 14,2011 | 02:30PM
Beaglebagels wrote:
Time for the NCAA to shut down the BCS and take back college football and restore some order!
on October 14,2011 | 02:55PM
Manapua_Man wrote:
I miss the days when the Big Ten had only ten teams... there was a SWC and Big 8. Now it seems everything is determined by the BCS and $$$. What good is having an NCAA now?
on October 14,2011 | 05:03PM
Manapua_Man wrote:
At least the MWC is being proactive and doing something. If I were the WAC, I'd be scrambling around to get in on the action here and join this alliance. The WAC's future as a football conference depends on it.
on October 14,2011 | 05:11PM
nj24 wrote:
This is totally stupid. MWC, WAC, & C-USA was never invited to the BCS AQ table. With this merge now the BCS can only send one email, letter or postcard to One conference head quarters saying the same thing. NO to AQ.
on October 14,2011 | 05:12PM
frontman wrote:
Hawaii taxpayers are getting screwed and for what???? 4 D1 schools and 18 D1 wannabe's. LOL
on October 14,2011 | 08:12PM
braddah wrote:
Well, when we can even beat SJSU.....who cares......
on October 14,2011 | 08:15PM
Manapua_Man wrote:
We need Boise State caliber coaching staff. I want to see UH play smart football and not shoot themselves in the okole so often.
on October 14,2011 | 11:15PM
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