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Tuesday, September 02, 2014         

FERD'S WORDS


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More conference shuffling could set UH adrift again

By Ferd Lewis

POSTED:



When Fresno State and Southern Methodist tee it up Monday in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, it will mark the first meeting of once-upon-a-time conference opponents in eight seasons.

But don’t bet on it being nearly that long until they are reunited again under somebody’s conference tent.

One way or another, you get the feeling these two Western Athletic Conference refugees are likely to share a conference home again, be it the Big East, Mountain West or, more likely, some new made-for-TV amalgamation.

Whether the University of Hawaii will be with them is another question.

And not a comforting one to ponder, either, as recent reports underline the volatility of the college football landscape and UH’s vulnerability, 2,500 miles off the beaten path.

CBSSports.com reported Friday that Colorado State and New Mexico of the MWC “have shown preliminary but informal interest in forming a new conference that would have Boise State and/or Brigham Young as its foundation.”

That is in apparent response to a report earlier this week from CBSSports.com that the Big East has talked to Fresno State and UNLV about joining its geographically challenged league that will include SMU for 2013.

With the Big East already set to stretch 2,953 miles in length — from Storrs, Conn., to San Diego — next season, the feeling apparently is, what’s another 345 miles to Fresno, Calif., in 2014?

If the precariously balanced Big East lasts that long, of course.

If it doesn’t, then it isn’t hard to imagine SMU tying up with a new-look conference or the MWC, especially if San Diego State or Boise State are partners. Assuming the MWC still has a pulse by then.

The MWC membership delighted in having a Texas outpost when Texas Christian was in the conference (2005-11), especially for what it meant to recruiting.  And the Dallas-based Mustangs are a logical partner when this whole Big East misadventure eventually blows up as common sense and market forces suggest it should.

It is easy to scoff at CSU and New Mexico, two lagging MWC football programs, as catalysts for significant change. At least until you remember they were also two of the early instigators of the clandestine 1997 putsch that began the breakup of the old, 16-team WAC and gave us the MWC.

And even if nothing comes of the current machinations of Rams and Lobos, it is an indication of the mindset and every-man-for-himself desperation around the MWC, where there are sure to be other plots.

What you have is a situation where members look at the measly $12 million annual MWC TV contract that still has three seasons to run, and an urgency develops to get into a conference that can secure a better TV deal and a lucrative automatic berth in the new, post-Bowl Championship Series, world order.

It took UH 13 years, much prostrating and a hefty travel subsidy to finally wrangle an invitation from the MWC.

After arriving on the last life boat out of the WAC in 2011, the last things the Warriors want is to start paddling anew.

———
Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@staradvertiser.com or 529-4820.






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