Games such as Friday’s Sheraton Hawaii Bowl could be a precursor to expanding ties between Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference as the two leagues examine strategic alliances, officials say.
The nationally televised game from Aloha Stadium matches representatives from C-USA (Tulsa) and the Western Athletic Conference (Hawaii), but the MWC will replace the WAC in 2012 when UH switches conferences in football.
Already, commissioners of C-USA and the MWC say they have had exploratory talks on several possible areas of mutual interest, including the postseason, scheduling and television.
"We have spent considerable time discussing ways that (the MWC) can get better and our group can continue to grow and get better," said Britton Banowsky, C-USA commissioner, who is attending the Hawaii Bowl.
"And, more often than not, the conversation turns to ways that we can actually help each other, not only from the standpoint of games like the Hawaii Bowl," Banowsky added.
A united approach to a Bowl Championship Series automatic-qualifying berth has been among the most intriguing possibilities since neither currently has automatic status.
"There is still some level of interest in talking about that between the two conferences," Banowsky said. "Where the conversation ultimately goes, I think, is way too early to tell. But I think as long as folks are interested in exploring that idea, we’ll continue to do that."
There has been speculation the two could push for a BCS play-in game between the winners of their conferences.
The two conferences also have looked at how they might strengthen their TV position and matchup in bowls.
"We’ve talked about how we can consolidate some of these assets for not only postseason purposes for the BCS but also in terms of marketing initiatives," Banowsky said.
C-USA is being represented for the seventh time in nine Hawaii Bowls and its contract with the game extends through 2013.
"We consider it one of the great bowl opportunities in our lineup," Banowsky said.