So, the supposed rumor of a merger between the Mountain West and Conference USA (mwc link) is not exactly going to be a 20 team mega-super-giant conference, but rather it is a set up where each league has their champion square of for an automatic bid for a BCS bowl game. This idea was floated around at least in the Salt Lake area a few years back for the WAC and MWC since it would be most likely against Boise in the WAC and whatever top team the MWC sent out. In addition to the auto bid it would beef up their schedule. The idea was the same which would have given the winner an auto bid to the BCS, but it was kind of a pie in the sky idea.
Here is a good qoute from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on this potential partnership:
Late Thursday night, a source close to the situation said that representatives from the Mountain West and another league -- believed to be Conference USA -- met in Colorado to discuss a plan to match the two conferences' champions in a title game, with the winner gaining an automatic BCS berth.
"You're on the right track," said the source. "The lawyers have told them [the BCS] that it's time to give someone else a chance."
The last line in that quote: 'That it's time to give someone else a chance' I assume that is due to pressure from Congress, specifically Utah's Orrin Hatch and Mark Shertliff (spelling) from banging down the BCS doors shouting how unfair this is. To me this only makes sense if the Cotton Bowl becomes another BCS bowl game, because why would the BCS want to share more money, and we all know Jerry Jones wants the Cotton Bowl and his new stadium to host more profile events., (note I did not make the obligatory mention of that stadium used some self control on that). A question that was not answered was that will this bid be given the same benefits of the current six BCS leagues, and by that I mean do they get the same cut of the pie.
Currently any non-BCS league shares their BCS money -- when they qualify for a BCS game -- with the five other non-BCS leagues where as the BCS leagues do not have to share their cut besides the meager pay out to the non-BCS leagues. If the winner of this game gets a full share for their league it might be worth it, and even if there is an extra share to the losing league since they are part of an agreement that may work. A perk in this would include schedule wise as there may be a conference challenge in football (who knows maybe hoops too) with one non-conference game between the two leagues. This would provide some different opponents to matchup and improve strength of schedule, well depending on who the matchup is against.
While C-USA fans rightfully should be pumped about this since they have never been to a BCS game, however what incentive does the Mountain West have in this. They have sent their conference champion to the BCS two straight years and three of the past five years and a very strong possibility of sending TCU there again this year. This also could be a way for the league to once again put up a block against BYU with some hopes of them wanting to rejoin the league (one they have not officially left), because they would not need BYU's BCS numbers to become a BCS league. I still am of the opinion that BYU should stay in the Mountain West and add Houston for a 12th member, and hope that the numbers for the current eight Mountain West teams and Boise are enough to become a BCS league (as they should be).
A few problems that need to be addressed in this scenario fall around the current set up of the Conference USA title game. That most likely would go away mainly because it was played on the home turf of one of those teams, and with the potential riches of BCS money the league will be fine with that. Another issue goes back to the Mountain West and is why take this risk? I understand it if BYU is gone from the league, but even then if TCU or Boise State are undefeated they are going to a BCS game. Then what if (I hate these by the way) Boise State is 12-0 and plays a Houston team that is 9-3 because they slipped up in a conference game and lost a few non-conference games since they try to schedule up against Big XII teams and then beat Boise State.
Prior to that game Boise State would be going to a BCS game, but this is similar to any title game within the Big XII or ACC with the only difference this is not for a conference title. That is nitpicking but with the history of the MWC and BCS bowl games why take this risk, and the only reason I can think of is the all might dollar where they get extra BCS money for just being part of this playoff game and even more by being in the game.
Speaking of playoffs this looks a lot like a playoff to me and this is something the BCS has vigorously opposed because the regular season is so special in college football. This could be thing that keeps BYU in the Mountain West where there most likely would be an uptick in money and a guaranteed way to get to the BCS. However, BYU is still very much wanting to use their media center, so who knows.
There is some legs gaining on this with this tweet sent from the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Dan Wolken:
With the people I'm talking to in and around C-USA/Memphis, it's clear there's moving and shaking going on. How it ends is anyone's guess
Then shortly after this tweet came from Wolken.
The C-USA/MWC merger seems far-fetched on the surface, but I've had two conversations that lend legitimacy to the possibility.
Tulsa Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham reportedly informed all his coaches about a potential C-USA and Mountain West merger.
Wow, this is moving along fast and a big thanks to Miner Rush with the tweets, so check their site as well as here for the latest updates on this rumor.