The Mountain West and Conference USA just lost five members today to the Big East and the football-only merger may now become a complete consolidation of both leagues. The first word about the leagues combining in all sports came from UTEP's athletic director Bob Stull said the two leagues were considering a complete merger.
It is now being reported by Brett McMurphy of CBS Sports that a vote could happen next month from the schools to decided whether or not to combine into one league for all sports:
The merged league would consist of: East Carolina, Marshall, Memphis, Rice, Southern Miss, Tulane, Tulsa, UAB and UTEP from C-USA and Air Force, Colorado State, New Mexico, UNLV and Wyoming from the Mountain West along with new members Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada for a 17-team conference. Air Force was being sought after by the Big East, but the Gazette reported Tuesday evening that the Falcons would remain in the Mountain West.
This would make for a wide spread league with 17 football members and 16 basketball members (Hawaii is in only for football). Travel would be a concern with the league stretching from Las Vegas, Nev., to Greensboro, N.C., for football, basketball, volleyball, soccer and so on. With a league of that size there would be at least divisions and possibly the quadrant system to help with travel costs for the Olympic sports. Seventeen teams for football is interesting and doing two divisions may not be feasible, because one division of eight teams and one with nine. So it will be interesting to see how that can be worked out.
I am more receptive to this idea now because the only options for the Mountain West to expand are WAC schools and they do nothing outside of Utah State, and even they are not a great upgrade. So, go with a full-blown merger between the two leagues and go from there.