Apparently the Mountain West and Conference USA merger is gaining steam. The two leagues met in Dallas on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of a football-only merger and after the meeting the two leagues sent out a joint statement saying they will push forward with the idea:
"Our intention is to move forward together with this discussion and analysis at a focused pace."
"Everything is on the table," we're trying to understand how we can elevate all of our programs and drive more interest. We want something fun for the fans, truly national in scope and that might provide heightened postseason-access opportunities."
In an interview last week in the Orlando Sentinel, C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said that to make this work that there would need to be 24 total teams to create two divisions of 12 teams. Banowsky also mentioned that it is possible that the alliance could began play in 2012.
Keeping all options open is a good idea, but with the Pac-12 not expanding and the super-conference model is probably not going to happen it does not make sense on so many levels. First adding two teams would be a tough issue and it would make sense to add two members on the Mountain West side. Even though this merger is football-only, but adding two football-only teams is an issue.
The Mountain West would most likely need to add two full members, and those are at a premium and really no good teams. These two additional teams would come from the WAC or Sun Belt, and most likely from the Sun Belt teams they would have to be in the Central, Mountain or Pacific time zones.
Frankly, none are really up to par with the Mountain West teams. Teams that fit that mold would be all of the WAC and North Texas, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe or Louisiana-Lafayette from the Sun Belt. With the goal of getting a BCS bid none of those teams do anything to help either side achieve that goal.
Also to be considered is that Boise State has been discussed as a possible member of the Big 12 and Air Force reportedly has an offer to join the Big East. If those teams leave then the Mountain West would be down to eight teams and then four more would need to be added for the merger. So, on various levels this is a complicated deal and again one that does not benefit the Mountain West.
History has shown that an undefeated Mountain West team will get into the BCS, so there is no need to merge with Conference USA, as it benefits them more than the Mountain West. Also, a larger television deal may not happen, especially since the two leagues have only CBS Sports Network as a common television partner. Scheduling would be a concern because would conference matchups have to be spread out between each league or would they remain their own separate entity until a title game. Then with two separate 12 team leagues would there have to be a title game between the Mountain West and C-USA which would act like a semi-final matchup before the championship game between each league.
There are a lot of reasons for the Mountain West to not do this but the main reason not to do this is that the Mountain West is in good shape to receive a waiver to receive BCS status for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Even if Craig Thompson knows the Mountain West is not going to receive BCS status this is still not an idea worth pursing any further.