Not much has come out of the talks that began yesterday in Dallas, but an article that did come out yesterday, on CBSsports.com, reports that one option being explored by "the Hair" and BB would be to dissolve the two conferences, the MW and C-USA, and create a new league. The problem with such a proposal is that by remaining separate each conference would stand to receive its $13.6 million FBS payout. Instead of 2 conferences, each with a payout, there would only be one, and therefore, only one payout. That leaves a great deal of money on the table leading to speculation that an outright merger is unlikely.
Commissioner Thompson, who is "...not overly optimistic" about the MW receiving an AQ bid for the next two seasons, is looking into all options for the so-called "Big Country", as the conglomeration is being dubbed, because no league name has leaked out as of yet. The C-USA recently signed a $43 million deal with Fox, which presently has TV rights through 2015. This claim has been disputed by ESPN, believing it had an option on rights. Getting "Big Country", with a MW division, on Fox or ESPN would be a welcome change for fans and recruiters in the MW. Such a dissolution would allow the "Big Country" to negotiate a new TV deal, which would most likely kill the Mtn. network.
There are obvious issues still looming: what to do with Hawaii's partial membership? Can BB and CT negotiate a sliding contract, that would expand, should the alliance look to go up from 17 to 18, 20,22 or 24 teams? What would the payout for member teams be? Is there a big enough market even with an enhanced league (24 teams, 2 divisions) to warrant a big enough contract for an expanded league? How would such a league differ from the new Big East, which has the superior teams from the MW and C-USA? How would a smaller 17 - 18 member league even be able to compete with a similar scheduling alliance between the Pac 12 and B1G, which will have 24 teams? How would the larger version compare? Would the new TV rights make up the difference in potential FBS payout loss? Does the alliance have to go up to 24 teams to remain stable, should the MW or C-USA get raided again (AF might still be going to an expanded BE now that Navy has elected to give up its independent status)? Does the MW have to pre-empt such a move by AF, or others, to even make it to the alliance, because the MW has only 7 full members moving forward? Are there many teams, which would provide viable options for expansion, from an athletic and academic standpoint and which add marketable areas for the alliance? There seems to be a significant amount of dissatisfaction with the MW as it presently stands and something will have to change.