"The conference situation remains, depending on who you listen to or read, chaotic at best," Ballard(ECU chancellor) said Monday inside ECU’s Spilman Building. "I think changes will continue for the foreseeable future. We’re at a lull here that might last a day or a month or two months, but the realignment picture will continue." Ballard said he expects the proposed 18- to 22-team merged football league will benefit ECU by limiting travel, but stood firm on his belief that such a league deserves an automatic qualifying berth into the BCS for its champion. "The automatic qualifier status is under great pressure and review and criticism, and I personally don’t think it can last past 2013," Ballard said. "After that year, the automatic qualifying thing which seems to be driving so much of the conference change is likely to be done away with, and I think it’s high time that performance replace any automatic qualification criteria." The ECU chancellor said he expects the merger to be approved in January, at least for football.