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Conference USA Wanted To Merge With Mountain West To Form A 22-Team League

During last year's conference shuffling which left the Mountain West losing Utah and BYU while adding Boise State, Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson and C-USA Commissioner Britton Brankowsky began talks about some sort of partnership between the two leagues. It came out in July that the partnership was to have the two conference champions play each other and the winner received an auto-bid to the BCS.

Now it is coming out that C-USA wanted to combine their league with the Mountain West to form a 22-team league according to the Hattiesburg American by way of Cowboy Altitude:

"Their interest was more of a combined big old league of 20-some-plus institutions, where we're interested in effectively changing the postseason," [Mountain West Commissioner Craig]Thompson told the Union-Tribune about his talks with C-USA. "We're kind of saying, ‘This is our agenda. Your agenda might be a little bit different, but it's good to talk.'"

"Our league continues to pursue conversations with the Mountain West in terms of how we could best form some type of alliance whether that's a super conference or whether it's a situation where we could compete against each other," Giannini said. "But the big thing in the Mountain West is their biggest effort is to concentrate on the new situation in their league."

Let that sink in for a moment, a 22-team league. I thought it was crazy when Idaho head coach Robert Akay suggested that the WAC and Mountain West join forces to create a 17-team league.

This may have been in the works since December when C-USA commissioner Banowsky did an exclusive interview with the Orlando Sentinel where he was vague in his answer:

"We have talked about broad consolidation of some of our assets involved in our league and his league," Banowsky said of his conversations with Thompson. "It's a fairly aggressive and big idea. It is something that we are considering that might add value. We as a conference will continue to explore all our options."

Looking back now, it is clear that Banowsky was referring to some type of merger but no one picked up on that.

It makes sense for C-USA to want to make that option, but it is by no means a realistic idea. There would be scheduling nightmares for basketball, baseball and the rest of the Olympic sports. Even in football it would be very difficult to crown a fair champion. The best way could be to do a quadrant system with two quadrants of five teams and two with six teams. Then have each team play their quadrant opponents, then play a few cross-divisional games before a semi-final and final would be set up to determine the champion.

Having a semi-final and final for a conference championship would be a brand new idea, and create some buzz for this league. However, the league would stretch from Hawai'i to the East Carolina, plus haven't we all learned from the failed 16-team WAC experience

This type of league does not benefit the Mountain West at all. All of the better teams would primarily be in the Mountain West. Houston being the main exception along with at times East Carolina and Tulsa; but besides that none of the C-USA teams could compete with Boise State, Air Force or even San Diego State assuming they do not fall off the map.

While it seems that the Mountain West is exploring all options by playing both sides of the coin by trying to convince the BCS that the Mountain West is worthy of an exemption, as well as trying to rally his colleagues to voice their opinion about a college football playoff.

Over at Cowboy Altitude they put together what a two divisional format might look like

Boise State UCF
Nevada ECU
Fresno State Marshall
Hawai'i* UAB
San Diego State Southern Miss
UNLV Memphis
New Mexico Tulane
Wyoming Tulsa
Air Force SMU
Colorado State Houston

*Hawai'i would be a football only member.

Make sense it basically  keeps the C-USA schools in on division and moving UTEP to the West where they fit better with a handful of their old-WAC rivals.

This idea is just a pipe dream and would eventually fall apart in a few years.

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