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Mountain West Speaking With Big East And Big 12, Plus Football-Only Merger With C-USA Is Back In Play

With conference realignment Armageddon upon us with Syracuse and Pitt heading off to the ACC, Oklahoma and others may head of to the Pac-12 and other schools looking for a landing spot, all conference commissioners and school presidents are on high alert.

This includes the Mountain West who could stand to gain a few teams if the Big 12 does fall to its near certain death. Commissioner Craig Thompson has said he is having conversations with the Big East and Big 12 teams to explore all options.This time around Thompson is finally being proactive and is also resurrecting an old idea from this past summer which is to combine the Mountain West and C-USA.

Thompson gave a brief statement about the possible football-only merger with Conference USA, via the Idaho Statesman:

"We've resurrected ... this consolidation concept with Conference USA from a football-only standpoint. The timing is right to be proactive in that," Thompson said. "Consolidation is, at least, worth exploring."

Every option should be on the table and merging with C-USA no longer seems like a far fetched idea, plus there is a possibility it may not be a 22-team football league since the Big East and possibly even Big 12 -- if it survives -- may try to grab a few teams from C-USA.

However, in my opinion this should be the last option for the Mountain West.
C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky commented on the massive shift forthcoming in conference realignment:

"We find the activities involving conference realignment fascinating. We are closely watching the recent developments in other conferences, and the potential for change. At the same time, we are working on some creative consolidation strategies that have the potential for positioning our members well into the future. We are particularly intrigued by cooperative possibilities with the Mountain West."

Not much really there other than it seems that C-USA, Mountain West merger is a real possibility. There is no word on if this football-only merger would be set up as two separate leagues with the league champions facing off for an automatic BCS bid. 

Might as well try all options to see what happens, because the current leftover teams from the Big 12 and Big East would form one conference of 13 teams with TCU, Texas Tech, Texas, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Kansas, Connecticut, Rutgers, Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida and West Virginia. Then possibly add BYU to create a 14-team league.

That would keep the Big East/Big 12 as a BCS league with just one less BCS league, however there are some schools such as West Virginia, Rutgers and Connecticut who are trying to find a new home. 
If that happens, there would be five BCS leagues and according to a source that BCS may need six leagues to be viable:

The BCS board of directors has suggested that to continue operating, it needs six automatic qualifying conferences. That opens the door for the Mountain West and Conference USA to try and gather new friends and walk on in. Both have been on the outside looking in when it comes to the BCS party and would love to finally write their own invitation.

This is good news for the Mountain West who could be in line for the sixth BCS spot if the Big East and Big 12 do merge to form one league. Assuming this is an accurate statement there is no need for the Mountain West to partner with C-USA, and the Mountain West could stay pat at 10 teams or go after a few more teams to get to 12. They could try to see if TCU would be willing to come back if they can be assured that the Mountain West becomes a BCS league and then maybe go after Houston to get the Mountain West to 12 teams.

While in the past the Mountain West has been criticized for not being pro-active in conference realignment this time around they should proceed with caution. Approaching schools from the Big 12 or Big East and discussing a merger with C-USA is the right thing to do, but the truth is that the Mountain West is at the bottom of the list of leagues who can actually make a move. 

So, there is no reason to rush things. Just wait and see what happens from the Big 12, Big East and others before making a decision and then go from there. If there is any truth to the above statement about the BCS needing six leagues to keep the system viable then the league should just sit back and hope that the Big East and Big 12 merge to open up that sixth spot.

Hat tip: BSUbluNorange

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