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Big East, ACC makeovers lead to turnover in C-USA, WAC and MAC

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  • Big East, ACC makeovers lead to turnover in C-USA, WAC and MAC

    June 23, 2004

    BOSTON (AP) When the Atlantic Coast Conference raided the Big East to become a football powerhouse, it started a wave of change that has left the non-BCS leagues in a state of flux.


    Like the Big East, Conference USA, the Western Athletic Conference, the Mid-American Conference and the Sun Belt Conference are preparing to play the upcoming season with several lame duck members.

    So how do you lead a league in limbo?

    "Get through this year and look to '05 when the new members join," WAC commissioner Karl Benson said Tuesday during a break in the Collegiate Commissioners Association meetings. "The disadvantage here is you lose a year of planning and there's confusion. In the past it hasn't been all that damaging. We've got four schools that are playing in their final year. It's awkward, but it's not unmanageable."

    Teams switching conferences is nothing new. Since 1990, the Pac-10 is the only Division I-A football conference that has not changed members.

    But never before have so many teams in so many leagues been shuffled in such a short time. Over the next two seasons, about 20 percent of the 117 Division I-A football schools will be changing leagues.

    The ACC knocked over the first domino when it lured Miami and Virginia Tech out of the Big East. Those schools join the ACC this season. Next season, Boston College follows.

    The Big East recouped by adding five schools from Conference USA, three that play football. Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida join Big East football in 2005. Marquette and DePaul are also shifting from C-USA to the Big East.

    C-USA will say goodbye to two more football schools after the 2004 season when Army goes back to being an independent and Texas Christian heads to the Mountain West Conference after just three football seasons in C-USA.

    The Horned Frogs garnered national attention for themselves and C-USA last year by going 11-2 and reaching as high as sixth in the Bowl Championship Series standings, the highest ranking ever for a team from a non-BCS league.

    TCU, Louisville and Cincinnati have football programs that have blossomed into consistent winners in recent years, and all three are expected to contend for the C-USA title in 2004.

    Next season they will be replaced by Marshall, Central Florida, UTEP, Rice, SMU and Tulsa.

    "It think it's a challenge for us because we're changing so many of our members that have strong identities," said C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky, whose conference is also losing non-football members Charlotte and St. Louis to the Atlantic 10.

    "The league I think has a reputation as being very strong in the sport of men's basketball, we have some very high profile coaches in men's basketball. Sometimes that overshadows the quality we have in football. I think we're just going to have to reposition the brand and promote in a balanced way all of our assets, including football."

    C-USA will be a two-division 12-team football league in 2005, with plans to play a league championship game.

    The reconstruction of C-USA left the WAC looking for new members to replace UTEP, SMU, Rice and Tulsa.

    Benson found replacements in misplaced Sun Belt Conference schools Idaho, New Mexico State and Utah State.

    The good news for the WAC - unlike C-USA - is the league is not losing its marquee football schools, Boise State, Fresno State and Hawaii.

    MAC commissioner Rick Chryst said his league has no plans now to replace Marshall and Central Florida. While Marshall became an immediate league power when it entered the MAC in 1997, the rest of the league caught up to the Thundering Herd in the last couple of years.

    Traditional members Miami of Ohio and Bowling Green played in the league title game last season. Northern Illinois and Toledo, another longtime member, also played prime roles in the MAC's breakout 2003 season.

    "What's been encouraging for us is there has been real momentum coming off of last year," Chryst said. "Our core is intact. As we go about the internal work of launching ourselves in '05, I think we're also looking at this year to really try to sustain the growth of the past couple of years."

    As for the Sun Belt, it welcomes Troy State this season and fledgling I-A programs Florida Atlantic and Florida International in 2005.

    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

  • #2
    Re: Big East, ACC makeovers lead to turnover in C-USA, WAC and MAC

    Screw the conferences anymore. Let's throw everyone into one big conference and settle it that way.


    • #3
      Re: Big East, ACC makeovers lead to turnover in C-USA, WAC and MAC

      it's all about the bling-bling.


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