MWC/C-USA Officials Visit UTSA
According to Inside Roadrunner Sports, officials from both the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA were on campus this week to evaluate UTSA. This coincides with rumblings that I heard yesterday, and frankly, just makes sense given Brad Parrott’s recent meeting with the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. It’s likely that while making donation pitches, Parrott was also recruiting local businessmen to present to MWC/C-USA officials. Even if both members of the Alliance opt out of inviting the Roadrunners to their respective leagues, it’s hard to imagine Craig Thompson and Britton Banowsky not taking a trip out to San Antonio to check out what the Roadrunners have to offer. At worst, UTSA would be about the fifth option for the merged mega conference that will look to add, at minimum, three schools. Today we learned via Tony Jones of the Salt Lake City Tribune that the brain trust of the Alliance visited Western Athletic Conference members Utah State and San Jose State last month, with sources strongly indicating that Utah State (and likely SJSU) will receive invitation to the MWC before July 1st. These two additions would bring the conference to 10 full members, however it has been widely speculated that Air Force will be departing for the Big East shortly.
A nine team conference could work if the merger falls through, but I feel that it is most likely that Craig Thompson will aim for a larger conference if the proposed merger falls through into a mere scheduling alliance due to a lack of large markets in the Mountain West Conference (see Cheyenne, Reno). This scenario seems most plausible at this point since a full-sports merger between C-USA and the MWC would result in 18-24 teams sharing a sole NCAA auto-bid for basketball. The Alliance scenario certainly plays into UTSA’s favor. Would a nine team conference consisting of the Denver, Las Vegas, Albuquerque/Santa Fe, Honolulu, Colorado Springs, Reno, Cheyenne, Salt Lake City, and Bay Area markets demand a wealthy TV contract? The addition of the nation’s #36 media market (San Antonio) would likely be a nice boon for the conference in their upcoming negotiations with CBS, following the death of The Mountain network. UTSA would bring the conference its fourth highest market ranking. Alternatively, the MWC could invite North Texas to add the nation’s fifth largest market, however it’s most likely that the Mean Green will end up in C-USA. I think the best way this thing ends up is with UTEP moving to the MWC to bring the conference to nine full members with USU and SJSU and 10 for football (Hawaii). C-USA then invites North Texas and Florida International to come to nine members. The next round of invitations would be UTSA to the MWC and Florida Atlantic and Louisiana Tech to C-USA. Two 11 team conferences with reasonable footprints, strong markets, and a scheduling agreement for a de facto in-season playoff. Count me in. How could that in-season playoff work? Stay tuned as I sketch out a plan.
A UTSA alumnus that has been cast away to Austin, Jared enjoys live music and a craft beer. He thinks four verts is the best play in football but loves a QB sneak on fourth and inches. Twitter