Realignment Junkie: Where’s My Dealer?
It has been a rough week or so for us realignment junkies. The dealers have been hard to find, no matter how hard we look for them. However, indications are that a fix is coming soon.
Where UTSA sits in all this is still questionable. It is really start to look to me that what happens with UTEP will determine if UTSA gets included in the MWC/CUSA glob. There seems to be this number of 22 bouncing around that just makes no sense to me. The only conclusion I can reach is that the MWC desires to be at 10 and Conference USA at 12.
There have been some rumblings that the MWC wanted to keep 2 slots open for Boise State and San Diego State in case the Big East cross country setup did not work out. I had heard this a few months back, I believe it was actually written in an article. Some fuel was added to this today, when Jon Wilner from the San Jose Mercury News tweeted that SDSU and MWC were having discussions on keeping a spot open for them, just in case. This was laughed out through the tweetisphere and actually refuted by the SDSU AD, but it’s not totally out of the blue. SDSU and Boise State have the best basketball and football programs in the MWC, respectfully, in fact the best in the entire alliance. So I could see the MWC working this angle and moving up to 10 and staying there. Going the other way, keep in mind, there is also the threat of Air Force moving to the Big East as Navy finally came on board.
As for Conference USA, it has been assumed by many that they would like to return their configuration of 12. This would keep a conference championship game and preserve the regional desire that divisions provide. Conference USA is pretty stable at this point, no more defections are expected, and no one is anticipated to come crawling back.
Alright, so this is where UTEP comes into play. As we know, UTEP is currently a member of Conference USA, which is down to eight teams. It had been widely suspected that they would be shifting over the MWC side, which in my opinion is no slam dunk. So let’s cover that scenario. UTEP to MWC gets them up to 9 football playing schools. Adding San Jose State or Utah St rounds this out at 10, and that may be where they stop. A seemingly less likely scenario adds all three to get to 11. Eleven makes no sense, so here is an opportunity for UTSA to get it to 12. This makes a lot of sense, there would be two clear geographic divisions, but I just don’t think it will go this way. With UTEP in the MWC, Conference USA West opens up and it seems really clear that UNT, Louisiana Tech and UTSA could be joined with Tulsa, Rice and Tulane for a division.
However, if UTEP stays in Conference USA, I think MWC adds Utah St and San Jose State. This gets them up to 10, now UTSA’s bid is in trouble. The west would have UTEP, Rice, Tulsa and Tulane. They would only need two schools on the western side. UNT is a given, and I think the second school is questionable. It would come down to La Tech and UTSA. The pros and cons of the two programs are inverse of each other, with La Tech being a more sentimental choice. They were already passed over for the conference and have been keeping close ties. The advantage UTSA has is TV market, so is that money enough to screw over the school that has been waiting patiently, upgrading facilities and being the outlier in the WAC?
As UTSA fans, I believe we need to be rooting for UTEP to move west. What this entails is unclear. Because of the alliance, could Conference USA waive exit fees? Does that open up any legal issues? If there is a buyout is it worth it for travel cost savings? I am starting to get a feeling that UTEP staying in Conference USA means UTSA to the Sunbelt.
Regarding the Sunbelt, don’t be too upset if we end up there. It’s not a terrible thing, heck it’s better than the rickety WAC, but after getting a sniff at the alliance it would be a bit of a letdown. At the end of the day being in a division with Texas State, New Mexico State, Louisiana Monroe, Louisiana Lafayette and Arkansas State isn’t so bad. Hey it’s FBS and it’s regional.
Regarding that upcoming fix, according to the Tulsa AD, the presidents are meeting at the end of the month. Not sure if that means this week, weekend or Monday, but either way word should start coming out. Hopefully membership will be voted so we can all move on. Oh and hopefully that UNT source of Adam’s that says UTSA is now out is wrong!
Editor extraordinaire, UTSA grad student. Twitter