UTSA to CUSA
Tonight of all nights. Tonight had to be the night that the news finally broke. Tonight had to be the night that big rush pulsed through the veins of the self admitted conference junkie. Only problem was this junkie wasn’t ready for it tonight. Let me tell you quickly about a typical evening with Barry Coker. Usually about 10:00 Barry starts winding down. He pulls out his tablet and scours the internet for any realignment info, rarely finding much. He watches twitter throughout the day, just waiting for some news to break. He does his rounds hourly, checking all the message boards, fan sites and beat writer blogs. Usually, nothing happens and he just waits.
Imagine the frustration that occurred this evening. Enjoying Fiesta by drinking too many beers, I found myself waiting for a chicken on a stick when I got a message from @mac78251. As I try to find out exactly what happen, my phone starts bitching about battery life.
Are you effing kidding me?
The big story I have been waiting for going back 6 months or so was breaking, and I couldn’t see it. I wanted to get high, but could not find a vein. Ha ha, oh well, it still happened!
So there it is: We are going to Conference USA. It looks like we will be in a western division in a configuration that I have been hypothesizing about for a few weeks: UNT, Rice, Tulsa, Louisiana Tech and Tulane. I am sure along with FIU, another team will be added in the east, but honestly, I really don’t care. My concern is more with our division, and it’s a nice one. Geographically UTSA couldn’t ask for better. Travel-accessible rivals for the fans to show up. There’s the two Texas rivals just to make it fun, even if one of them isn’t Texas State.
There were some cool things that would have gone with a MWC invite, though I won’t get into that here. The main thing MWC has over the CUSA side is stronger basketball. However, our basketball team could use some room to grow, so perhaps this division will allow that.
A few years back, Lynn Hickey stated that Conference USA was her ideal conference for UTSA. I wonder if in any of the scenarios she dreamt of, if this quick ascent ever occurred to her. She has reached a height that could never have reasonably been expected.
UTSA isn’t at the AQ-level like the Big XII. Conference USA or Mountain West is the pinnacle of possibility. Now that this looks to be happening, who knows what 20 years will look like? The important thing to keep in mind is not necessarily how this glob of a merger will end up being configured, but that UTSA is now aligned with these schools. Maybe in 10 years, there is a move back to regional conferences, UTSA will be at that level where they will be considered as a serious candidate, it’s a status thing.
I am a bit all over the place, excited and still drunk, but what’s happening next? Looks like CUSA is going to go to a 12 team conference, two divisions as they have been for a few years now. UNT, La Tech and UTSA to group with the three private schools in the west, Rice, Tulsa and Tulane. The east will have UAB, Southern Miss, East Carolina, Marshall and add FIU. The sixth team is a mystery. There have been some rumors about Middle Tennessee State and even more about UNC- Charlotte. Problem with Charlotte is they can’t play CUSA football until 2015. How would that work?
Based on the UT BOR agenda, it sounds like Utah State and San Jose State will get added to Mountain West with UTEP sliding over. This gets them to 11 football schools, which is undesirable. You would think they would get to 12 so they could create divisions and a conference championship. I don’t know who they would add. This was why I thought UTSA might fit here, but the document clearly state Conference USA.
The only other FBS candidates would be Idaho and New Mexico State. I doubt any of the higher level FCS teams have received interest, i.e. Montana.
So what happens to our good friends in San Marcos? It seems pretty clear that the Sunbelt is in their future. Not the preferred option, but not terrible, either. It looks like they will be stuck without any Texas rivals. Playing an out of conference game each year would be cool, but not likely for a while. Not to go all UT-re:A&M, but we are booked for a few years.
These are all just a scattering of thoughts, my excited brain unable to organize them.
I do need to say one thing, thank god for Lynn Hickey.
None of this would have happened without her. She has played every hand correctly; she couldn’t have possibly done a better job. Be thankful for her, Roadrunners, it’s my guess she won’t be with us much longer. Over the last three years her resume has gone from impressive to completely amazing. I know she loves it here, but it is only a matter of time before someone steps up big and woos her away.
That’s okay, she’s accomplished her goal.
Editor extraordinaire, UTSA grad student. Twitter