By Brian Murphy
Conference USA reaction
A statement from C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky: "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."
Boise State reaction
Boise State Interim Athletic Director Curt Apsey told the Statesman on Monday afternoon that no conference has contacted Boise State about joining and that the Broncos have not applied to any league.
"You focus on what you can control, which is us. And if you do that, I think you become more attractive," Apsey said.
Apsey said it is important for the Mountain West to be exploring ways to improve.
"It's all about being proactive. I don't think you sit back and wait from a conference standpoint," Apsey said. "It's important, if you can, to put your conference in the best light as it pertains to your ability to make money for the conference."
The Mountain West and Conference USA are again considering a football-only merger in response to conference realignment across the country, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson told the Idaho Statesman on Monday.
“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.”
More on the possible merger below.
Thompson has also reached out to members of the Big 12 and Big East about joining his 10-team league, if realignment leaves those schools without a home.
Thompson said the No. 1 option for those schools — the so-called leftovers if Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech bolt for the Pac-16 and the ACC continues to take teams from the Big East – is to join together under the Big East or Big 12 banner.
“What I’m hearing from most parties is the Big 12 and Big East institutions that might not get invited (to other BCS leagues), their No. 1 option is they are interested in getting together. That is the highest option on those institutions’ part.”
Thompson said he has had extensive conversations with current Mountain West member TCU, which is slated to leave for the Big East next year.
“I have had a lot of conversations with TCU through this process. Specifically inviting them back to the league is not my position,” Thompson said, noting that only the league’s board of directors can issue invitations. “But it is being strongly considered and would probably — probably emphasized — be endorsed by the Mountain West Board of Directors.”
He said he has not talked with former member BYU, who left the conference this year for football independence and the West Coast Conference.
As for a Mountain West-Conference USA merger, Thompson said it would be a football-only “federation” that would help the leagues with television contracts, marketing and stability and corporate sponsorships. The “league” would stretch from the East Coast to Hawaii.
“It’s one of several options that should be discussed in this day and age,” he said.
Thompson said it would be best if the leagues were symmetrical, meaning each had 12 members as C-USA does right now. The Mountain West will have 10 next year when TCU leaves and Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii join.
He described the model as one like the AFL-NFL model, where the league champions meet for a title.
“Two business-as-usual, quasi-separate leagues getting together,” he said.
Thompson said athletic directors from both leagues are discussing the idea, which is in the “conceptual” stage.
He said there is no definitive time table, but the league is “dealing with several options simultaneously,” including talking with the Big East and Big 12 schools while also considering a merger with Conference USA.
“All you can do is talk to institutions and find out what their intentions are,” Thompson said.
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