Posts Tagged ‘Sun Belt’

The Probable Implosion of C-USA

Posted: January 18, 2016 in Uncategorized
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C-USA’s television contract expires at the end of the 2015/16 athletic season.  Change awaits.  Enough change that C-USA ceases to exist.

FOX currently holds the broadcast rights to C-USA football.  Given the small to medium media markets found in C-USA, I find unlikely that a bidding war breaks out between FOX, ESPN or even ROOT Sports to land the C-USA broadcasting rights.  Broadcast interest in C-USA football may be nonexistent.

The media markets of note are Rice, UTEP, UNC-Charlotte, UTSA, FIU and to a lesser extent UAB (returning for another try at establishing a football program) and FAU (Boca Raton is close enough to Miami to warrant consideration.  Sort of).  And, no, I’m not about to claim that Houston (Rice) or San Antonio (UTSA) is on par with L.A or NYC television/radio markets.  C-USA schools are strictly of local interest that results in not much national interest.

I will dare to use geography (having long ago left the realm of college football) to claim potential interest leading to invitation that may lie elsewhere.  But, geography may be the undoing of C-USA as much as an expiring television contract and general lack of interest.   UTEP to FIU or FAU is several thousand miles.  ODU to Rice is also a long flight.  Include the cost of travel with the cold fact of finding a mere 15,000 people in attendance at many a C-USA football game, and you will hear the unmistakeable painful moan of athletic departments struggling to finance football programs few seem interested in.  Or simply put, boarding a football team, coaching staff and all that gear on an airplane is expensive.

The MAC and Sun Belt are the two primary conferences finding value in C-USA football.  MTSU, WKU and Marshall would fit well within the confines of the MAC.  The MAC currently holds thirteen football schools.  Fourteen seems a nice round number.  I lean towards Marshall given football history, attendance and the fact that Huntington, West Virginia makes travel sense for MAC schools.

Eleven football schools make the Sun Belt.  I anticipate fourteen as the ultimate membership goal.  Rice and UTEP bring stadium capacity.  Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss bring the passion that is southern football.  But wait.  Coastal Carolina joins Sun Belt football in 2107.  At that time, the Sun Belt will stretch from Texas to South Carolina.  Ouch.  Why ouch?  The aforementioned small crowds coupled with expensive travel.  That ouch.  The Sun Belt must form along the Gulf.  Best choices come from the following group:  FAU, FIU, UAB, Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss.

Could the Mountain West take a school or two?  Yes.  The MW has discussed and shelved (momentarily) the inclusion of Rice and UTEP.  UTEP was once part of the long ago WAC as are most of the MW schools.  Rice offers the coupling of a travel school with UTEP.  The geography of the Mountain West makes the inclusion of Rice financially manageable.  Several of the Mountain division schools (Air Force, UNM, CSU, Wyoming) are within a reasonable distance of Houston.  Frankly, UTEP and Rice joining either the Sun Belt or MAC doesn’t hold much attraction for either school given the lack of similar football facilities found in those two conferences.

As college baseball and softball wind down, prepare for the tumult that will be the destruction of C-USA.