Conference USA Expansion
With the CUSA/MWC merger not looking likely to not happen, expansion will be the next step. When expansion does happen the big question will be whether they expand to 10 schools are 12 schools. For revenue sharing 10 schools would be the optimum number. To survive in the college world of super conferences 12 schools will be necessary. Here are some possible schools to join CUSA.
Florida International: One of the fastest rising programs in the country is the Panthers. FIU does not have a large operating budget, however being a top run program that could change quickly. FIU football had winning seasons and bowl invites in 2010 & 2011. FIU doesn’t offer much competition in baseball or basketball as of yet. The biggest reason why CUSA needs FIU is a constant presence in the state of Florida following the soon to be departure of UCF.
North Texas: The football team ahs played in seven bowl games since joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2001. The men’s basketball program has experienced notable success, making two NCAA tournament appearances in recent years and finishing with 20-plus wins for five straight seasons. With the fall 2011 opening of UNT’s new Apogee Stadium to host Mean Green football games, 12 of UNT’s 16 intercollegiate athletic teams practice and play in facilities that have been built since 2001. The biggest draw is the TV market. With the loss of SMU, CUSA needs a presence in the Dallas Metro Area.
Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs currently competes in the WAC. Competing in the WAC in 14 sports means constant trips to Nevada, California, and Idaho. Those constant trips are enough to run any athletic budget into the ground real quick. Playing closer to home would also allow for stronger crowds on the road. The football tam is up and coming as is the basketball program. La Tech has the capability to be competitive in the “new look” CUSA.
Florida Atlantic: Former Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger place FAU football on the map. It is up to Carl Pellini to now keep it there. The Owls basketball program has made a rapid ascent under Head Coach Mike Jarvis. Baseball at FAU is also on the rise. Like La Tech FAU has the ability to be competitive in this league. FAU would give CUSA a second team in the hotbed of talent in Florida.
By Leigh Reese