Should ECU declare its independence?
tcoutouzis Feb 11, 9:03 a.m.
Terry Holland said in his radio interview the other day that the merger with the MWC is going forward and that we are on board. He said that he is still trying to court the SEC to bring them into NC. It looks like we are stuck with Mount USA.
The Big East has now become the Island of Misfit Toys. Talk about a spiral downward.
Hokies94 Feb 10, 4:56 p.m.
I agree in what Ken wrote in his second major paragraph. With so many unknowns and the many variables, ECU would be better suited to sit and wait.
Ken D. Feb 9, 9:10 a.m.
As for BCS conference affiliation, I fully expect that the BCS will be gone, if not by this season then surely by the next. And when that happens, what are the chances that Boise State will want to stay in a conference where their schedule will be only on a par (if that), strength-wise, with the Mountain West it left, and where they have no regional rivalries and no major bowl tie-in?
This wonderful national conference Marinatto cobbled together is likely to collapse like a house of cards. I don't think ECU should be tying themselves now to schools they have no natural affinity with, when the landscape is likely to be dramatically different in the near future. Even if they have to play one season in a 7 team conference (assuming UTEP bolts to the MWC), I think they should keep their options open. That's better, IMO, than a massive rearrangement of schedules that may prove unnecessary a year from now.
Ken D. Feb 9, 8:59 a.m.
I think the market where C-USA has been hurt most is in Florida. UCF had the largest fanbase of any team in the conference. While other schools are in bigger markets, they don't have nearly as many fans, and tv networks take that into account. They know, for example, that while Temple may be in a large market, they have a small fanbase that's not terribly supportive of its team. That's why they were kicked out of the Big East in the first place.
Network execs would look at a football game between Temple and FIU and expect that the only people who would watch that on TV are the families and friends of the players. The C-USA tv deals pretty much assume only regional coverage of games, which is why they don't pay much. The payout to conference teams for football and basketball combined is only around $1 million each per year (the ACC got about $13 million before adding Syracuse and Pitt).
I believe the net effect on Big East payouts will also be negative after the dust settles. They may now be national in size, but they have no rivalries, and there won't be much interest in a Rutgers - San Diego State football game. And they now have to divide their TV revenues 12 ways instead of 8. The Big East moves were less about growing their market (as they are trying to spin it) and more about surviving.
Bottom line, The total net revenue that current C-USA members can expect to get in the future from tv and bowl tie-ins is small enough that it can't, or shouldn't, be a major factor in future conference alignment/expansion decisions.
Pirates of the East Feb 8, 2:38 p.m.
Ken, I dont think CUSA is in as bad of a shape as you say. If CUSA can get Temple they are leaps and bounds better than Memphis, UCF to FIU is a lateral move, if CUSA wants the Dallas market agian it can add North Texas, than add UL-Layfette, L. Tech, or Army for the fourth.
If CUSA adds the above teams, it adds the Philly, and Miami markets and loses Orlando and Memphis. And as for the caliber of teams if North Texas can up its game, football will be close to the same and basketball may increase.
Ken D. Feb 8, 10:17 a.m.
As I said on the news side, I think the above 8-team league may be the best ECU can do right now. But it might be smarter to go independent for a couple of years and wait for the Big East to collapse.
I can't help but wonder if there would have been a chance, when the ACC added Syracuse and Pitt, for eastern C-USA teams to deal a death blow to the Big East. If ECU, Southern Miss, UAB, UCF and Memphis had joined with Cincy, Louisville and South Florida, they would have had a pretty good conference in both football and basketball that made good geographic sense in the bargain.
I doubt WVU would have come along, because they had realistic hopes of getting into either the SEC or Big XII at the time. But the others had to be more than a little skittish. Instead, the Big East was allowed to survive, if only temporarily, and took C-USA down with it. And all in pursuit of a BCS AQ that probably won't exist in a year or less.
I think there was a lost opportunity there.
Ken D. Feb 8, 9:34 a.m.
I'm afraid C-USA has been irreparably damaged by the Big East moves. And I'm afraid that the better conferences have already rendered their judgment about the attractiveness of ECU as a partner. The weakest of the BCS conferences has had plenty of opportunity to add the Pirates in recent years, and they chose 7 other C-USA teams ahead of them. Even now, if they were to add a 12th school, I think they would opt for Tulsa instead of ECU to balance their league better.
I also believe that UTEP will try to get into the Mountain West, since all their closest C-USA partners have left. With only 6 schools left at that point, I'm afraid it's going to be every man for himself, and Terry Holland needs to start trying to cut the best deal he can for ECU.
And when I say the best deal, I am explicitly saying there are no good deals left to be had. I don't think it will help ECU to be thinking in terms of TV markets anymore. Neither Temple nor FIU will deliver a significant part of their market. They just don't have many fans. TH needs to think of what's best in other ways, like travel, rivalries, and natural cultural and academic affinity with its conference partners.
I'd be talking to App State and Georgia Southern about their intentions re the FBS. If they want to move up, I'd ask Southern Miss, UAB and Marshall to join up and invite Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee State to be part of an eight school all sports conference. You could probably keep the name C-USA since nobody else will be using it, though that would seem kind of pretentious.
I wish it had turned out differently, but in the expansion wars I'm afraid ECU was not among the winners.
Pirates of the East Feb 7, 10:22 p.m.
Thats why I think CUSA should do whatever it takes to get Temple (Philly) and FIU (Miami), those are good programs in large cities. And if CUSA wants to pull a Big East and add mediocre programs in large cities we could invite North Texas which is in Dallas, and that might keep UTEP happy.
Ken D. Feb 7, 8:33 p.m.
In light of the schools (and markets) that are committed to leaving C-USA, I wonder what the impact will be on tie-ins with bowls and TV contracts.
The two highest paying bowls now tied to C-USA are the Liberty in Memphis ($1.7MM per team payout) and the Ticket City in Dallas ($1.1MM). And losing markets like Dallas/Ft Worth, Memphis, Orlando and Houston can't help with TV. I realize Rice is in Houston also, but c'mon. Even if all their fans watch, it can't add up to 100,000.
This is not looking good.
Ken D. Feb 7, 6:49 p.m.
With the moves the Big East is making, I'm hearing more and more people voice the sentiment that ECU should consider independence. As teams and markets get stripped away from C-USA, at some point I wonder if there's any reason for the Mountain West to continue to consider a merger with what's left. I would not be surprised if UTEP were to apply on its own to join the MWC. Geographically, it's certainly where they belong.
If that were to happen, C-USA would be left with only seven schools, including Rice, Tulane and Marshall. That's not much of a base to rebuild a conference from. If they were to convince App State and Georgia Southern to move up in class, would anyone say the resulting league would be as good as the C-USA the Pirates weren't thrilled with in the first place?
I could even see Southern Miss, Tulsa and UAB deciding that the C-USA ship is sinking, and asking the Sunbelt to take them in. Things don't seem to be going the way I imagine Terry Holland envisioned a year ago.
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