Can anyone say terrible idea? Yahoo! Sports is reporting that leaders from Division 1-AA (FCS) Appalachian St. are currently in talks with Conference USA, and have been for the last year. It was also recently rumored that App St. was a potential candidate for expansion for the Sun Belt Conference, but athletic director Charlie Cobb dispelled that by saying he didn't know about any talks with the SBC.
For those who don't know, the Appalachian St. Mountaineers have been a mainstay at the top of Division 1-AA football for years. In fact, they won three consecutive national titles in 2005, 2006, and 2007, and they were "that team" that knocked off the Michigan Wolverines in the Big House back in 2007.The school competes at the division 1 level in other sports, and is currently a member of the Southern Conference in non-football sports. Appalachian St. is located in Boone, NC., and has an enrollment of roughly 20,000 students. The city of Boone had a reported population of 17,122 in 2010.
Obviously, the only reason Appalachian St. is appealing to any FBS conference is for its potential football value. But, let's be honest here. No FCS school comes into FBS play, and maintains the success they experienced at the level below. It just doesn't happen. It takes time to build yourself into a solid competitor. So beyond that, what does Appalachian St. bring to the table. In what way do they make Conference USA a better conference?
Will Appalachian St. be the school that gives FoxSports, ESPN, or CBS a reason to dish out millions of more dollars in TV revenues? Do they even bring a TV market with them? Boone, NC is located in the western part of North Carolina, and is surrounded by cities whose TV sets are dominated by well known programs. Boone is roughly 100 miles NW of Charlotte, 160 miles W of Chapel Hill and Durham, and about 160 NE of Knoxville, TN.
Logistically, the school fits in quite well with others in C-USA. Their geographic location fits perfectly with more than a couple schools in the eastern division, and their athletic facilities are within acceptable range as well. Granted, 25k for a football stadium in a conference like C-USA is a little small, but others have gotten by with 32-35k so that's something that can be worked on.
Still though, the question has yet to be answered: In what way do they add value to Conference USA? Honestly, I'm not trying to bash the school. But, from a Conference USA fan's point of view, I'm trying to understand why the conference would consider adding a school that doesn't exactly add a ton of value. I want this conference to succeed. I want this conference to be competitive, and to be given the respect it deserves.
The additions made in this recent expansion period have all brought something extra to the table. Some brought TV markets, some brought solid football or basketball programs, some brought top notch facilities, and much more. There were reasons the additions were made. Somebody please tell what reason there is to add Appalachian St., because I'm dying to know.Follow @anthonysalom