It's simple math, really. There's no doubt that Air Force's decision to stay in the Mountain West Conference was the first good news that the MWC or C-USA has had in a while. But, now that the Falcons are staying, a quick glance at a map reveals that there are now 9 football schools that should be grouped in a "West" division and only eight football schools in the "East" division. Assuming UTEP plays in the western division, as UTEP AD Bob Stull hinted at last week, the divisions would look something like this:
The Mountain Division (West)
2. UTEP Miners
5. UNLV Rebels
9. Hawaii Rainbows (Football Only)
The USA Division (East)
3. Rice Owls
4. UAB Blazers
7. Southern Miss. Golden Eagles
In football, the West teams would have 8 divisional games and the East teams would only have 7. Would a merged league allow one division to place a team in a championship game after playing one less game? That seems unlikely to me. Each school should have the same conference path to a league title, right?
So, it seems logical to assume that the MWCUSA would consider adding one football only school to the East Division. Assuming that the Big East adds Temple in lieu of Air Force, you'd have to think that the C-USA would look at Louisiana Tech, the 2011 WAC Champions, as a potential football member. Or, would the league want to regain a presence in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex with North Texas and their shiny new stadium? Who else would be a candidate? Maybe another Florida school to replace UCF?
As far as hoops go, there are several unanswered questions. Usually, a school plays a 16 game conference schedule with home and homes against each school in their division. With two 8 team divisions, that leaves 14 divisional games and two wild card slots for cross-divisional games. While that's not terrible, I hoped for more. I want to see Memphis take on New Mexico and UNLV. I want to see UTEP take on Tulsa, Marshall, and Memphis. Would the league consider an 18 game schedule so that each squad could face half of the other division every third year? Or is that too many conference games?
The best approach to have right now is probably to not ask so many questions. The next focus of any C-USA or MWC conference school should be to watch the Big East to see what their next move will be. Media hype and logic indicate that Temple is next in line for a Big East invite. But, what if the league opts for Memphis or East Carolina? Only after the Big East hits 12 football schools can the C-USA and MWC really focus on the logistics of assembling a new league and getting it off the ground.