CAROLINA & CONFERENCE USA
View from the East
Friday, August 10, 2012
By Al Myatt
Holland: 'Merger was not a good idea'
ECU AD Terry Holland
(ECU Media Relations
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The proposed merger
between Conference USA and the Mountain West did not materialize.
The thinking was that it would have created a block of teams too
large for college football's power brokers to ignore.
But with the Bowl
Championship Series apparently morphing into a four-team playoff without
automatic qualifiers guaranteed to six leagues, the concept of a
mega-conference moved to the back burner.
Also entering into the
equation was the potential loss of basketball revenue from the NCAA
Tournament, which pays off in shares that depend on a league's past
performances. A new league may have started from scratch in terms of
NCAA basketball proceeds, a factor counter to the revenue-generating
goals of a super conference.
"I've always felt that the
merger was not a good idea," said East Carolina athletic director Terry
Holland. "A coalition where we coordinate things would be very
beneficial to both groups. Playing each other in bowl games and that
type of thing is important. A merger would have taken away that
opportunity to play each other.
"I do think there's some
synergy and some things we can do together in the future but right now
each conference is just worried about fixing their own problems first
and then dealing with what we can do together in the future."
C-USA is entering its last
football roundup with Central Florida, Memphis, Houston and Southern
Methodist in the mix. Those institutions have opted for greener grass in
the Big East.
Holland said he was
disappointed in particular to lose UCF.
"That was developing into
an excellent rivalry for us," he said. "We've always had a great rivalry
with Southern Miss. Obviously, they're staying. Memphis, the football
rivalry was good but not necessarily great because they've been down the
last few years. But certainly in basketball, they were one of those
programs that you had to be ready to perform or they could make you look
very bad. So they force you to be better. (I'm) disappointed to lose
them as well.
"... Houston did have that
good run with Casey Keenum. They certainly are a good football program
but I think the teams we're replacing them with will eventually be as
good as those teams. Only time will tell though. It's easy to say that
C-USA will add Charlotte,
Florida International, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Old Dominion and
Texas-San Antonio. Those schools are scheduled to begin competing in
C-USA in 2013. Charlotte and Old Dominion are planning to be up to speed
in football beginning in 2015.
"The teams that are coming
into the league are all committed to competing at the Conference USA
level and above," Holland said. "They're looking to move as far up the
ladder as they possibly can, just as we are. I think having some votes
in the East will eventually make a difference, enabling us to probably
get more championships played here or at least in the area, at least
close enough that our fans can go to the games and the championship
Appalachian State has been
mentioned as a possible addition to C-USA. The Mountaineers and Pirates
open their respective football seasons in Greenville on Sept. 1 at noon.
"I think Appalachian would
be a good addition at some point in the future," Holland said. "I don't
think we can go too fast down that particular road with the teams that
are moving up (to the Football Bowl Subdivision). We'll see how Old
Dominion and Charlotte do, particularly on our side (current East
Division) and San Antonio on the other side of the equation. We'll see
how those teams moving up actually do. I think they've all three got
great potential. They're all in metropolitan areas. They have a big fan
base. They haven't fully developed that fan base for football yet in all
of those cases, except possibly for San Antonio."
The Roadrunners, coached
by Larry Coker, who led Miami to a national championship in 2001, played
their inaugural game last season before 56,743 at the Alamodome,
defeating Northeastern State, 31-3. The previous record for attendance
at a program's opening game was 49,212, set by South Florida in 1997.
San Antonio averaged 35,521 for six home games in 2011. The Roadrunners
were 4-2 at home, 0-4 on the road.
"It will be interesting to
see these teams develop," Holland said. "I'd love to see Appalachian
State in our conference, not necessarily in Conference USA but wherever
we might be in the future."
ECU made a well-publicized
but unsuccessful push for membership in the Big East. That league has
sustained substantial defection, which led to its recruitment of the
four departing C-USA teams. The Big East doesn't appear as attractive
for the Pirates with the imminent revisions in the college football
postseason which will become effective in 2014.
"The Big East is still
ahead of Conference USA," Holland said. "We've got to sort of approach
it on two fronts. We've got to make our conference as good as the Big
East and the other conferences involved — at least try to do that or
we've got to continue to look for an opportunity in another conference
because we do want to play the very best competition that we can play."
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08/10/2012 02:07 AM