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View from the East
Friday, December 9, 2011

By Al Myatt

Sands of Conference USA still shifting


Injuries, mistakes made for bumpy season
Sands of Conference USA still shifting
Ladies and their diehard fans primed for VCU
UMass holds off Pirates
Pirates look for more Morrow
Audio: Jeff Lebo & Darrius Morrow on UMass
Changing system lessens Big East’s appeal
Conference USA Bowl Schedule & Scoreboard
Final BCS Standings
Harris/AP/Coaches Polls
Yesterday not good to Morrow
ECU-Charlotte Gallery
Old Dominion grinds down Pirates
Focus turns to recruiting, 2012 season

C-USA Standings

(Through games of 12.03.11)

Conference USA record reflects
regular season games only

East Division







West Division







C-USA Bowl Schedule

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

View the Bonesville Mobile Alpha version of this page.

Britton Banowsky may be afraid to answer his telephone, check his email or watch ESPN's SportsCenter. The news lately has not been good for Conference USA and its mild-mannered commissioner.

Houston, Southern Methodist and Central Florida comprise the latest wave of defections, effective 2013, and surely have sent Banowsky scurrying for his list of contingency members.

C-USA needs to have 12 schools in order to have a league championship football game, just one of the repercussions of the recent raid by the Big East.

Just days ago, a merger between C-USA and the Mountain West looked like a promising development in the aftermath of East Carolina's apparent rejection by the Big East.

The reality of the quicksand that is the college athletics landscape at the moment is that ECU could still get a Big East invitation. The decision of Air Force to remain in the Mountain West rather than fall in with the Big East's western sweep could send some dominoes falling in the Pirates' direction. Navy may be more reluctant to join without its fellow service academy accompanying it and that may mean a space at the table for another Eastern team.

ECU athletics director Terry Holland has been monitoring the pulse of the situation. He said the Big East wanted to address its Western expansion but indicated the league might evaluate additional expansion afterwards. The implication was that ECU's opportunity to join the Big East could possibly ensue.

There are still enough teams in a combined C-USA and Mountain West to make a mutual alignment functional but the Pirates would have to consider a Big East bid if one is forthcoming.

The situation most beneficial to the Pirates may depend on potential changes to the structure of the Bowl Championship Series. ECU wants to be in the best possible position financially and maintain its appealing nonconference regional football scheduling relationships.

BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock said there may be as many as 30 different models for a restructured BCS that will be examined next year.

The appeal of the Big East for ECU was the league's automatic qualifying berth in the BCS and its corresponding revenue. If the BCS system changes, it could affect the Pirates in terms of what conference affiliation would be most beneficial.

If a Big East invitation comes before the BCS determines its course for the future, ECU officials will have to project their most favorable position and act accordingly.

The Big East has out-USAed Conference USA. The Big East's footprint will span the country in 2013. A potential trip from Connecticut to San Diego State is roughly 6,000 miles round trip. It's a good thing that no one in college athletics bothers to consult academicians about these matters. Missed class time isn't a factor when the almighty dollar is driving the bus.

Speaking of dollars, Southern Miss' win over Houston in the C-USA championship game cost the league between $10 and $13 million, according to various estimates as the Cougars were knocked out of a big payday from a BCS bowl. Golden Eagles coach Larry Fedora apparently will reap some personal benefits with a new, lucrative contract as Butch Davis's successor at North Carolina.

June Jones was briefly on the coaching carousel himself but his agent's understanding with Arizona State went awry and Jones is fortunate to be at SMU for the time being.

The situation was typical of the general uncertainty that pervades various dimensions of college athletics today.

Virtual playoff

A few years ago, Doug Groome organized a virtual bowl for ECU in a down year and actually raised some significant money for the Pirate Club in the process.

In response to some of the dissatisfaction generated by a rematch between Alabama and LSU in the BCS title game, I would like to join those who favor a 16-team playoff among current Football Bowl Subdivision members.

The format would be similar to the NCAA Tournament in basketball — the 11 conference champions and five at-large teams.

First-round games in the virtual playoff this season in my bracket:

  • Arkansas State (Sun Belt) at top-seeded LSU
  • Northern Illinois (MAC) at second-seeded Alabama
  • Louisiana Tech (WAC) at third-seeded Oklahoma State
  • West Virginia at fourth-seeded Stanford
  • Southern Miss at Oregon
  • Clemson at Arkansas
  • Texas Christian (Mountain West) at Boise State
  • Wisconsin at Kansas State.

If the higher seeds survived, the second round would have Kansas State vs. LSU, Boise State vs. Alabama, Arkansas vs. Oklahoma State and Oregon vs. Stanford. The second round would be the point at which the playoffs would move into the existing bowl structure with games at neutral sites.

The Oregon-Stanford winner would play the Kansas State-LSU winner on one side of the bracket in the semifinals and the Arkansas-Oklahoma State winner would meet the Boise State-Alabama winner in the other bracket.

As a fan, I would much rather see these teams progress toward a true national champion, determined on the field over the next few weeks, instead of hearing the talking heads on ESPN hyping the second coming of the game of the century, which won't take place until next month.

The second tier bowls would remain active and provide postseason opportunities for teams which didn't qualify for the playoffs. The playoff semifinals would be hosted by the Orange and Sugar Bowls in my 2011 model. The Rose Bowl would host the championship.

State Line Power Rankings™

South Carolina's win over Clemson provided some clarity as to the top spot among the FBS teams in the Carolinas. The problem with the next three spots is that Wake Forest beat N.C. State, North Carolina beat Wake Forest and State beat Carolina. The Deacons actually had a better ACC record (5-3) than the Wolfpack (4-4) or Tar Heels (3-5) but Wake played poorly in a regular-season-ending loss to Vanderbilt.

1. South Carolina ... The Gamecocks beat Clemson for the third straight time and will meet Nebraska in the postseason.

2. Clemson ... The Tigers bounced back from their loss in Columbia to take the ACC championship and will go bowling against West Virginia.

3. (tie) North Carolina ... Tar Heels dispatched Duke on Senior Day and face Missouri in Shreveport, LA, on Dec. 26.

3. (tie) N.C. State ... Miraculous winners against Maryland, the Wolfpack will travel to Charlotte for a Dec. 27 date with Louisville.

3. (tie) Wake Forest ... The Deacons saved their worst for last in the regular season but Mississippi State offers an opportunity for redemption.

6. East Carolina ... Pirates were a play or two away for much of a 5-7 season; recruiting is the focus now.

7. Duke ... The Blue Devils were better but only had a 3-9 record (1-7 ACC) to show for it.

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Al Myatt Archives

01/03/2012 02:39 AM


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