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You canít blame Britton
Banowsky for not being proactive. Itís not his fault Conference USA
refuses to think outside the box.
When Banowsky revealed
last week at the leagueís annual spring meetings that he proposed the
possibility of expanding to 16 teams in Destin last year, it dispelled a
pretty big assumption that many around Greenville have had about the
Clearly, he isnít just a
champion of the status quo who is completely obsessed with Texas.
The problem with C-USA
isnít the leadership in its conference office. Itís the leadership at
its member institutions that lacks a cohesive athletics vision.
Perhaps thatís because
athletics arenít an influential force on many of the campuses around
C-USA. There is no other explanation for why conference presidents
refused to even consider the possibility of upping membership to 16.
Wonder if they are
regretting that decision today?
It is clear that
conference expansion again could alter the structure of C-USA, and once
again the league will find itself reacting out of necessity for survival
if it does.
In other words, C-USA will
have to select from the Division I dregs should it lose one or more
members to more predatory leagues.
But maybe it didnít have
to be that way. Maybe C-USA could have been the more carnivorous
conference last year by taking a preemptive step towards assuring its
validity in major college football.
Seriously, it shouldnít
have been too much to ask conference presidents and athletics directors
to form a task force to research and propose expansion scenarios for
consideration. Or, if that would have required too much effort, they
could have simply hired a consulting firm to do the work for them.
Iím guessing either
scenario would have required too much time and thought. Either that or
most of C-USA is completely content with relegation to Tuesday and
Wednesday night football broadcasts on ESPN, staged in mostly empty
There is no question that,
by increasing to 16, it would have called for C-USA to significantly
expand its geographic footprint. Big deal. There are ways of doing that
without stretching the coffers any thinner than they already are.
For starters, adding four
viable football programs (Troy? Middle Tennessee? Nevada? and... donít
laugh... Boise State?) would have increased revenue streams from
postseason bowls and television. With more bowls and a better TV deal,
perhaps that would offset any additional travel costs league schools
might incur from expansion.
It most certainly would if
league presidents, in a 16-school scenario, decided to eliminate
mandatory cross-divisional play until each sport reached the postseason.
Truthfully, that would be the smart way to go.
But itís obviously not the
route C-USA school presidents wanted to take last year. It would have
required too much creative thinking and extra work with scheduling for
them to do so.
Even so, itís no secret
that several C-USA institutions would leave for a BCS Automatic
Qualifier conference tomorrow, and nothing outside of the league earning
AQ status itself could prevent that. So in that regard, perhaps taking
the proactive expansion approach would have been futile regardless.
Even in a climate where
conference expansion is the hottest topic in sports, no one can predict
exactly how the next shift is going to play out. We could be looking at
the ĎBig Oneí or something as uneventful as the Big Ten adding one
school to secure a football championship game.
If the latter occurs,
C-USAís member administrators clearly missed the mark. It would have
been an opportunity to upgrade the conference's football profile and
enhance its appeal to bowl and television executives.