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Herd AD anticipates call from C-USA

From Staff and Associated Press Reports

Conference USA may be poised to shore up its gridiron future by luring the flagship football program of the Mid-American Conference into the fold.

Marshall is expecting an invitation to join C-USA in the near future. Thundering Herd athletic director Bob Marcum said he received a telephone call Wednesday from one of C-USA's consultants, who said a league official would contact him within the next several days.

"I think (an impending invitation) is certainly the reason for the call," Marcum said. "There's a lot of things that you have to look into. It's really nice for Conference USA to consider Marshall. I think it speaks well of our university."

The Tampa Tribune reported Wednesday that Marshall and four other schools — Southern Methodist, Rice and Tulsa of the Western Athletic Conference and MAC football member Central Florida — would be invited to join Conference USA.

The conference is forming contingency plans for the expected departure of Louisville, Cincinnati, DePaul and Marquette to the Big East. Army is leaving Conference USA after the 2004 season.

With Boston College's recent announcement that it would follow in the footsteps of Miami and Virginia Tech and defect from the Big East to the ACC, more tremors may be pending. Widespread reports have speculated that the Big East may pluck South Florida from C-USA to plug the gap created by the Eagles' sudden departure.

"It remains inappropriate to speculate on particular members that might be leaving or joining the conference," C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said in a statement. "We are genuinely excited about the opportunities this change represents and are well prepared."

Two years ago, Marshall turned down consideration from C-USA to become a football-only member because the Herd couldn't find a suitable league for its other sports.

Marcum declined to say if Marshall would accept an invitation, saying other university officials would make that decision with his input.

Marshall has won five of six Mid-American Conference football championships and has played in each of the league's six championship games. Since beginning MAC play in 1997, the Thundering Herd are 48-8 in conference games.

02.23.07 10:48 AM

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