Should C-USA and Sun Belt schools form a new league? Yeah, probably

Tom Bragg/TWIWVS

This is a excerpt from the first TWIWVS Patreon newsletter. In the weeks since this published, the idea for Conference USA and Sun Belt Conference schools to realign in some way has picked up some steam in the media. To get more content like this, subscribe to TWIWVS on Patreon.

SHOULD C-USA DISSOLVE AND MARSHALL FIND A NEW CONFERENCE?

Yeah, probably. 

Conference realignment has been ruled by what is best for the television networks for all of this century, but I wouldn’t be stunned if the next round (whenever that is) features schools scrambling to keep costs down by aligning regionally. 

Marshall made the move from the tightly-packed Mid-American Conference to Conference USA 15 years ago and had plenty of good reasons (read: dollars) to do so. In 2020, however, the current Conference USA lineup sure feels doomed to fail with the economy collapsing and schools large and small left with giant craters in their budgets for athletics. As you can imagine, trekking from Huntington to places like El Paso and San Antonio ain’t cheap. Now do that not just for football and basketball but volleyball, soccer, softball, baseball — you get the idea, it adds up. 

I’m no college athletics administrator (though I do know a few), so my proposal certainly isn’t one you could take right to the schools and have them sign up. I do, however, think my idea would be a lot of fun. 

Simply blow up a conference (or two, in this case) to create a new conference. A few years ago our friends in the Mountain East Conference dug the hole and planned the funeral for the old WVIAC, and this would be similar to that. 

Here is how I would do it: Take the seven schools that play football in C-USA’s East Division — Marshall, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Western Kentucky, Charlotte, Middle Tennessee and Old Dominion — and have them joined by the five football schools from the Sun Belt Conference’s East Division — Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Troy and Coastal Carolina. The schools from the western halves of those conferences can fend for themselves, that’s not our focus here.

My plan gives you a 12-team league with all the schools being located south of the Mason-Dixon Line and east of the Mississippi River. There are some fun games to be made there and very doable road trips.

I’m not that old, but I am old enough to remember hating Appy State and Georgia Southern as a kid when I got to tag along with my aunt and uncle to Herd games at Fairfield Stadium and then the Joan once it was built in the early 90s. Getting those two back on the schedule every year would be a lot of fun for MU fans. Also, not that West Virginians need an excuse to travel to Myrtle Beach, but Coastal Carolina is right there and along with FIU and FAU would give my new mutant conference several beach trip options for Marshall folks and fans of other schools stuck somewhere without a beach. 

Let’s sell this some more. The footprint of The Mutant League (that’s what I’m calling this thing, deal with it) would sit right over the most fertile recruiting ground in the country (sorry, Texas and California) and as a coach you can go into living rooms and tell a recruit’s family that Huntington, West Virginia might not be all that close to home but that kid will be back in Georgia to play Georgia State or Georgia Southern — or back in Florida or Alabama or South Carolina when the Herd rolls through for Mutant League conference games. 

If the day comes (and it sure seems like it might sooner rather than later) when finances force administrators at these schools and in these athletic departments to start thinking about making a move, I humbly submit the Mutant League as a building block for a fun, region-based conference. As the current chairman of the Mutant League, however, I must say my eye is already wandering.

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