Word came out yesterday that Conference USA, after losing East Carolina and Tulane to the Big East, would add Middle Tennessee State and Florida Atlantic to its football membership, keeping such titles at 14.
Of course this set off rage on Twitter (the perfect storm, really) with many tweet and retweets, accusations, insinuations and assumptions pointing towards Western Kentucky and New Mexico State being added as to Conference USA as well. Why not? A 16-team field makes perfect sense. A utopia, if you will.
When reached by phone yesterday, NMSU Athletics Director McKinley Boston simply said it wasn’t true. That he had no such contact with C-USA, and that such rumblings were pure speculation. For a story on the matter, click here.
This, of course, should not be taken as surprise. If Conference USA was interested, they would have invited NMSU earlier this year as opposed to Old Dominion, a school located in Norfolk Va. that currently plays football on the FCS level (the Monarchs will become an FBS member in 2013).
And, just an opinion of course, but as long as UTEP’s a Conference USA member, the Aggies having a chance at league membership just doesn’t seem favorable. The Miners have long balked at being in the same conference as New Mexico State. Unless there’s a change in that sentiment, or UTEP picks up and leaves for the Mountain West Conference, the Aggies wouldn’t seem destined for C-USA status.
But, with that, one wouldn’t think an Aggie move back to the Sun Belt would be too far-fetched either. What’s changed in that league since the last time realignment hit full throttle? A lot, actually.
For one, Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic were both Sun Belt teams, and are now expected to leave. The conference’s football membership will now be eight — down from its previous number of 10, while 12 such members would open the chances of a football championship game. But they need bodies to accomplish these goals, too.
Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson is also the former commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference. And while the Sun Belt wasn’t keen on bringing the Aggies in previously, that was with a different membership structure within the league, and with a different leadership council at NMSU. Barbara Couture, the former president of New Mexico State and the chair of the WAC, has been since relieved of such positions. Perhaps some new blood and leadership can breath life and spur some conversation amongst past friends.
The one thing we do know? NMSU can’t play independent football for long. And the WAC as a non-football league might not be for long either.
And we’re also aware conference realignment isn’t done either. With that, we wouldn’t rule out the Aggies future in this regard.
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