MAC's Assistant Commish Weighs In On Conference Realignment

By
Grant Burkhardt

Dateline
Updated Wed, Feb 8, 2012 1:37 pm

CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy reported Tuesday that the University of Memphis is in final negotiations to become the newest member of the Big East Conference.

Memphis has scheduled a press conference for Wednesday to announce the news, McMurphy added.

Memphis' exodus leaves Conference-USA with only eight football schools, after Houston, Central Florida and Southern Methodist announced they would leave for the Big East in the fall. C-USA is reported to be in talks with the Mountain West Conference (also gutted by realignment) about a merger that would combine the two conferences.

This latest move, in theory, brings conference realignment back to the doorstep of the Mid-American Conference. Will the MAC be aggressive in pursuit of one or maybe two C-USA teams? Assistant MAC Commissioner Ken Mather told WOUB that the conference is stable.

"We're now at 14 teams for football," Mather said. "We feel really good with where we are for this 2012 season and being with 14 for membership."

The MAC most recently added the University of Massachusetts (595 miles from the conference headquarters in Cleveland, Oh) as its 14th football school, but has former ties with Marshall (a MAC member from 1997-2005) and could potentially add another to make an even 16 teams.

Marshall, currently a full C-USA member, still has its football rivalry with Ohio and played the Bobcats and Akron in basketball in the 2011-12 non-conference season.

The only potential add-on, because of distance and regionality, is East Carolina (654 miles from Cleveland). In its last six seasons, ECU is 44-35 overall, has played in five bowl games in that time and won the Conference-USA Championship in 2008.

Update: McMurphy reported on Wednesday that Conference USA reached out to current MAC football member Temple about joining the league.


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