Leagues consider football alliance

Whether the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA form some sort of football-only alliance, as has been rumored, could be known as early as next week, when the nation’s athletic directors get together Monday and Tuesday in Dallas for their annual meeting.

Both conferences would remain separate in sports other than football but could agree to some sort of working arrangement in football that could include a championship game between the two.

And because the Mountain West is expected to have 10 football-playing members next year and C-USA should have 12, UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood said a decision would have to be made whether to go with a 22-team setup or add two schools and even out the numbers.

“I’m guessing 24,” Livengood said. “We wouldn’t (necessarily) add anybody, but we are discussing scenarios. With 24, it could be four six-team pods.”

The Mountain West is trying to position itself as a player on the national scene now that schools are changing conferences and many others are considering that action.

“This isn’t the time to be sitting back,” Livengood said.

Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were said to be headed to the Pac-12, although the Pac-12 announced Tuesday it does not intend to expand. A report said Missouri has been invited to join the Southeastern Conference, and speculation suggests the Atlantic Coast Conference will make a pitch to Notre Dame.

The Big 12 Conference could break apart, or what’s left of it could merge with what remains of the Big East Conference, which will lose Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC and, according to The Associated Press, could watch Connecticut and Rutgers defect.

“I think at the end of the day, we’re going to end up with four superconferences,” Livengood said.

Big East football officials from the six remaining schools pledged Tuesday night “to move forward together.” Texas Christian, which is supposed to switch from the Mountain West to the Big East next year, also was part of the meeting.

But whether the Horned Frogs leave the Mountain West for a possibly uncertain future in the Big East is a matter of conversation in the MWC.

Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said it would be up to the conference’s board of directors whether to ask TCU to reconsider.

“I have had a lot of conversations with TCU,” Thompson told the Idaho Statesmen. “Specifically inviting them back is not my position. But it is being strongly considered and would probably — probably emphasized — be endorsed by the Mountain West board of directors.”

As for a Mountain West alliance with Conference USA, many issues wouldneed to be settled, such as television and bowl contracts.

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas executive director Tina Kunzer-Murphy said her contracts with the Mountain West and Pac-12 have two years remaining but could be altered if memberships change. The bowl has the first choice from the Mountain West and the fifth selection from the Pac-12.

“We have a great relationship with the Pac-12 and the Mountain West, and I hope we survive once this is all over,” Kunzer-Murphy said. “I know we will, but we have to wait and see like everybody else, which is a little frustrating.”

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.

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