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Chuck Landon: No news of C-USA expansion a good thing

May. 28, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Know what the best news was from the recent Conference USA meetings?

What wasn't said.

Namely, no talk about expanding the league back to 16 teams after East Carolina, Tulsa and Tulane leave in 2014.

Oh, sure, commissioner Britton Banowsky mentioned the "16-team model" for about the bajillionth time. But did the C-USA athletic directors say a word about future expansion during their meetings?

"It wasn't discussed a single time," said Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick.

Thank goodness.

When the league's East Division is composed of Marshall, Old Dominion, Charlotte, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic and Florida International, which is the configuration I favor, then that will be enough.

And when a West Division of Southern Miss, UAB, UTEP, Rice, Louisiana Tech, North Texas and UT-San Antonio is complete, which is the other side I advocate, that will be enough as well.

C-USA doesn't need an additional two members.

There are two reasons for that opinion.

No. 1: The five remaining C-USA members, who have stayed the course while the seven others bolted for the boringly named American Athletic Conference, would be insane to agree to slicing another two pieces out of the league's revenue pie.

No. 2: There aren't two more schools worthy of invitations. Sure, I know Old Dominion keeps pounding the drum for nearby James Madison, but that's nothing more than a rim-shot. The Dukes simply don't bring the necessary qualifications.

Other schools that have been mentioned include Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette. Frankly, there's nothing enticing about either one. Neither Jonesboro, Ark., nor Lafayette, La., ever will be confused with such markets as Charlotte, Nashville, Miami or San Antonio.

The bottom line is C-USA has reinvented itself with nine new members.

That's enough.

No more talk of expansion is necessary.

GOOD MOVE: One piece of relevant news did come from the C-USA meetings. The shift from Wednesday and Saturday scheduling for men's league basketball games to Thursday and Saturday is a smart move.

It won't have much effect next season because 2014 will be a stand-alone year with C-USA having 16 members. But when the membership drops to 14 in 2015, the move will be important.

Here's how it will work.

When Marshall plays at Middle Tennessee State on a Thursday, the Herd will stay on the road and, then, play nearby Western Kentucky on the following Saturday. Or vice-versa. The same scenario applies for a trip to south Florida to play FAU and FIU.

"It cuts down on travel expenses," pointed out Hamrick. "It also cuts down on athletes' time away from class."

That's a win-win situation.

LET'S GO BOWLING: Conference USA has six bowl commitments in 2013 since it reportedly secured a berth in the Military Bowl against an ACC opponent.

But that number is likely to drop after next season. That's why the league is considering starting its own bowl game, according to CBSSports.com. It would be located at FAU's stadium in Boca Raton, Fla. A name and conference playing partner haven't been determined, but it appears to be an on-going process.

With the power conferences gobbling up more and more bowls, it might be a wave of the future.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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