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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

October 26, 2011 at 10:55 AM

Super-size me: Is a mega-conference on the way?

And you thought 16-team conferences might be too much.

The latest on the spinning, evolving world of college conferences comes from the Boston Globe, which reports that the crumbling Big East is mulling an alliance with the Mountain West and Conference USA to become a 32-team King Kong Coalition (my description, not theirs). The primary objective, it appears, is to land the perpetual Holy Grail, which is an automatic bid to the BCS.

But that possibility may be as fragile as the structure of college sports these days. ESPN.com reported Wednesday that the Big East called off a meeting scheduled to discuss the mega-conference. It’s unknown whether that’s a temporary hitch or a complete shutdown of the proposal, but the Big East is thought to prefer to remain its own entity, albeit with added new members.

Earlier, the Mountain West and Conference USA announced they were hooking up in a 22-team contraption for football — also designed to make themselves more attractive for an automatic BCS bid.

The Big East, of course, has been staggered lately by Pitt and Syracuse’s bolt to the ACC, and now West Virginia appears ticketed for the Big 12. So there’s great concern in the Big East about the loss of its automatic BCS bid.

According to the Globe, the plan being pondered would be four eight-team divisions — the Big East, Central, Mountain and West.

In the West: Boise State, Hawaii, UNLV, Nevada, Fresno State, San Diego State, Utah State and San Jose State.

In the Mountain: Air Force, Colorado State, Wyoming, New Mexico, UTEP, SMU, Tulsa and Houston.

In the Central: Marshall, Memphis, Southern Mississippi, Tulane, Alabama-Birmingham, Rice, Temple and Louisiana Tech.

In the Big East (expanded to account for its recent defectors): Louisville, Connecticut, Rutgers, Cincinnati, South Florida, Central Florida, Navy and East Carolina.

Schools would presumably play a round-robin with their other seven division members, and then the four winners would meet to winnow it down to a champion — essentially providing for nine league games.

There’s also a 28-team plan, but we won’t drown you with the details.

The Globe writes that the Big East would like to stay on its own, but add new members in Boise State, Navy, Central Florida, SMU, Houston and Air Force, so as to retain its automatic BCS bid.

You wonder about the lust for a BCS bid. Surely that’s important in today’s college athletics. But, as most conferences split their BCS revenue, and assuming this one would do the same, is a 32-way split worth it? Or would the league devise a graduated payout system?

Dear Louisiana Tech athletic director: Please find enclosed your school’s share of Boise State’s BCS appearance — $128.47.

In the meantime, we look forward to that Boise State-UAB rivalry, a natural.

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