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Mountain West and Conference USA merge

The non-BCS conferences are not waiting around to be gobbled up by the bigger leagues.

The Mountain West and Conference USA announced during a conference call on Friday a merging of the two leagues to form a 22-team football conference. The hope is that the move will give the conferences a better chance at obtaining an automatic BCS Bowl berth for its conference champion.

It’s only a football move, as the leagues agreed to keep the other sports separate.

The merging of the leagues is more than just an effort to make money. Maintaining stability is important so if a team does decide to bolt, the conference will still have enough member institutions to have a conference championship game.

"The role of a conference is to provide its members with the best possible environment in which to conduct their intercollegiate athletics programs," said Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson. "Rather than await changes in membership due to realignment, it became clear the best way to serve our institutions was to pursue an original concept. The Mountain West and C-USA share a number of similarities, and the creative merger of our football assets firmly positions our respective members for the future."

It’s not a coincidence that the move was announced Friday. ESPN reported Friday that the Big East sent invitations to Central Florida, Houston and SMU for all sports, and Air Force and Boise State just for football. The Big East also reached out to Navy, according to ESPN, but the Midshipmen have yet to make a decision.

If the Big East gets those teams, the league will have 11 football schools. Navy would make 12 if it accepts. A twelfth team would allow the Big East to have a conference championship game. 

The Mountain West-Conference USA league will still have 17 teams if it lost those five, although it will be without its marquee team, Boise State.

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