February 13, 2004
in conferences will leave C-USA trailing
move to the Mountain West Conference should be beneficial
for football and womens basketball.
Conference USA the Horned Frogs belong to today is not
the same conference it will be leaving behind in 2005.
Departing with the Frogs, albeit to different digs, will
be every former conference basketball champion and all
but one former football champion since TCU arrived in
C-USA two-and-a-half years ago. Replacing the crème
of the C-USA crop are five schools from less-heralded
Other teams leaving C-USA are Louisville, Cincinnati,
DePaul, Marquette, South Florida, Army, Charlotte and
St. Louis. Meanwhile, Tulsa, Rice, Southern Methodist,
Central Florida and Marshall are the replacements.
Athletics director Eric Hyman said the competition level
the Mountain West Conference offers seems to be a more
stable situation for the Frogs.
Stability. Im looking for stability,
Hyman said at the press conference announcing the move.
And looking at the MWCs track record, stability
appears to be what the Frogs will be getting.
Not only did MWC football teams go 2-0 this season against
C-USA teams, they also had a 24-18 record against non-conference
opposition. According to college football expert Rich
Tellshows Web site, those figures were good enough
for a 55.6 average strength of schedule in the final Bowl
Championship Series rankings.
C-USA, on the other hand, went 24-25 against non-conference
foes, despite having a much easier 82.2 strength of schedule
Tellshows Web site shows the MWC was the seventh
best conference in college football last season with a
61.1 average team BCS ranking.
C-USA was 10th, posting a 71.3 average ranking. If TCU
had been in the MWC last season, C-USAs average
would have been even higher and the MWCs lower,
providing greater separation between the two conferences.
The Liberty Bowl this season proved the MWCs possible
dominance over the C-USA.
In the battle between the champions of the two conferences,
Utah beat Southern Miss17-0.
Head coach Gary Patterson said the MWC has quality programs
and plays good football, but it is hard to say how the
conferences will compare in 2005 due to leagues fluctuating
We havent played anybody yet, so I dont
know, he said.
Womens basketball should also benefit from the mountain
scenery, head coach Jeff Mittie said. He said the MWC
has been rated higher than C-USA four of the last five
seasons, and they typically send a fair number of teams
to the NCAA Tournament.
Last season, six MWC teams went to postseason tournaments,
including four to the NCAA Tournament.
It is a very strong conference, Mittie said.
I anticipate a shift in conference powers soon and
the Mountain West will be one of the top leagues in the
This is a down year for the MWC in womens basketball,
however. The conference is currently the 13th ranked conference
in the Ratings Percentage Index, while C-USA is seventh.
TCUs addition to the MWC, along with the loss of
three of C-USAs current best four teams, should
help offset that difference in the future.
In fact, when realignment occurs, C-USA will retain only
one of its NCAA Tournament qualifiers, Tulane, from the
past two seasons.
C-USA has made a name for itself in mens basketball
over the last few seasons, but that too is about to change.
All but one of the conferences NCAA Tournament qualifiers
the past two seasons are leaving for other conferences.
Despite having six teams in the top 50 of the RPI this
season, only two of those schools will remain members
of C-USA after realignment.
Louisville and Cincinnati, two of the high-ranked C-USA
teams leaving, are the conferences only mens
basketball teams ranked.
In contrast, the MWC has no teams in the Top 25.
But that does not worry head basketball coach Neil Dougherty.
Dougherty said while the current top teams in C-USA are
better than the top teams in the MWC, the MWC is more
competitive overall when comparing the quality of the
athletic departments and their respective budgets.
He said the MWC will be much stronger than the new C-USA.
Thats kind of a no-brainer, Dougherty
He said his teams eventual success will depend on
how quickly they can get a feel for their new conference
We get a little older and a little wiser every day.