College Sports in the Carolinas
Watch for Al Myatt's
profile of new ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in this summer's
from the East
Tuesday, August 3, 2004
By Al Myatt
Accord evolving on
Filed from the
MEMPHIS — One issue emerging from the last meeting of Conference USA CEOs in
June was whether the league would hold a football championship game in 2005.
Although detractors point out that it could possibly knock an unbeaten C-USA
team out of contention for a slot in the expanded bowl championship series,
commissioner Britton Banowsky said Monday evening in Memphis that he thinks
the league will move forward with a league championship matchup in football.
Banowsky said the league had already been split into East and West divisions
for football and a title game seemed to be the sentiment of the majority.
"Given the direction we're headed, a championship game seems to be a
natural," said Banowsky, who has been on the job for 18 months, moving the
league office from Chicago to the Dallas area during his tenure.
Given C-USA's imminent membership transition, Dallas makes a lot more sense
from a geographic standpoint than the Windy City. Chicago-based DePaul is
among the school's which will exit after the 2004-05 scholastic year.
C-USA will be in better position to develop its football identity after the
pending exodus, which will see the departure of hoops powers Charlotte,
Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette and Saint Louis. Texas Christian
and South Florida are also leaving along with football member Army.
"Conference USA has been a basketball conference," Banowsky said. "There's
always been a little tug of war between basketball and football. Now we are
more unified in our identity to move forward with all of our members playing
East Carolina will be in the East Division of the emerging alignment,
according to Banowsky, and it appears to be a challenging football grouping
with Central Florida under new coach George O'Leary, former MAC power
Marshall, strengthening Memphis, always tough Southern Miss and ECU nemesis
UAB joining the Pirates.
Houston, Rice, Southern Methodist, Texas-El Paso, Tulane and Tulsa will
comprise the West Division.
The last C-USA television contract included a provision for ESPN/ABC to
televise a football championship game.
Pirates coach John Thompson has voiced his support for a football
championship game as a recruiting enticement and a means of exposure for the
"We want to play for championships," Thompson said. "That's something our
players want to do."
One C-USA official said the potential site of a C-USA title game in football
has only been discussed in general terms, such as whether it should be held
at the home of a predetermined division champion or be played on a neutral
Holding the game at the home facility of a division winner would ensure
attendance from that team's fans. A neutral site might be more appealing for
travel-minded fans and would be fairer from a competition standpoint.
The league basketball tournament has not yet been moved out of a city that
is the home of a league member because of the built-in fan support that such
C-USA institution leaders, including ECU chancellor Dr. Steve Ballard,
convene again this month and are expected to further define the football
Briefs from the links
The Auto Zone Liberty Bowl hosted a superball golf tournament at Ridgewood
Country Club in Germantown on Monday with morning and afternoon sessions.
The event has been held in past years at Colonial Country Club in Memphis
and the TPC Southwind, which have hosted the Danny Thomas St. Jude Classic
on the PGA Tour. ... TPC Southwind is undergoing some renovations so the
event was moved about 25 miles to the southeast to the nice Ridgewood
layout. ... My team of Bill, Chuck, Jason and Todd was 11-under par, which
tied for first in the second flight, but we missed winning a DVD player in a
scorecard playoff. ... The team of Memphis coach Tommy West was third in the
third flight and the team of South Florida coach Jim Levitt was third in the
second flight. ... Levitt got some razzing at a banquet following the golf
tournament because he had gotten lost on the way to the course and wound up
in Arkansas. ... ECU coach John Thompson sat with C-USA director of football
officials Gerald Austin during dinner. Maybe JT is hoping he won't get any
first bounce touchdowns awarded to the opposition as during overtime of last
year's South Florida game. ... UAB sports information director Norm Reilly,
who formerly held that post at ECU, was not expected to attend today's C-USA
football media function at the Memphis Marriott because of the death of his
mother. Aaron Jordan, who formerly worked at ECU and now assists Reilly at
UAB, will represent the Blazers. ... Coach Thompson, linebacker Chris Moore
and running back Marvin Townes from ECU will be on hand today to offer their
thoughts to C-USA media. ... Southern Miss coach Jeff Bower did not
participate in the golf event or attend the dinner because of the death of
his father last week. ... At a post dinner auction to raise money for the
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, a portrait of Tiger Woods brought
$2,000. A round of golf for four with Shaun Micheel went for $3,500. ...
Bobby Ross was on hand. This will be his first year as coach at Army and the
last for the Cadets in C-USA.
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02/23/2007 12:46:12 AM