In The Midst Of Expansion: Where Does Conference USA Lie in the Mix?

Patrick FerliseCorrespondent IJune 10, 2010

LAWRENCE, KS - SEPTEMBER 26:  Freddie Parham #6 of the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles is upended by defenders during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks on September 26, 2009 at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Discussion is looming about the probable expansions of the Pac-10, Big XII, and Big Ten in what has become college football's largest conference expansion in the sport's history. As these conferences fight to sell the most appealing invites to the teams who want a new home to call their own, where does Conference USA lie in the midst of the chaos?

Conference USA has not been referred to as a conference that is looking to expand its boundaries for the time being. But as the Pac-10, Big XII, Big Ten, and possibly the SEC feel the need to stretch their reign of power, Conference USA, WAC, and the Mountain West Conference have not received any reported invitations to the bargaining table for merging with any of the larger conferences.

In particular, Conference USA is the second smallest conference in the nation with a competitive caliber that does not match any of its sister conferences.

Could Conference USA redeem itself competitively by merging with another conference? Or could the WAC, Mountain West, and Conference USA combine to make a larger and more identifiable conference? 

These are questions that have not been discussed in the open and could be a way to convert what are considered to be "lower-caliber conferences" into a larger and more competitive group of teams.

The more ideal situation for Conference USA would be that it is given an invitation by one of the larger conferences like the Big XII, which would generate a larger revenue stream for universities and more television broadcasts. Conference USA may not receive offers from the SEC (although Kansas might be picked up) or the Pac-10, but there could still be a chance that the Big XII or WAC could salvage some teams in the mix.