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C-USA looking to add schools

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The geographic footprint of Conference USA appears to be changing again.

According to CBS Sports College Football Insider Brett McMurphy, the league is prepared to add six schools for the 2013 season.

Extending invitations to the schools - Florida International, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Texas-San Antonio, Charlotte and Old Dominion - is necessary after the league lost one-third of its members to the Big East and the previously announced "football association" with the Mountain West hit numerous legal snags.  

Once the new schools officially join Conference USA - an announcement that could come as early as Friday, according to McMurphy - the league will have 14 schools, including Marshall.  

Houston, Southern Methodist, UCF and Memphis are headed to the Big East after the 2012-13 academic year.

In an effort to keep pace with conference realignment and the burgeoning BCS leagues, C-USA and Mountain West announced its football association in October.

There was a formal announcement and conference calls and Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick called it "an exciting development for Marshall athletics."

McMurphy's report said C-USA and the Mountain West "continue to work together on a plan to share scheduling, television and marketing resources."  

Conference USA is tapping into five different leagues for expansion.

FIU, a team the Herd defeated in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl in December, is leaving the Sun Belt to join C-USA. North Texas is also coming from that league.

The WAC is losing Louisiana Tech and UTSA, although the latter hasn't played in the league yet.

Texas-San Antonio began practice in August 2010 and played its first game last season as a Football Championship Subdivision independent.

In November UTSA accepted an invitation to join the WAC, but recent defections have left that league in a precarious position.

Old Dominion is also an FCS competitor and plays its basketball in the CAA.

Charlotte isn't scheduled to play its football program's inaugural game until 2013.

The 49ers play basketball in the Atlantic 10, where the program has played since it left Conference USA in 2005.

McMurphy's report stated the 14-team plan includes keeping the two-division football format in Conference USA, with East Carolina, FIU, Southern Mississippi, UAB, Charlotte and Old Dominion joining Marshall in the East.

The West will be comprised of current C-USA teams Rice, Tulane, Tulsa and UTEP, plus newcomers Louisiana Tech, North Texas and UTSA.

By maintaining a league membership of at least 12 teams, Conference USA can still hold a conference championship game in football.

The new geographical alignment should benefit Marshall, according to one athletic department source. An eight-game schedule, for example, could include six divisional games and two crossover games (as opposed to three East vs. West games in the 12-team setup).

Last season Marshall played two West Division teams on the road: Houston and Tulsa.

Contact Chuck McGill at chuck.mcgill@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.


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