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September 24, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



The Morning Dish – Wednesday, September 24th

Vaccaro to Reebok?: ESPN’s Darren Rovell is reporting that legendary shoe pitchman Sonny Vaccaro, who left Adidas earlier this summer, is close to signing with Reebok, hoping to revive the now-3rd place shoe on the market. Vaccaro, who created the concept of the high school summer camp, was originally a Nike man, signing Michael Jordan and revolutionizing shoe merchandising. In 1992, he left the Beaverton camp to work for Adidas, then the No. 3 shoe brand that had fallen on hard times. Seems to be a similar story with Reebok now.

Verdejo Prepping: Former Temple recruit Jesus Verdejo has enrolled at the Winchendon School (Winchendon, Massachusetts) for the semester. Verdejo, a starter on Puerto Rico’s 19-and-under Junior National Team, was denied admission to Temple, and enrolled at “The Winch” rather than sit out as an academic casualty at Temple. Temple and Memphis will try to recruit Verdejo the second time around.

Cowboy Charged: Former Wyoming star Queint Higgins, currently head coach at Laramie County (Wyoming) Community College, has pleaded not guilty to domestic violence charges against his wife. Higgins allegedly punched his wife Jenny in the midsection on August 31st, and turned himself in last Monday. LCCC officials have indicated that they will make a decision on Higgins’ status once his legal issues have been involved. Higgins was a standout at Wyoming, playing at Laramie from 1989-90 to 1993-94.

Conference Shuffle: The Boston Globe is reporting that the Big East will invite four Conference USA schools – Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, and Marquette – to join their conference next month. The plan wold add two football schools (Louisville and Cincinnati) to replace the departed Miami and Virginia Tech, plus two basketball schools in DePaul and Marquette, leading to a 16-team conference, with and eight-school football conference. New program UConn would replace Temple, who is departing as a football only conference. The report also said that the Big East would basically need to firehose cash at Boston College to keep them from jumping to the ACC. Meanwhile, The The Dallas Morning News is reporting that SMU is in talks to switch over to Conference USA, and that C-USA would be interested in persuading Rice and Tulsa to come with them. This flies in the face of the news from Monday ago that the WAC was eyeing C-USA schools Tulane, Houston, and TCU. Meanwhile, the A-10 has announced that they will be going after Saint Louis and Charlotte, as soon as the Big East plan is formally announced, expected in November.

What to do with all of this conference mess? Here’s the solution, brought to you by Hoopville. Disband Conference USA. Now we’re sure C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky would not be a real fan of this plan, but it makes sense. The Big East forms their super-conference by grabbing Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, and Marquette. The WAC creates a Central time zone division with the addition of TCU, Tulane, and Houston. The A-10 spreads its geographical wings and gets Charlotte and Saint Louis. And this is Army’s last season as a football-only member.

Who does that leave? Memphis, Southern Miss, UAB, USF and East Carolina. Memphis and Southern Miss can join the SEC, creating another 16-team superconference. UAB can join the Sun Belt, which is already adding Utah State, Troy State, and Idaho for 2005. And USF and East Carolina (both football schools) can join the ACC to create a 13-team conference, enabling the ACC to have a football championship game. The ACC can round itself out by grabbing big-fish-in-little-pond Central Florida or Georgia State from the Atlantic Sun to make it an even number. Meanwhile, the Big East will grab a rogue A-10 school to fill out its roster, after Notre Dame makes the Big Ten an even 12 members.

Conference USA, formed in 1995, served a valuable purpose in transitioning small-time athletics into the major conference alignments seen in this new millennium, but it may have outlived its usefulness. Created during a time of record-new D-I schools and huge transitions, C-USA was an amalgam of the old Metro Conference, the remainder of the Southwest Conference, Sun Belt, and Independents. Then schools can again form under the aegis of “Conference USA” in the year 2015, when mismanagement of superconferences drives schools into smaller, more “user-friendly” conferences.

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