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Conference realignments bad for Herd

The Parthenon

Published: Sunday, September 25, 2011

Updated: Sunday, September 25, 2011 22:09

Remember a time, not-so-long ago, when the farthest conference opponent from Marshall hailed in Buffalo, N.Y.?

It was a time when conference games were played in southern Ohio, Michigan and Illinois. It was a time when Marshall dominated the football landscape.

Yes, the glory days of the Mid-American Conference are gone. And now Herd fans get to plan trips to Tulsa, Oka., Birmingham, Ala. and, of course, the oh-so-close El Paso, Texas.

When the Thundering Herd football program left the MAC to pursue Conference USA in 2005, one of the best traveling fan bases in the country had to dig a little deeper in their wallets to make the journey to away games.

And, by the way, let us not forget the highest finish the Herd has in CUSA is a tie for sixth. It seems the move didn't work out quite like the athletic department planned.

Well guess what, Herd fans. It may get worse.

With the conference merry-go-round that has taken place in the past six months, schools are scrambling to join the 16 team power conferences that seem destined to change the face of college football as we know it today.

The CUSA schools are no different. ESPN reported Tuesday that CUSA commissioner Britton Banowsky and Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson have discussed a possible merger between the two.

Umm, WHAT?

That would send the Thundering Herd to Colorado, Nevada, Idaho and California, among others, to play conference games.

Good luck planning a one-day trip to San Diego St.

Should this merger become reality for the two conferences, it would make sense for a lot of schools. The Texas and Oklahoma schools of CUSA could logically join the Mountain West and be closer to home.

But it may be time for the Herd to address some other possibilities.

I have one: How about the MAC?

The Mid-American Conference currently has 13 football teams. Fourteen sounds like a good even number to me.

Wouldn't it be great to renew some of those old rivalries? And with Ohio University currently on the schedule and Miami (Ohio) returning to it in 2013, Marshall is seemingly trying to do that already. Perhaps the time to make it official is coming.

Should the conference landscapes begin to dissolve, and CUSA begin to explore other options, the Herd must think to do the same. So with the history of MAC success (that would be six conferences championship trophies to their name), the time might be coming to shorten those away trips for fans again.

Jake Snyder can be contacted at

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