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Louisville’s pre-ACC Options: Bring Back the Metro Conference

With all the focus on whether Notre Dame will follow the Catholic 7 into the new Big East for a year or be allowed to enter the ACC a year early, this observer turns his attention to what the University of Louisville will do (or be allowed to do) in light of the latest conference realignment development.

The worst-case scenario befell the Louisville, Cincinnati and Connecticut athletic programs. While each school was vying for the ACC’s glance in 2012, no one expected the possibility that there would be no home to return to if not selected.

While Louisville must come up with and be satisfied with a short-term solution, the Bearcats and Huskies are in a much worse position with no real future on any horizon.

Originally scheduled to officially enter the prestigious ACC in 2014, Louisville and its fans are quite content with that still being the case. However, the news that the Catholic 7 will compete in fall 2013 and take the Big East name with them arouses some understandable doubts about where the Cardinals will land in the interim.

This Confidential correspondent has pondered the many options available to all parties involved and believes one solution is tenable. A void will exist when/after the Catholic 7 take the Big East name and this means that the current member schools will need to either attach to another conference or come up with one of their own.

In my humble opinion, I believe the remaining schools should resurrect an idea whose time has come once again. Even though Louisville and Rutgers will be leaving for the ACC and Big Ten in 2014, I feel a viable option could be for them to help formulate a new version of the Metro Conference (Metro Collegiate Athletic Conference) for all sports.

At various points in time over the twenty year history of the Metro Conference from 1975 to 1995, Louisville, Cincinnati, Memphis, South Florida and Tulane were member schools. The league revolved around schools in metropolitan areas and eventually merged with the Great Midwest Conference to form Conference USA.

Although it disbanded, the conference had become a household name and boasted some other well-known member schools over the years, including Georgia Tech, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Saint Louis and South Carolina.

Let’s be clear: no one wants to go backwards in terms of tradition and program evolution. However, unless other conferences are open to cherry picking the residual Big East schools, there are really very few options and I suspect no one wants to go back to C-USA.

If the remaining schools were to band together and form a new conference, I believe one option on the table should be to revive the Metro league. It has name recognition, although a bit dated, and it fits the geographic locations of its would-be member schools and gives the beleaguered schools a new start with which to enter the future.

Assuming the schools agree to submit all of their athletic programs, Cincinnati, Central Florida, East Carolina, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Rutgers, South Florida, Southern Methodist and Temple would make a 10-team conference for the 2013-14 season. In addition to compiling some household names, each member school would boast large metropolitan populations that could entice large media rights deals and revenues for the universities.

When Louisville and Rutgers leave, the new conference can then seek out new programs. The actions of Mike Aresco and the Big East brass in the past year have shown there is not a shortage of programs looking to realign themselves in this era of athletic musical chairs.

One thing is for sure: the time has come for some proactive decision-making by these schools. Although the Big East did its best to recruit new schools to join, the situation is what it is and the wrench the Catholic 7 have thrown into the conference’s future plans lends itself to some creative thinking.

If there are no other viable options, this option would enjoin dejected, outlying athletic programs into one conference with a goal of moving forward and finding common ground. Louisville and Rutgers can use their resources to help these programs before they leave for their new conferences. Although it will still appear like they are running out on them, they will nonetheless garner the attention and respect as two big-time programs that provided leadership to help everyone affected.

Feel free to comment and let me know what you think. At this point, only discussion and bold ideas can solve this problem. What are your ideas for the remaining schools?

**Mr. Cardinal is a new correspondent around the Atlantic Coast Confidential office. He graduated from the University of Louisville and is currently the Senior Editor of Empress World Publishing in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

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11 thoughts on “Louisville’s pre-ACC Options: Bring Back the Metro Conference

  1. I like it. From a basketball perspective there is still some nice pedigree there. U of L for 1 year, plus U Conn, U C, Temple, Memphis, and Houston – that’s a nice core for that sport. Football has UCF, USF, ECU, Houston and SMU (not to mention U Conn and U C, which have performed well under the Big East banner) – again, a nice core. Not sure what these schools can become, but no doubt there is potential and tradition to build upon.

  2. I like your name man haha….But seriously, I think it would be awesome if we could somehow work in Louisville for Olympic sports and basketball THIS year. Sure, the logistics would be pretty tough, but the sooner everyone moves on and this stuff settles down the better

  3. Like the idea but I think a merger with CUSA is not really a bad option for the Big Survivors. Probably a bit prejudiced since I follow Charlotte as well as the Pack and the Niners are supposed to join CUSA next year for basketball and 2016 for football and it would be nice to see them in the New Metro.

    • BruceMcF on said:

      Why should the “Big American” merge with Conference USA, when it can raid Conference USA and cherry pick the best schools for its needs?

      • Undoubtedly that is what will happen. Just my personal preference, looking from a CUSA point of view rather than from the America 12 POV.

  4. BruceMcF on said:

    The flaw in this piece is simple: “A void will exist when/after the C7 take the Big East name”.

    No it won’t. What will exist will be a conference that is no longer named “Big East”. But a conference is an organization, not a name. Louisville remains in the same conference is was in before the C7 announced over a month ago that they wanted to leave. They’ll be in the same conference next week, when the C7 have finalized their departure. The conference will exist every bit as much whether they immediately adopt a new name, or whether they take a little while to decide.

    This image of being in limbo suggests an overactive imagination looking too much at the cover of the book while neglecting the contents.

    As far as what name, etc. ~ that should not be up to Louisville or Rutgers. That should be up to UC, UConn, USF, UCF, Temple, Memphis, Houston SMU, Tulane and ECU. Even Navy. While its only UC, UConn, USF and Temple voting on most of these things at the moment, it will be in consultation with those schools, most of whom will be voting members come 1 July 2013, some of whom will become voting members come 1 July 2014, the same day Louisville skedaddles.

    If they want Metro, then Louisville plays in the same conference, except called the Metro. If they want Big American, then Louisville plays in the same conference, except called the Big American. But its pretty much the same conference, one way or the other.

  5. Mr. Cardinal on said:

    Thanks for reading and much thanks for your input. Mr. Tar Heel – you were a good influence! I am dedicated to promoting a place where intelligent conversation can impact any reader. After all, if we cannot converse in a meaningful manner, what’s the point?

    HokieMark: I wholeheartedly agree – good core, potential and some good tradition.

    Mike: I remember when UofL played UNC-Charlotte, I always hated playing you. You were like a Marquette or Cincinnati – you all could beat us in any given game and we had to be playing on all cylinders.

    Bruce: I would posit that an organization without a name or bylaws is not much of a conference. I see a limbo existing when the would-be future members are no longer facing what they initially agreed to. Until the collective group can hammer out some common principles upon which to move forward, the current situation is not exactly the poster child of a stable entity and I feel there is a real void

    As far as names go: (Metro = Big American) > C-USA

    • BruceMcF on said:

      If they had no bylaws and no existing membership, that would not be a conference. Indeed, if they had no bylaws and no membership, they would have been unable to sign the television deal they just agreed to.

      But they have bylaws, they have membership ~ six members at present, UC, UConn, USF, Temple, Rutgers, and Louisville ~ they have commitments to receive new full and associate members over the next two years ~ Memphis, UCF, Houston, SMU, Tulane, ECU, Navy ~ and while only three or four having voting rights on a range of structural issues, BECAUSE they do have bylaws and those bylaws specify which issues Louisville and Rutgers lost voting rights on when they put in their notice and that Temple only gets a vote on entry/exit fees / NCAA units since it became a full member.

      Its really simple for Louisville, though … next year, Louisville fights with UC, USF, UCF, Houston and maybe UConn on who gets the last Bowl Coalition AQ from what was once called the Big East, then plays a round robin in basketball in what is likely to be a 1-3 bid conference in between the 5+ bid conference getting pulled apart at the end of this year and the 5+ bid conference its going to play in from 2014/2015 on.

      There might be a mess in non-revenue sports, but given Louisville’s breadth of non-revenue sports participation, its more likely to be a mess that kicks in when Louisville leaves than a mess that Louisville will have to experience. I’ve done the spreadsheet for that on the New Big East, so I’ll be doing the spreadsheet for that for the “Big American” tomorrow”.

      My personal favorite for name was Collection of Unfamiliar Schools with Ambitions”, but then somebody told me that CUSA was taken, hence “Big American”.

      • Mr. Cardinal on said:

        Very well stated, Bruce. I must admit I was looking at the membership situation in a more narrow, rhetorical viewpoint and you rightfully brought that to my attention. Thank you for that. And the more I read and say ‘Big American’, the more attractive it sounds.

  6. LenVILLE on said:

    As a Cardinal fan, I am excited about joining the ACC. As a long time Cards fan it would be fitting to be apart of a revived Metro but I would rather join the ACC asap. Mr. Cardinal I must correct a small detail in your article, in the 13-14 season it would be an 11team conference as I believe you left out UConn. Anyways, it’s amazing to be apart of the ACC.

    • BruceMcF on said:

      In 2013, its Louisville, Rutgers, UConn, UC, Temple, USF, UCF, Memphis, SMU, Houston. That’s 10. It will be one last “Conference of Princes” round robin in Football, with Louisville, UC, USF, Houston and maybe UCF and/or UConn having hopes.

      Tulane (all-sports) and ECU (FB, but widely expected to be promoted to all-sports) replace Louisville and Rutgers in 2014, and either in 2014 or 2105 there’s expected to be a new addition (eg, Tulsa/UMass{*}) to make 12 in football when Navy is scheduled to join FB only in 2015.

      {* Big TBA is still rumored to be courting BYU, but no clear reason why BYU would say yes.}

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