JOHN L. PITTS: Conference confusion may reign

By John L. Pitts/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – There’s an old saying that you can’t tell the players without a scorecard.
After the latest shuffling, fans may be stumped by new conference lineups.
My alma mater, Middle Tennessee, is a pretty good example. When I was there in the 1970s, the school competed in the Ohio Valley Conference. In 2000, the school joined the Sun Belt. On Monday, the Blue Raiders moved to Conference USA.
C-USA, which includes Southern Miss, has undergone an extreme makeover after the departure of Memphis and three other schools.
So C-USA raided other leagues for eight schools, including Middle Tennessee, Louisiana Tech and North Texas. That, in turn, leaves the Sun Belt with 10 members – eight in football – until it gains two new members in 2014.
At least the Sun Belt survived to play football. The Western Athletic Conference is out of the football business after Utah State and San Jose State left to join the Mountain West.
The no-football WAC regrouped by inviting six new members – including one, Grand Canyon University, I’m pretty sure I’d never heard of before.
The Atlantic Coast Conference added Pittsburgh and Syracuse this week along with Notre Dame in all sports but football.
Notre Dame retains its standing as a football independent so it doesn’t have to share all that TV money it gets from NBC.
Big generic?
Which brings us to the Big East. That name was taken by its seven Catholic members, who joined with Butler, Creighton and Xavier to create a new Big East with no football.
The 10 football schools that were in the Big East spun off into the American Athletic Conference. Was the name Big Generic Conference taken?
Finding itself in a league with Memphis again, Louisville entered Federal Witness Relocation. No, that’s not true, Louisville will stay for one year and then join the ACC – as Maryland joins the Big Ten along with one-year AAC member Rutgers.
In 2015, the Big Ten will have 14 members while the Big 12 – which lost Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC last year – only has 10 members.
Somehow, it all adds up.
John L. Pitts (john.pitts@journalinc.com) is sports editor of the Daily Journal.