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Conference USA Should Go to Nine Conference Games

The PAC-12 adopted a nine game conference schedule, but the SEC voted against it. Playing nine conference games in a fourteen team league creates a chance to create more rivalries.

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky is confident all of the new teams will grow their fan bases and move quickly p the ladder in terms of success.  A way to help everyone grow would be to wean  everyone off the money games and go to a nine-game conference schedule.  There are 14 teams in Conference USA and they currently only play 8 of the other members of the league.

Playing nine games would help everyone play each other more and help grow rivalries, it would also help each team in scheduling.  Each team would play six games in their division, one permanent cross-divisional game, and two games against the other six teams.  That way you play everyone at least every three years.

In years that you have only four conference games, you would be allowed to schedule a home game against an FCS team.  Playing a game against an FCS team every other year will help the overall league strength of schedule.  In years where there are five conference home games, you wold be allowed to schedule a money game against a team from the P5 conferences.  Weaning each team off one to two money games a year will certainly help the league's winning percentage.  Louisiana Tech plays at both Auburn and Oklahoma this year, which is exponentially tougher than going to Kansas and NC State a year ago.

This setup will help foster home and home agreements.  If Louisiana Tech had five conference home games in 2015 and played their one P5 road game against Kansas State, they would still have room to fit their home game against ULL and their road game against Mississippi State, both games that are part of home and home agreements.  In 2016, instead of playing Mississippi State, Arkansas, and Texas A&M; Tech would play Mississippi State at home, a FCS team at home, and either Arkansas State or Texas A&M.

How would the permanent cross-divisional games look?  WKU-MTSU and USM-UAB would be obvious matches.  Rice-FAU would be the Battle of the Owls, Marshall-UNT would be green-on-green chaos, UTSA-FIU is a battle of major markets, UTEP-Charlotte could wield their pick axes against each other, and Louisiana Tech-Old Dominion, well, "Hey, we used to be really good at women's basketball."

Nine conference games would help keep some of their rivalries.  It would also strengthen the league from the inside out.  As teams continue to improve and win more games, they will sell more tickets and not have to rely on so many money games.  That could be a win-win for everyone.