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Originally published: 2011-08-28 20:45:32
Last modified: 2011-08-28 20:50:50

ECU would welcome ASU into CUSA

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

Appalachian State athletic director Charlie Cobb recently spoke about finding a rival should the Mountaineers move up to play FBS football. If it were up to Terry Holland, Appalachian State would be admitted as a member of Conference USA.
Holland, the athletic director at East Carolina, said he would be interested in seeing the Mountaineers join CUSA either as an expansion program or as a program that would replace any current member who moved out. Appalachian State took the first step towards leaving the Football Championship Subdivision when the university's Feasibility Committee recommended to Chancellor Kenneth Peacock to move to Football Bowl Subdivision status last week.
“ECU would be interested in seeing ASU as a member of CUSA in any expansion of CUSA and, therefore, as a replacement member if that ever became necessary,” Holland said in an exchange of emails with the Watauga Democrat.
Cobb and committee co-chairman G.A. Sywassink both stated about the need for the Mountaineers to find natural rivals should the program make the move to FBS during a conference call last week.
Holland said he was aware of Appalachian State's desire to change subdivisions, and felt the university's football program could thrive on the FBS level.
He used Virginia Tech as an example. The Hokies have a similar problem with a lack of television market exposure that Appalachian State has, but were able to grow as a program once it go into the Big East in 1991.
“ASU has a passionate fan base and has achieved unparalleled success in the FCS,” Holland said. “ASU would have a good chance to grow into the opportunity by any specific BCS conference. For example, Virginia Tech was 22-32 in five years under coach (Frank) Beamer but when given an opportunity to grow in the Big East in 1991, they took full advantage of that opportunity, even though they did not have a measurable local television market and few in the Big East press corps knew how to find Blacksburg, Virginia.”
Appalachian State made national news when it beat Michigan 34-32 in 2007. The Mountaineers hosted Wofford on ESPN2 on Halloween night in 2008 (a 70-24 ASU win), and won three Division I-AA/FCS national championships from 2005-07 on national television.
The Mountaineers made national news again Thursday when they announced they would return to the Big House to play the Wolverines in 2014.
Holland said CUSA is not looking at any programs at the present time, but acknowledged the league is keeping an eye on the possibilities of a changing landscape. He said if an FCS program would be considered as a possible replacement for a departing league program, it would have to be in the process of moving up to FBS status.
Several CUSA teams have been rumored to be looking to get into a power conference that holds an automatic bid into the BCS bowl games. Southern Methodist, a former member of the Southwestern Conference, was reported to be interested in joining the Big 12.
The Big 12 is down to 10 teams after Colorado left for the PAC 12 and Nebraska left for the Big 10. Leagues must have 12 teams to play a conference championship game, which brings in large revenue to individual conferences.
“CUSA is not “looking at” any institutions at this time but does keep up-to-date information on all FBS institutions in case CUSA decides to expand or needs to replace one of the current twelve members for some reason,” Holland said.
“I do not believe that data bank would include any current FCS institutions unless they are pretty far along in the process of moving up to FBS,” he said.