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C-USA raids WAC, MAC to fill holes

The dominoes are tumbling again.

The Big East added five Conference USA schools Tuesday, and a few hours later C-USA announced it was heisting three schools from the WAC (Rice, SMU and Tulsa) and two from the MAC (Central Florida and Marshall).

"By the time this is all over it will affect at least six conferences," C-USA assistant commissioner Russ Anderson said.

The Big East is filling the gaps left by the pending departures of Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech. However, it did not add a much-discussed football-only school, and commissioner Mike Tranghese said that option is on the back burner.

As such, UCF, which Tranghese said was one of "three or four" contenders to be the Big East's football-only school and a new league rival of nearby South Florida, instead opted to replace USF in C-USA.

C-USA now has 12 football schools (14 total), the minimum required to hold a lucrative conference championship game.

"Obviously, our preference would have been no change," C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said. "However, when the ACC initiated its expansion, it became clear that it was going to be a huge challenge for the Big East and affect us.

"What made this change more easily managed was the open and honest communication that we continue to share with Mike Tranghese and the other commissioners. We hope this concludes the restructuring, but realize that there may be more."

The WAC and Sun Belt are on deck, and there is speculation TCU, arguably C-USA's top football program, will jump to the Mountain West. C-USA's remaining nonfootball members, Charlotte and Saint Louis, could leave.

The major shockwaves might be over, but for the lesser Division I-A conferences, the fallout continues.

"I think overall it hasn't been healthy for all of us," Tranghese said. "And there's still a lot more changes that will take place."

THE NEW C-USA

Central Florida

Charlotte

East Carolina

Houston

Marshall

Memphis

Rice

Saint Louis

SMU

Southern Miss

TCU

Tulane

Tulsa

UAB

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