CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Conference USA, reeling a bit from the loss of two schools in the latest round of realignment, reloaded with a vengeance.Reports that Middle Tennessee State and Florida Atlantic are joining the league came out Wednesday morning, and have long been confirmed by several sources.The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Tuesday night that Western Kentucky and New Mexico State are being added, but that has not been confirmed further.Middle Tennessee, 30 miles southeast of Nashville in Murfreesboro, will hold a press conference today to formally announce its move. Announcement days and times for the other schools' announcements have not been set, and their entrance dates have not been announced.
The additions come on the heels of the pending defections of East Carolina and Tulane to the Big East. Tulane's entire athletic program will migrate to the Big East in 2014; only ECU's football program is moving, and the Pirates must find a new home for their other sports.Both MTSU and FAU are coming from the Sun Belt Conference, which is already losing Florida International to C-USA. FAU had been left behind from its South Florida rival, and the teams just played what was thought to be the last "Shula Bowl" game.
At 372 road miles from Huntington, Middle Tennessee is another drivable opponent for Herd fans. Should Western Kentucky be admitted, that's even closer at 280 miles. Western Kentucky is about 65 miles north of Nashville.New Mexico State is not so close - it's 45 miles northwest of rival Texas-El Paso. But that's a bonus for the two schools, which play annually in football and twice in basketball.The Aggies are one of two football schools from the Western Athletic Conference looking for new homes, with Idaho being the other. The WAC, which also is losing Louisiana Tech to C-USA, will become defunct as a football conference at the end of this season.Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.