"I think this is a huge opportunity for Old Dominion to be eligible in 2014," ODU athletic director Wood Selig said, as he departed the league meetings in Miami. "It basically cuts in half our transition period into the conference and assures that in 2014 every game matters and gives us a chance to compete for the championship."
C-USA athletic directors voted unanimously to permit ODU to compete for the title in 2014, Selig said. The Monarchs, with help from league schools, already were slated to play a full, eight-game conference schedule as they moved from Football Championship Subdivision status to the Football Bowl Subdivision.
"There really was very little discussion about it," Selig said of ODU's inclusion. "I think they figured that since we were already playing a full schedule, it just made sense to go ahead and allow us to be eligible."
"We are excited that Old Dominion football will play a Conference USA schedule beginning in 2014," C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said. "If they are successful against challenging opponents, they should certainly have the opportunity to compete at the highest level of the conference."
The Monarchs' present sophomore class, which includes Payton Award-winning quarterback Taylor Heinicke, will have the opportunity to compete for a conference title as seniors.
"They just received a late Christmas present," Wilder said. "When we made the move to Conference USA, everyone was under the impression that 2012 would be their last chance for them to compete for a title and now they get to do it as seniors. It's a huge incentive for them and for us."
ODU's recruiting benefits, as well. Wilder said that some opposing schools have been telling recruits, particularly junior college prospects, that they would have nothing to play for, for two years if they went to ODU.
"Now, we can tell junior college recruits that they can compete for a title as seniors and high school recruits they can compete for a title their second year," Wilder said.
Though ODU can compete for the C-USA title in 2014, bowl eligibility is a bit trickier. The
Selig said that ODU would be bowl eligible in 2014 only if not enough teams qualify to fill all bowl slots, and then ODU would have to petition the NCAA.
"A lot of things would have to happen," Selig said. "I'm not optimistic, but it is possible."
Conference USA's primary bowl tie-in is with the
"Football isn't like basketball," Selig said. "It's not like the
Revenue and revenue sharing also were discussed at the meetings. Selig said that under the present format, C-USA receives approximately $3 million per year from football. When the new playoff structure is implemented in 2014-15, he said that C-USA stands to receive approximately $13 million from football.
"The upside is that our revenue front is very positive," Selig said, "even better than we thought when we made the move."
Sixty percent of the money from football is divided evenly among the member schools. The other 40 percent is distributed based on results — bowl participation and other performance-based criteria.
While ODU football will be in transition for the upcoming 2013 season, most of the school's other sports will compete in Conference USA in 2013-14. C-USA is scheduled to have 16 members next year, with the inclusion of Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee State, and before the announced departures of