After yet another day of realignment roulette, the Conference USA that Old Dominion signed up with looks even less like the one the Monarchs will get when they begin playing in football's highest division in 2014.
Moving quickly to replace East Carolina and Tulane, which were poached by the Big East on Tuesday, C-USA reached down the conference food chain and grabbed Middle Tennessee State and Florida Atlantic from the Sun Belt.
Formal announcements from the schools and the conference are expected today.
Sources who asked not to be identified informed The Virginian-Pilot of the addition of Middle Tennessee State on Wednesday morning. Florida Atlantic's move was reported by numerous outlets in the afternoon.
"If those hold true, I think they are going to be great additions," ODU athletic director Wood Selig said. "I think they both represent outstanding choices that remain consistent with the philosophy of adding large metro universities in dynamic markets. Both have enjoyed success competitively in a variety of sports.
"You don't want to expand just to expand. You want to expand for a purpose."
With the additions, C-USA would stay at 14 members. It essentially trades the New Orleans and Greenville, N.C., television markets for greater Miami and greater Nashville.
From a football perspective, C-USA adds a program - Middle Tennessee - that is playing for the Sun Belt title Saturday, and in Florida Atlantic, it gets a 12-year-old program that became the youngest start-up to earn a bowl bid.
The conference is losing its attendance leader and ODU its closet geographic rival in East Carolina, which is 8-4 and draws 47,013 fans per game. The Pirates will make their fifth bowl appearance in seven seasons.
Tulane has had 10 consecutive losing seasons and has not played in a bowl since 2002.
Middle Tennessee, located in Murfreesboro, was the last team out when ODU agreed to join C-USA in May, completing an addition of six schools. The Blue Raiders have been in the Sun Belt since 2001 and have won the conference's all-sports trophy eight times. They average 17,739 fans in a 30,000-seat, on-campus stadium.
Florida Atlantic, in Boca Raton, began playing football in 2001 and moved to the Football Championship Subdivision in 2005. It began playing in a new 30,000-seat stadium this season, where attendance averages 13,943. Since winning bowls in 2007 and 2008, the Owls are 13-34, including 3-8 this season.
ODU will join C-USA for most sports in 2013 and in football the following year. While acknowledging that losing ECU is a blow, Selig said the school would make the move again.
Speaking generally on the frenetic pace of realignment, Selig said the movement should come as no surprise.
"I think everybody has kind of a file folder of, 'OK, if we lose X, we add Y; if we lose Z, we add A,' " Selig said. "People have had enough warning in this day and age that things can shift quickly, and most have prepared themselves."
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