Conference USA Officially Adds Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic for 2014

Stephen Dunn

Conference USA confirmed Thursday what was rumored to be its reaction to Tulane's departure. The conference added Middle Tennessee State and Florida Atlantic, both from the Sun Belt, starting no later than 2014. Basketball takes another blow in the name of football.

The move we knew was rumored to be coming is done.

No, the Big East is not breaking up, although that can't be far down the line here.

Conference USA has added Middle Tennessee State and Florida Atlantic, beginning no later than the 2014 season.

The move comes in response to the Big East's land grab of Tulane for all sports and East Carolina for football. The Pirates will remain in Conference USA for basketball and other sports.

As far as basketball goes, the move doesn't help to strengthen the league much. While Middle Tennessee State is expected to once again head the Sun Belt conference this season, the Blue Raiders have only averaged No. 147 in the Ken Pomeroy rankings over the last five seasons.

That is below the overall league average for Conference USA. But this season, at No. 57 through the early going, they would be second only to Memphis.

Florida Atlantic is a much different story, and that move screams FOOTBALL. We are talking 30,000-seat stadiums, and an increased presence in the Florida recruiting market. Yeah, FOOTBALL.

For basketball, the Owls are averaging 217.4 in the Pomeroy rankings over the last five seasons. Despite the addition of Mike Jarvis as the head coach, Florida Atlantic has had just one winning record in that time. The Owls are currently No. 249 in the Pomeroy rankings.

The good news in all that? They are better than fellow newcomer Florida International.

The conference will take a dip in the average with this addition, but not too much more than they will when the top basketball schools all depart after this season.

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