Mountain West, C-USA plan to join

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Mountain West Conference and Conference USA say they are combining their football programs to form a 22-team league.

The new conference will spread across five time zones from North Carolina to Hawaii.

Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson says the leagues made the move to join instead of waiting for teams to be poached or otherwise affected by conference realignment.

The conferences did not say when the merger would take place, nor what the new association would be called.

BIG EAST: An official in the Big East tells The Associated Press that the conference plans to double its exit fee to $10 million dollars, then invite Boise State, Navy and Air Force as football-only members, and Central Florida as a member in all sports.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Big East had not authorized anyone to speak publicly about its plans, said Commissioner John Marinatto was in Cincinnati meeting with representatives from UCF.

The official said those invites could be out as early as next week.

The Big East said earlier this week it wanted to expand to 12 football schools.

FLORIDA: Freshman Jacoby Brissett will be the starting quarterback for today’s game at No. 24 Auburn.

Coach Will Muschamp made the announcement Friday. Brissett will make his second consecutive start in place of John Brantley, who is sidelined with a badly sprained right ankle.

Brissett mostly struggled against top-ranked Louisiana State last week but showed signs of progress. He completed 8 of 14 passes for 94 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions, while working in a conservative game plan.

Fellow freshman Jeff Driskel split repetitions with Brissett in practice this week.

OREGON: Coach Chip Kelly likes to say that in running backs LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner, the Ducks have option No. 1 and No. 1A because Barner is so close to James’ skill level that he can hardly be considered backup material.

That means Oregon doesn’t expect to lose a step in James’ likely absence when the ninth-ranked Ducks host No. 18 Arizona State on tonight.

James dislocated his right elbow in Oregon’s 43-15 victory over California on Oct. 6.


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