The end of the Bowl Championship Series comes with the end of the 2013-14 bowl schedule. That also signals one big food fight as conferences and bowls schmooze for the best positions.
C-USA has a good history of taking care of its members - remember, that's a big reason Marshall pursued the league a decade ago - but the sheer number of games almost guarantees a C-USA team with a 6-6 record or better plays on.
The big question is what the league will do for a flagship bowl, since you can kiss the Liberty Bowl goodbye. There is a reason that bowl opted for an unappetizing Iowa State-Tulsa rematch: Sucking up to the Big 12. It stands to reason officials there are angling for a Big 12/Big East/SEC arrangement.
So is every other bowl. Perhaps the New Orleans Bowl can advertise it will pit Big East No. 10 vs. SEC No. 12, only to wind up with Rice vs. Louisiana-Monroe anyway. Whatever works.
As the NFL playoffs begin, the rest of America won't miss this bunch.
I'm no expert, but when a second-string linebacker starts in order to "get people lined up" and your corners consistently allow 12-yard cushions, your team might allow 517 points in 12 games.
I'd say that after handing closer Joel Hanrahan to the Red Sox, the Pirates will lead baseball in ninth-inning collapses. Alas, that generally assumes a number of ninth-inning leads.
Three months to the start of Losing Season No. 21.
And I suspect it will be the last such gathering of Division II basketball here. Connect the dots: The newly formed Mountain East Conference will have more a more northerly geographic center and commissioner Reid Amos comes from a position as West Liberty's director of broadcasting.
After the NCAA approves the league's application, you can count on the league office remaining in Wheeling, and I'm betting the basketball tournament will grow roots downtown at Wesbanco Arena. Objectively speaking, it's not a bad fit.
(As a joking aside: The sports staffs at the two Charleston newspapers are overrun with Wheeling-area expatriates, so coverage should be no problem. Free lodging, you know.)
If folks here want the first MEC tournament at the Civic Center, they have some lobbyin' to do.
With that, I wish all a happy New Year. Or at least a happy first day of it.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.