CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Fans. What are you going to do with 'em, right?
They're never satisfied, unless a national title is delivered. They're always grumbling about something, and they're forever looking in hindsight.
Some WVU fans actually believe their program should have stayed in the Big East until a conference more geographically suited than the Big 12 made an offer. Inane though that thinking might be.
Marshall fans, meanwhile, have wondered aloud and in emails here whether their program should have stayed in the Mid-American Conference, where it had so much success.
That, on the surface, is not inane. Of late, the Big East cannibalized itself. Then Marshall's Conference USA was ravaged. Meanwhile, the MAC has been sturdy. It recently lost football-only member Temple to the Big East, but hasn't lost a full-time member since Marshall in 2004-05.
Travel for the Thundering Herd and its fans was easier in the MAC. And, hey, look at the final football Sagarin computer rankings. The Mid-American Conference was No. 10 among all leagues. Conference USA was No. 11.
On top of that, C-USA is losing Tulsa, its defending football champion, to the Big East, as well as Central Florida, which was ranked higher (45 to 47) than Tulsa in those Sagarin ratings.
How much weaker will Conference USA be after Houston, Memphis, UCF, Southern Methodist, East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa leave? On paper the answer: significantly.
At season's end, the average football ranking of the schools leaving: 88.4 out of 246 schools. The average of those joining C-USA: 104.5. And that doesn't even count UNC-Charlotte, which plays its first football season in 2013 and joins the league in 2015. That should weigh the average down like cement shoes.
In hoops, C-USA is No. 11, while the MAC is No. 16. Remember, though, Memphis is dribbling away.
There, however, is where the pro-MAC argument hits a brick wall.
While the new C-USA will be substantially weaker, it still is a better fit for Marshall. In fact, more so than it has been.
Financially, it's not even a contest. MAC teams pull in roughly $100,000 per year from the league's ESPN deal. C-USA has ongoing 5-year $35-million deals with both CBS College Sports and Fox, which, bundled, pays each league school $1.17 million.
"Our last year in the MAC," said MU athletic director Mike Hamrick, "we were given $32,000 from television. This year, in Conference USA, we made $1.1 million. And we don't have to play [football] on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Sometimes we do play on Thursdays."