Two Football Bowl Subdivision conferences announced Friday that they would combine their football programs to form one 22-team league. The members of the two leagues, Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference, have often been on the outside looking in when it comes to the high-profile Bowl Championship Series that crowns the national champion in big-time football. And the recent rounds of cannibalism involving other big-time-football playing leagues has left Conference USA and Mountain West vulnerable to raiding by some of the conferences whose own members have been wooed away by other leagues. "Rather than await changes in membership due to realignment, it became clear the best way to serve our institutions was to pursue an original concept," Craig Thompson, commissioner of the Mountain West, said in a news release. "The Mountain West and C-USA share a number of similarities, and the creative merger of our football assets firmly positions our respective members for the future."