Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The landscape of the Football Bowl
Subdivision is going to have a new look as a handful of universities have
already, or plan to switch conference affiliations. Football programs that have
been synonymous with their current leagues are preparing to transition into a
new era. The names of the conferences such as Big East and Mountain West have
become irrelevant as geographical location no longer seems to be a concern for
the heads of athletic departments or the directors of the collegiate level
The following is a breakdown of how each of the FBS conferences have been
altered by the recent wave of movement.
Atlantic Coast Conference: The ACC is going to be deeper when it adds
Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the fold. Both programs agreed to leave the Big East
last September, which brings the number of ACC members to 16. Although neither
program has been a powerhouse on the gridiron in recent years, the benefits of
playing in a stronger conference will make both locations more attractive to
top recruits. While both of the new additions came as a surprise, Pitt's entry
into the ACC was particularly interesting after the school filed a lawsuit
against its new league in 2005 for conspiring to weaken the Big East. The most
likely entry date for both the Panthers and Orange is July 1, 2014 as they must
endure a 27-month notice period required by their Big East's by-laws.
Big East Conference: Syracuse and Pittsburgh were not the only ones to depart.
West Virginia is also leaving and in an immediate fashion. The Big East added
Temple, a former member, for football-only beginning this season. The league
will have an altogether new look in 2013 when it welcomes Houston, SMU, UCF and
Memphis, who will all be imported from Conference USA. San Diego State and
Boise State are also slated to stretch the conference's boundaries beginning in
2013. Boise State, which will be joining as a football-only school, has been
one of the top mid-major programs in the country with only three total losses
in the past four seasons. Navy will also be Big East bound, but not until 2015.
Big Ten Conference: The Big Ten has no additions or departures scheduled.
Big 12 Conference: The conference will have a new look in 2012, as both Texas
A&M and Missouri are both no longer member schools. However, Big 12 officials
managed to add another school from the Lone Star State in TCU, and a strong
West Virginia squad to avoid lowering the level of competition.
Conference USA: This mid-major league was raided by a desperate Big East, and
it reacted to the losses of Houston, Memphis, UCF and SMU by adding FIU,
Louisiana Tech, North Texas and Texas-San Antonio (2013). Old Dominion and
Charlotte will also be joining C-USA in 2013 for all sports except football,
but will become full members in 2015. The rumors of a merger with the Mountain
West seem improbable at this point.
Mid-American Conference: The MAC will be replacing the Temple Owls with former
FCS program Massachusetts. The Minutemen will play their home games in Gillette
Stadium (home of the NFL's New England Patriots) during their inaugural season
as an FBS member.
Mountain West Conference: The MWC will increase in size in 2012 as it adds
Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii (football only) to combat the loss of TCU. The
league will take another hit when Boise State and San Diego State depart in
2013, but the 10-team structure will remain as San Jose State and Utah State
join the fold.
Pacific 12 Conference: There are no scheduled changes to the football aspect
of the Pac-12, which added Colorado and Utah prior to last season.
Southeastern Conference: The league that sent two teams to the BCS National
Championship Game will be getting deeper in 2012 when it adds Texas A&M and
Missouri. The two former Big 12 programs will make it a 14-team mega
Sun Belt Conference: The SBC will have 10 teams in 2012 as it admits South
Alabama's football program. FIU and North Texas are both out the door in 2013,
but Texas-Arlington, Georgia State and Texas State will all be entering the
league, which will increase the total of football programs to 12. The increase
of size opens up the possibility of a conference title game in the future.
Western Athletic Conference: The WAC seems to be the odd man out in the
conference shake-ups. It added Texas-Arlington, Texas-San Antonio and Texas
State for 2012, but is going to be left with just seven football programs after
losing Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii. There are going to be just two members
with football teams left in 2013 as Louisiana Tech, San Jose State, Texas
State, Utah State, UTSA and UT-Arlington all depart. The two remaining
programs, New Mexico State and Idaho, are in danger of being relegated to the
FCS when it's all said and done.
The changes to each conference in the FBS range from the non-existent to the
highly dramatic. Overall, the top leagues either improved or remained the same.
The Big East, which is considered one of the weakest BCS conferences, added a
program which will help restore respectability to the league. The SEC and ACC
continued to improve which will keep them at the top of the power rankings for
the time being.
The less powerful conferences were hurt by the upward movement of some of
their more successful programs. The MAC's approach of adding a successful FCS
team (UMass) might not pay dividends immediately, but the addition has the
potential to be beneficial down the road.
The WAC was depleted by the rapid conference jumping and faces a realistic
threat of extinction. The top tier division of college football is the only
major sport in the NCAA that still fails to name an undisputed champion every
season. The possible eradication of lower-level conferences could be a step in
the right direction, as it will give the best teams in those leagues a chance
to prove their worth against traditional national powers.
The Sports Network