Conference Moves – Just the Facts

I was looking through SB Nation’s excellent series of college football previews when I dawned on me that even I didn’t know about all the various conference moves that happened this past off-season. So let’s go through them.

Same As Last Year

  • Big 12 (10 teams): Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Christian, Texas Tech
  • Big Ten (12 teams): Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Pennsylvania State, Purdue, Wisconsin
  • MAC (13 teams): Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Massachusetts, Miami, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan
  • Pac-12 (12 teams): Arizona, Arizona State, California, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, California-Los Angeles, Southern California, Utah, Washington, Washington State
  • SEC (14 teams): Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana State, Mississippi State, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas Agricultural and Mechanical, Vanderbilt

Dead Conferences
The venerable Western Athletic Conference disbanded in football. The Big East also died for the most part, with most of the schools leaving for different conferences this year or next year. The American conference rose from its ashes, as we’ll see below.

Automatic Qualifying Conferences
Note that this designation only applies for this last year of the BCS. The American is grandfathered into the BCS via the Big East, and they will lose their seat at the table in the new play-off.

The ACC has two new members, Pittsburgh and Syracuse, joining Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest for a total of 14 teams.

The new, inoffensively named American Athletic Conference debuts this year. It consists of six former Big East members (Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida, and Temple) and four former Conference USA members (Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, and Southern Methodist).

Four New Teams
The number of teams playing top-level NCAA football rises from 120 to 124 teams this year, with Massachusetts, Texas-San Antonio, Texas State, and South Alabama losing the “transitional” tag. Transitional this year is Georgia State, and they will be full members in the Sun Belt next year. More are on their way in 2016 and 2017.

Shakeups in the Minor Conferences
The result of all this are massive shakeups in the minor conferences.

As a result of the dissolution of the WAC, New Mexico State and Idaho found themselves without homes this season, though they will join the Sun Belt in the future. For now, they join fellow independents Army, Brigham Young, Navy, and Notre Dame.

Now here’s the really confusing part.

Conference USA welcomes in Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Middle Tennessee State, and North Texas from the Sun Belt. Louisiana Tech and Texas-San Antonio join from the WAC. They join Alabama-Birmingham, East Carolina, Marshall, Rice, Southern Mississippi, Texas-El Paso, Tulane, and Tulsa to give CUSA 14 teams. (For now.)

The Mountain West picked up San Jose State and Utah State from the WAC, joining Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, Nevada-Las Vegas, New Mexico, San Diego State, and Wyoming for a total of 12 teams.

That leaves the Sun Belt. They gained South Alabama and Texas State. Together with Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Troy, and Western Kentucky they have 8 football playing members.

So, in summary, here’s what I should’ve done in the first place: a table.

Conference Gained Lost
Atlantic Coast Pittsburgh (Big East), Syracuse (Big East)
American/Big East Central Florida (CUSA), Houston (CUSA), Memphis (CUSA), Southern Methodist (CUSA) Pittsburgh (ACC), Syracuse (ACC)
Conference USA Florida Atlantic (Sun Belt), Florida International (Sun Belt), Middle Tennessee State (Sun Belt), Louisiana Tech (WAC), Texas-San Antonio (WAC) Central Florida (AAC), Houston (AAC), Memphis (AAC), Southern Methodist (AAC)
Mountain West San Jose State (WAC), Utah State (WAC)
Sun Belt South Alabama (FCS), Texas State (FCS) Florida Atlantic (CUSA), Florida International (CUSA), Middle Tennessee State (CUSA)