2013-03-04 07:00

OK, let's focus on the next season conference roulette.

Several teams did decide to leave their last year’s conference (some decided this year ago, so most of the moves are no surprise here) and will join a new one or will become independent.

Let's start with the TOP of the food chain, the

The conference is already packed with 14 members organized in two Divisions (Eastern and Western).
They had Missouri and Texas A&M added last season and it looks like NO team will join in the next 1-2 seasons.

The reason for that is probably, that after the big conference changes in FBS-Football the last 3 seasons, several conferences second to the SEC (in terms of income and quality) did raise the fee for leaving.
So if not a very nice offer is coming, no football team from those conferences will join the SEC and the SEC will probably not invite a team from a conference with a lower level.

The only two possible "free" teams which might be interesting, but not interested are BYU and Notre Dame.
Both are independent, but as today not interested, so the SEC will play with 14 teams which suits them well, I think.

Teams added 2013:

Teams lost 2013:

Number of Teams for 2013: 14 Teams

Next in line would be the

BIG 12
The Big 12 was before the big changes in the last few seasons a conference with 12 football members, two divisions, a championship game and a bright future.
But then did the big conference roulettes start and it was rumoured that several big teams will join the PAC as a package and some others had already the movers at their doorsteps.
The reason for all that was money (of cause).
Nebraska did leave to the BIG TEN, Colorado did leave to the then called PAC 10 and 6 others were already close for leaving.
A quick (and probably for the weaker teams expensive) agreement was found to keep the remaining 10 teams in the conference, but the championship game was lost due to the fact that you need 12 teams to be allowed to field one.
Then, a season later, Texas A&M and Missouri did leave for the SEC and the BIG 12 was down to 8 teams, which would mean the almost certain death of the conference.
But they were able to get West Virginia from the Big East and TCU from the Mountain West to get back to the amount of 10 teams.

It doesn't look like they will add new teams (to get back to 12 for the Championship game) the next 1-2 seasons.
Instead they asked the NCAA to review their 12-team rule and open it up so a conference can decide if they want a championship game or not, regardless of their member count.
Of cause this is money driven, even they argue about "clear playoff contender (for the upcoming playoff system) and bolstered reputation for the national championship contender."
Yeah ... sure.

Bottom line is, they will stay at 10 teams.

Teams added 2013:

Teams lost 2013:

Number of Teams for 2013: 10 Teams

Next in line would be from my point of view the

PAC 12
In the progress of the conference changes in the last couple of years, the PAC 12 was one of the winners, even when they did not get those juicy BIG 12 teams, it was rumoured about.
They got Colorado and Utah, did grow that way from 10 to 12 teams, split into two divisions (North and South), did get a championship game and did keep most of their old rivalries alive.
Even when the NCAA did hammer some teams because of violations, the conference did survive well, thanks to the regular national title contenders and some revived other teams.

So far there were basically zero rumours regarding an additional recruiting of 2 or more teams.

It looks like the Conference will be stable for the next 1-2 seasons.

Teams added 2013:

Teams lost 2013:

Number of Teams for 2013: 12 Teams

Which brings us to the next power house conference, the

BIG 10
The BIG TEN was for a long time a conference with 11 teams. Then they brought Nebraska into the conference and because of the now 12 teams they split into two divisions and created the championship game.
That whole Penn State mess and the Ohio State sanctions did not suit them well, but they will live through that.
Open is, if they will rename their totally crazy Division names (Legends and Leaders ... Yes ... I know ...)

In 2013 nothing will change, except Ohio State can contend again, but 2014 will see the addition of Maryland (from the ACC) and Rutgers (from the Big East).
Rutgers is a good decision, Maryland is kind of a downer in football terms, but maybe the next coach can turn things around.
And remember they join most of the time in ALL sports and as far as I know, is Maryland a Basketball university (not TOP level, but better than average).

So in 2014, so far as we know, they will have 14 members.

Teams added 2013:

Teams lost 2013:

Number of Teams for 2013: 12 Teams

Next in line of conference is the

From here on do the real changes happening.
The ACC was stable since Boston College did join in 2005.
Since then the Conference had 12 teams, 2 Divisions (Coastal and Atlantic) and a Championship game.

Then did two Big East teams of Pittsburgh and Syracuse decide to join for the 2013 season.
So they will have 14 teams then.

But (as you can read in the Big Ten section) the University of Maryland did decide to leave for 2014.
And a week later did the Big East team of Louisville decide to leave their conference to become the new 14th team in the ACC, only the date is not set yet.

So some changes for the ACC in the next 2 years.

Teams added 2013:
Syracuse (from the Big East)
Pittsburgh (from the Big East)

Teams lost 2013:

Number of Teams for 2013: 14 Teams

And we move to the last automatic qualifier conference, the

The Big East had to fight incoming and outgoing teams since beginning of 2004.
The big realignments at that time did hit the conference hard and it is not over since then.
At the moment it looks like soon all basketball schools will leave for 2015/2016 on their own and NO FOUNDING MEMBER WILL BE LEFT after that.
That's huge.
It means that the conference did develop in a totally different direction than the founding members wanted.
Granted, that's only valid since 2004, but still ... all left (or will leave) and the rest ...

Last season (2012) the conference had just 8 teams playing football.
There were rumours and statements over joining teams, but at the end many of them did chose another conference.
TCU wanted to join for example, but did get a better deal from the BIG 12.
They did lose West Virginia on a very quick exit to the Big 12 in 2012 and did only add Temple to replace it.
So they were fine for 2012 with 8 teams, but the future was bad.
Pittsburgh and Syracuse did announce their leave for 2013 (to the ACC).

Rutgers (goes to the Big Ten 2014) did announce their leave and Louisville did also announce their departure for 2014 (to the ACC).
Not good, right? 8 - 4 => 4 Teams?

No, not good. But the Big East was able to get other schools from Non-AQ-Conferences to join.

Houston, UCF, SMU and Memphis will join in 2013. Also planned were Boise State and SDSU, but both teams did decide to NOT join (from the MWC, a Non-AQ-Conference), because for the upcoming playoff system.
It was announce, that the Big East has to compete with the MWC, the CUSA, the MAC, and the Sun Belt Conference for an automatic BCS Bowl berth then.
A status the Big East had until 2014, but might lose then and it looks like Boise State and SDSU did see the MWC in the lead for that berth, not the Big East. Autsch.

Still, the Big East added Conference USA teams of Tulane and East Carolina for 2014 and Navy for 2015.
It is very likely they will try to add some more teams, at least one for 2015, since then they could field a championship game.

Teams added 2013:
UCF (from CUSA)
Houston (from CUSA)
SMU (from CUSA)
Memphis (from CUSA)

Teams lost 2013:
Syracuse (to ACC)
Pittsburgh (to ACC)

Number of Teams for 2013: 10 Teams

Let's move to the next Conference, the first Non-AQ-Conference is the

Mountain West
The Mountain West is not that old, but did already lose some big programs.
Utah bolted to the PAC 12 in 2011, BYU did leave to become the "Notre Dame of the West" as independent team and TCU did move to the BIG 12 after flirting with the Big East.
Things did not look so good when Boise State and San Diego State (SDSU) decided to leave for the Big East, but at the end that move was cancelled.
As written in the Big East section, Boise State did NOT leave, since they thought the Mountain West has the bigger chance to get an automatic bid for the BCS-Bowls.

So the future looks bright at the moment, since the Conference did lose 3 teams, but did also gain 3 teams in 2012 with Hawai'i, Nevada and Fresno State (all from the WAC)
They were also able to get some of the remainings of the WAC (which will not support football from 2013 on) with San Jose State and Utah State for 2013.

This all means, they will have 12 teams in 2013, will split in two divisions (Mountain and West, how innovative ...) and will get the opportunity to field a lucrative championship game.

Teams added 2013:
San Jose State (from WAC)
Utah State (from WAC)

Teams lost 2013:

Number of Teams for 2013: 12 Teams

The future will have to show us, if the next conference can keep ground as runner up behind the MWC in the rankings. The

Conference USA
This conference was raided several times. And it happened again.
Around 2003-2005 was a big change for them, many teams did bold for the Big East or other conferences and were replaced by teams from lower level conferences (WAC and MAC).
They just had a good size with 12 teams but now it happens again. The Big East did call (again) and UCF, Houston, SMU and Memphis did leave for 2013.
To make it worse, also East Carolina and Tulane will leave for 2014.
But the conference did call out invitations by itself and several teams did answer.
For 2013-15 will join 8!! teams from several conferences (6 will join 2013, 2 teams which will join in all sports 2013, except football, which will then join as football teams in 2014 and 2015).
The big question will be, if the level of playing quality will drop.
On paper it has to happen, but you never now ....
They will have 14 teams in 2013 and will keep their two divisions (East and West) and will fill them with the incoming teams.

Teams added 2013:
Florida International (from SBC)
Florida Atlantic (from SBC)
North Texas (from SBC)
Middle Tennessee State (from the SBC)
Louisiana Tech (from WAC)
UTSA (from WAC)

Teams lost 2013:
UCF (to Big East)
Houston (to Big East)
SMU (to Big East)
Memphis (to Big East)

Number of Teams for 2013: 14 Teams

Now let's have a look at the

Mid-American Conference
The MAC was NOT hit hard by all the realignments of the last few years.
They lost Marshall and UCF in 2005 and Temple for last season.
That's not much.
The got UMass as former FCS program and I'm not sure if they will stay for long, but so far the conference is stable and there are basically NO signs or rumours regarding leaving teams.

So for 2013 it looks good. They will have their 13 teams in two divisions (East and West) and they will have their championship game.

Teams added 2013:

Teams lost 2013:

Number of Teams for 2013: 13 Teams

On the other hand there is the

Sun Belt Conference
Very long time this was the bottom of the FBS level. It can basically only go up from here.
Many teams did come and go in the last decades.
To be fair, they did not sponsor football before 2001.
Since then New Mexico State, Idaho and Utah State did leave (for the WAC).
Now the next wave of leavers is here and it did hit the conference hard.
4 teams did leave and with former 10 football teams and now down to 6 the conferences needed some additional teams very bad.
Good for them, the WAC did basically collapse regarding football and they got Texas State and they also got former FCS program Georgia State for 2013.
Still, this is not a good sign, since 8 teams is not a healthy size, considering the gaps some conferences still have to host a championship game.
This is far from over and it could be, if some of the BCS-Conferences do want to get bigger (for example the Big 12 or the Big East), at the end of the foot chain lays the SBC and the conference might suffer the same fate as the WAC.

Teams added 2013:
Texas State (from the WAC)
Georgia State (former FCS)

Teams lost 2013:
Florida International (to CUSA)
Florida Atlantic (to CUSA)
North Texas (to CUSA)
Middle Tennessee State (to CUSA)

Number of Teams for 2013: 8 Teams

Only one conference and the independents left to discuss. Next in line of the conferences is the

Western Athletic Conference
The WAC is whacked ....
If you look at the WAC history there is a pattern you cannot ignore.
That pattern is simply "get out if you have the opportunity".
At the end, it did cost the WAC football in total.
Last season was the last one, when 7 teams did battle for the WAC crown.
Of those 7 teams, 2 were former FCS teams.
Of those 7 teams, 5 teams were already set to leave (to CUSA, MWC and SBC) when the season 2012 started, do the math ....
For 2013, with only 2 teams left playing football, the conference will close its gates for supporting football.
The 2 remaining football teams will move on, too. Now.
Idaho will do something very drastic, they will play as an independent in 2013 and then will become an FCS team, means they will go a level down!
That does not happen very often.
New Mexico State will also play as an independent for 2013, but what happens after that is not clear.

Teams added 2013:

Teams lost 2013:
Idaho (Independent)
New Mexico State (Independent)
Louisiana Tech (to CUSA)
San Jose State (to MWC)
Utah State (to MWC)
Texas State (to SBC)

Number of Teams for 2013: 0 Teams

And now comes the rest. If you are not part of any conferences you are listed as

There is not much to say about this group of teams.
Some did choose this status on purpose; some did not have other opportunities.

Last season there were 4 teams listed as independents and there is no "independent champion" or internal competition here.
It's just a bucket to put all non-conferences teams together.

It looks like some teams will move to conferences in the near future, but I think there has to happen a lot more until Notre Dame with its huge TV contract will elect to join a conference in football.
So probably the independents will be there for some time in the future.

For 2013, two more teams will join the ranks by force, since the WAC did not support football any longer and Idaho and New Mexico did not land any invitation for any other conference (which is a surprise, since some conferences are in real trouble not going the WAC path).

In 2014 will a then former FCS team play one season as an independent (Old Dominion) and Idaho will probably go down to become an FCS team.
In 2015 will Navy join the ranks of the Big East and leave its independent status.

This group can easily change very fast since each team could join a conference for the next season without any delays.
New Mexico State will probably get an invitation at some point in the future, but since money is always an issue here, this can take years.

The key for the future for ALL Conferences is the developments in the Big 12, the Big East and eventually in the other BCS Conferences.
If they decide to grow a bit further, the weaker and weakest conferences will suffer and will take whatever is left.
The independents beside Notre Dame and BYU will be on anybody’s list in that case.

Notre Dame and BYU would probably only join a big BCS Conference and only if there would be a real benefit in that.

Teams added 2013:
Idaho (from WAC)
New Mexico State (from WAC)

Teams lost 2013:

Number of Teams for 2013: 6 Teams

That it. I hope this list does give you an overview over the upcoming changes.
This topic is far from over. I think there will be further changes.
For example I think the Big 12 will NOT get its wish for a championship game with 10 teams, so they WILL expand to at least 12 teams in the near future.
Those teams have to come from somewhere and there are not many teams "free" to pick.
Also the Big East WILL try to expand beyond that 12 teams barrier to have a financial stable situation including a championship game.
I think it's a must to have for the future and every conference NOT supporting such game will probably have a hard time surviving on the FBS market.

‘Til next time

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