12:59 AM EDT, August 25, 2013
The latest conference realignment talk begins and apparently ends with the Atlantic Coast Conference.
League officials thought they hit a home run with the addition of Notre Dame, which would be bringing all of its sports except football starting in 2014. However, it was the group’s decision to sign a multi-year grant of rights deal which could be the biggest offseason move.
The new agreement virtually guarantees stability in the ACC, which in turn should slow down any further conference movement. At least for the foreseeable future.
Here are the latest moves:
The Buzz: Fearing that all of this conference realignment would soon tear apart its league, ACC officials moved quickly to add Pittsburgh and Syracuse into the conference starting in 2013. The departure of Maryland forced the league to add Louisville as well, but it was the league’s ability to convince Notre Dame to join the ACC in all sports except football that was the biggest offseason move, guaranteeing the conference some stability as well as name recognition.
The Buzz: A very public and very nasty feud between the football and basketball member schools in the Big East forced a bitter divorce in the offseason. The hoops schools took the Big East brand, forcing the remaining football schools to rebrand themselves into the American Athletic Conference. The new league added Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF for 2013 with Tulane, East Carolina, Tulsa (2014) and Navy (2015) set to join the league in the future, while Louisville and Rutgers will leave in 2014.
The Buzz: The Big Ten has never been known for making hasty decisions. After adding Penn State in 1990, it took the league another 21 years before deciding to add its 12th member — Nebraska — in 2011. However, conference realignment is not an old man’s game, and the Big Ten couldn’t wait that long in snapping up two new members in Rutgers and Maryland for the 2014 season.
The Buzz: Few conferences have gone through as drastic of a makeover as Conference USA endured this offseason. The league lost members Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF to the American Athletic Conference, and after a failed attempt at creating an alliance with the Mountain West, the C-USA reached down into the ranks of the Sun Belt to lure FAU, FIU and Middle Tennessee as well as Louisiana Tech and UTSA from the WAC to fill its ranks. Next season, Conference USA will add another Sun Belt team — Western Kentucky — and two former FCS teams in Charlotte and Old Dominion.
The Buzz: Idaho and New Mexico State joined the ranks of the independent this offseason not so much by choice, but by necessity. The Western Athletic Conference’s decision to fold its football operations forced the two schools to find refuge elsewhere. With no viable taker for 2013, both schools were forced to football’s version of limbo until both could find suitable homes in the Sun Belt starting in 2014.
The Buzz: The biggest offseason move for the Mountain West wasn’t so much an addition, but the ability to talk Boise State and San Diego State into remaining with the league rather than departing for the American Athletic Conference. The move provided the league with a little more clout in the conference pecking order and provided some much needed stability to the conference. The MWC did add Utah State and San Jose State from the WAC, which in turn provided the conference with enough members (12) to create divisions as well as a championship football game.
The Buzz: Conference expansion’s domino effect hit the Sun Belt hard forcing the league to retool much of its membership. FAU, FIU and Middle Tennessee all defected to Conference USA as did future member UTSA. In an effort to offset those moves, the Sun Belt added Georgia State, which is making the transition from FCS to FBS this season. The conference also picked up Texas State following its departure from the WAC. Next season, the group will add Idaho and New Mexico State — as well as another FCS power Appalachian State.
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