It’s that time of year when you break out your favorite college apparel and begin the football season. You have your conference predictions and you’re ready for your first game. But wait- you turn on the TV and see that your school isn’t in its conference anymore. In fact, your conference isn’t even there!
Conference realignment has been one of the dominant topics in college football the last few years. Some moves have been major, such as Big Ten and ACC expansion and another realignment within the Big East, but other conference lineups have changed since the end of last season. Fans who have just adjusted to the changes in 2012 have to gear up for brand new ones for 2013.
Want to look ahead? Need to catch up? Get your favorite college apparel out- here’s yet another guide to college football realignment for the 2013 season.
The new American Athletic Conference will begin its inaugural season this year, while the Catholic Seven leaves, taking the Big East name with them. Although the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Louisville Cardinals are the two primary teams in the league, they will only be playing in it for one season. After that, teams such as University of Cincinnati, University of Connecticut, University of Memphis, Temple University and University of South Florida will take the reins. It will be intriguing to see how the ACC will handle itself during such challenging circumstances.
The Atlantic Coast Conference welcomes Syracuse University and University of Pittsburgh from the Big East this season, making it a 14-team league. When you’re bundled in your college sweatshirts on the sideline, make sure to take note on how these two teams fare. Although they may not be much help in the football department, they are great additions in basketball.
Six new members join the Conference USA this year. Louisiana Tech and UT-San Antonio arrive from the late WAC followed by Florida International University, University of North Texas, Florida Atlantic University, and Middle Tennessee State coming from the Sun Belt. Losing University of Houston, Southern Methodist University, University of Central Florida, and University of Memphis is a huge loss for the C-USA, putting the conference on uneasy feet this season.
Mountain West becomes a 12-team league this season with the valuable inclusion of San Jose State and Utah State. It’s time to break out your San Jose State Spartans t-shirts and Utah State Aggies jackets! With these two new additions, the MW has the chance to split into two six-team divisions and hold a first-ever conference championship game.
The Georgia State Panthers and Texas State Bobcats join the Sun Belt just as FIU, North Texas, MTSU, and FAU head out for C-USA. Although on paper this now 8-team league may look like a weak conference, the upgrading FCS schools and new football programs could work over the long haul.
As for the rest of the conferences, no major moves have been noted for this year. The Independents will see University of Idaho and New Mexico State join its fellow Notre Dame, Brigham Young University, and Navy teams for a single season. The Western Athletic disintegrates as its teams move on to bigger and better things. As for the Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, and Mid-American, there are no changes necessary. They will stay the same and continue to dominate the board and you can continue to wear your college apparel with pride.
Conference realignment is not completely over. It appears conferences like the Big Ten and possibly the SEC will add teams in coming years to get to that magical number of 16. It might not happen during this season, but sooner or later, more changes are going to come. Support your favorite team and conference this season with customized apparel!