The American Conference has attempted to hold its place as the sixth-best conference in college football with a new plan for expansion coming this week, according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports.
The expectation is that they will be accepted and the AAC will grow to a 14-team football league. (Also 14 teams in hoops.)— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) October 18, 2021
Right now the league has 11 teams, but Cincinnati, Central Florida, and Houston are joining the Big 12 at some point to be negotiated later. But the adding of Charlotte, FAU, North Texas, Rice, UAB, and UTSA means the AAC is continuing to focus on bigger secondary markets when making expansion decisions, likely with an eye on a newly-negotiated media rights deal that will kick in when the other three teams leave.
The six new schools are all members of Conference USA, which feebly pushed for some kind of league merger last week. That appears to have been denied by the AAC, where though the media deals are still a pittance compared to the Power Five, they are significantly more than what C-USA offers.
The AAC is expected to retain Navy for only football, and Wichita State for all other sports.
The letter asking for a merger was signed by the of North Texas university president Neal Smatresk, who now appears to be applying for membership in the American. And this is why conference realignment will never end; because each institution has a duty to do what’s in their own interests, and not that of the collective.
Now the question becomes where does C-USA turn to fill the hole in their lineup. The pickings are slim, with schools like New Mexico State, UConn and UMass potentially the only current FBS institutions in need of a home. Will they raid the top of the FCS level? We’ll find out soon.