Six schools interested in moving to American Athletic Conference, per report

By Kevin Kelley -

Six schools are interested in moving to the American Athletic Conference, according to a report by Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports.

Per the report, the Charlotte 49ers, Florida Atlantic Owls, North Texas Mean Green, Rice Owls, UAB Blazers, and UTSA Roadrunners are each expected to apply for acceptance into the American Athletic Conference this week. All six teams are current members of Conference USA.

If all six teams apply and are accepted, the American would expand to a 14-team conference in 2023. The aforementioned six schools would join East Carolina, Memphis, Navy, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa, and USF.

The new schools also offer the current crew of football schools – Temple, Memphis, Tulane, USF, East Carolina, Navy, Tulsa and SMU – an entree into some of the richest recruiting areas in the country: Houston, San Antonio, greater Dallas, Ft. Lauderdale, Charlotte and Birmingham.

The AAC’s move comes on the heels of a thwarted effort to lure four Mountain West schools into the league. While the AAC never technically offered Boise State, Air Force, Colorado State and San Diego State, there was an extended courtship that was followed by a vocal commitment to staying in the Mountain West Conference. This move would limit the ability of the Mountain West to enter Texas, as it gives the AAC four schools in the state and no obvious options for the Mountain West to add.

The American will lose three teams beginning with the 2023 season. Back in September, the Big 12 announced the addition of the Cincinnati Bearcats, Houston Cougars, and UCF Knights to their conference.

Following the departure of UConn from the conference in 2019, the American scrapped their divisional setup. While it’s currently unknown if the American will move to divisions again, here is a look at a possible East-West alignment (based on geography alone):

American East

  • Charlotte
  • East Carolina
  • Florida Atlantic
  • Navy
  • Temple
  • UAB
  • USF

American West

  • Memphis
  • North Texas
  • Rice
  • SMU
  • Tulane
  • Tulsa
  • UTSA

American Football Schedule

Comments (16)

Yeah, I was wondering about that myself. I know Navy was in the West previously, and while part of that was because the replaced TCU who left before the conference started, I thought I’d read something that suggested they were happy with that arrangement, even though the travel would be significantly more.

Also, it seems kind of mean to put someone that much closer to Memphis into the conference (UAB) and then put them in the opposite division….?

Though I’m reticent to change and not real fond of the commissioner of the AAC, this is probably the best option moving forward. For the schools and for the conference.

Why would Memphis be in the west and UAB be in the East? Also, Navy previously wished to be in the west. They want the recruiting/exposure of playing in the state of Texas.

FB1: Because Memphis and Tulane need to stay together as they have been for so many years in past. Memphis/UAB has no such history.

Navy will be in the West. Their deal with the AAC has them playing in the Texas division (Navy demanded that).

Memphis will probably be in the East. That makes sense as they will likely wind up being UAB’s travel partner in basketball and volleyball.

The wording on this has been odd. The idea that 6 schools have been “interested” (but not invited) seems like it must just be cover for the whole “the AAC is trying to raid C-USA!!” legal stuff, right? Because it’s hard to imagine that, if these 6 are interested, there aren’t a few others who would be. I can’t imagine UTEP is thrilled with the idea of the 3 other Texas teams in their conference (including UTSA, who didn’t really have much of an athletics program, much less football, until well after UTEP… and UNT which is a second DFW-area school) are looking to leave without them. MAYBE if they had something in mind with the MWC or something, but that seems unlikely too. I imagine FIU would also be “interested” in following their conference partner, FAU, if it was just about who was “interested,” right?

It seems more likely that these are the 6 schools that are interested that are pretty sure they’ll get an invite, right?

I still find it strange that 14 seems to be a target number for conferences rather than 16, but that aside, it’s just kind of funny reading “6 schools are interested” when it seems pretty likely there are other clear examples of schools in the same conference who would also be interested…

14 works well for football: you get a conference championship and have 6 divisional games and rotate 2 (8 conf) or 3 (9 conf games) from the other division over three years. If 16, you’ve got no real scenario but a table with pods or “rivals and rotators”. 7 division and 1 (8 conf) or 2 (9 conf) means you don’t see the other division teams much.
I think the 9 conference-3 OOC with 6 divisional + 3 other rotating is a good product.
Basketball gets 26 home and aways with plenty flexibility left. If you go to 16, you’re at 30 home and aways, or you start skipping matchups…

I am really interested that they are only taking schools from Conference USA and none from the Sun Belt or the MAC?

Coastal Carolina is currently ranked #14 in the AP and Louisiana was ranked earlier this year and App St in previous years. I would suspect all three of those teams would be better for the AAC in wins and losses than any of the six they took.

4 of the teams they are bring in to the AAC have a “Power 5” Team in the near future in the same Metro Area plus the Blue Blood program that is also more popular in the city.

FAU – Miami and Blue Blood Florida
N Tex – TCU and Blue Blood Texas
Rice – Houston and Blue Blood Texas
UAB – Alabama which is also the Bluest Blood

Even Charlotte and UT San Antonio while not having other Power 5 Football Schools schools in the Metro Area are overshadowed by UNC, NC State in Charlotte and UT and TExas AM in San Antonio.

Lots of work to be done for the AAC.

Conference realignment is exciting! I like the fact that the AAC is entertaining the thought of six additional schools. That is needed because sooner or later Memphis is likely to depart to the Big 12. The AAC is obviously desiring to enter more major urban markets with the six schools under consideration. I do not like adding North Texas as we already have SMU in that market. I would prefer adding Georgia State (Atlanta) or even MTSU (Nashville). The AAC also needs to renew courting ARMY again. When Memphis goes, the AAC will need another school. And possibly two if the Big 12 gets another school (SMU or USF) to go along with Memphis. This is not going to be the end of realignment for very long.

Almost immediately after the official announcement that Texas and Oklahoma would leave the Big 12 and join the SEC, three of the power conferences (Big 10, PAC 12 and ACC) announced the formation of an athletic ‘association’ whose principle purpose will be to assure and promote athletic competitions between their constituent members to the exclusion of all members of all other conferences. With the SEC now having16 members and this new association having a larger collective membership (40 or 41 if you included Notre Dame) the hope is that this new SEC push for predominant influence in the world of college athletics, will be attenuated.

There has been no mention of the Big 12. Why? Because when all this comes to pass, the Big 12 will no longer be a power conference. There will be four power conferences (ACC, Big Ten, PAC 12 and SEC) and the group of five lesser conferences (American, Big 12, Mountain-West, MAC and a yet to be named Sun Belt/CUSA hybrid). It will really not matter which schools are in which conferences, they will all be just members of this new Group of 5, all with under resourced and shrinking athletic departments.

It is not exciting for this new group of 5, unless you enjoy funerals.

Spencer, your Power 4 thought is certainly possible. No doubt those conferences will be poaching a few more teams from your Group of 5 to get where they all have an equal (say 16?) # of teams. Don’t expect a funeral however. If the FCS can make it, the Group of 5 can also make it….although perhaps on their own without the P4.

American East
East Carolina
Florida Atlantic

American West
North Texas