Kiff always brings the lulz.
Let’s be honest here: Conference USA is hodge-podge bag of crap. The island of misfit football programs if you will. They aren’t important enough to rank with the AAC or Mountain West. But they truly believe they are higher in the pecking order than the MAC or Sun Belt (debatable). So they are caught in an awkward FBS No-Fly Zone of sorts. Doesn’t help that they have the worst set of TV contracts in FBS by far and there is no regional atmosphere. Programs span from the Atlantic Ocean all the way to El Paso. If they were smart they would start talks with the Sun Belt to “create” two new conferences with more of a geographical nature to them. This would cut travel time and travel costs, foster rivalries that make sense (oh you mean that hot Charlotte-North Texas rivalry hasn’t piqued fans’ interests?), and probably boost attendance (which, for some teams, is sad). I have done this before but here’s how I would envision the split (you know, if conferences honestly gave a shit about college football as a whole which they don’t):
|New Conference USA||New Sun Belt|
|Coastal Carolina||South Alabama|
|Old Dominion||Louisiana Tech|
|Western Kentucky||Arkansas State|
|Florida Atlantic||North Texas|
|Middle Tennessee||Texas State|
|UAB||New Mexico State|
This is based on New Mexico State being allowed to stay in the newly formed Sun Belt. If not, take NMSU out, put Liberty in C-USA and move UAB to the Sun Belt. Easy. So there you go, Conference USA would be more of an Eastern and Southern conference with the Sun Belt going to a South/Southwest feel. They could each use one out-of-conference game against the other conference. Also, it would make a lot of sense to try and get an OOC game with a Power Five school close by. Again, keeping travel down. Go talk to NBC and see if you could perhaps get a game on NBCSN every week (with the conference championship on the main network). There are ways to do this: it’s just that no one wants to. And it will lead to another major shift in college football in the next decade. It’s inevitable.
UPDATE: In my haste I forgot Southern Miss. That’s not nice. They can replace New Mexico State, move to the East, and then Arkansas State can head to the west. Or they can just move up to the American. Either one works.
Alright, enough of Fantasyland. It’s time for predictions…which is kind of a fantasy type thing since it’s predictions (although I don’t use bias here…otherwise FAU would mop the floor with everyone granting us more Kiffin Greatness). These predictions will be followed by some pedestrian commentary:
- Ho-hum. WKU will again be the class of Conference USA. I honestly believe this team would do pretty well in the American Conference. They will pass the ball like 100 times a game and make football look fun (not that we will see a lot of it).
- Hey UAB returns! So ridiculous that they decided to shutter football in the first place (or more like the university up in Tuscaloosa kind of decided for them) but it’s nice that they are back. Now take your place in the basement of the, wait, what?
- That’s right, UTEP is god-awful. Like seriously bad. I can’t honestly see them getting more than one win. I’ve been wrong before but I don’t see any other experts saying the Miners will be bowl-eligible or anything like that so I feel safe with that prediction.
- You know who else will be pretty bad? Florida International. And who’s their new coach? That’s right, Butch Davis! Yes, THAT Butch Davis. Florida is going to be awfully fun as a whole for college football this season.
- Which brings us back to the Kiff. You just know that somehow Kiffin is going to make this team competitive. I have them being juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust outside bowl eligibility but I could see them eeking out the one extra win to go bowling. Which would mean more Kiffin in a national spotlight. Oh my.
- I have UTSA and LaTech finishing atop the West but the head-to-head will go to the Bulldogs meaning the Roadrunners (Meep Meep!) will have to wait another year before getting to a conference title game. Saying that, we should see them, along with WKU, at the top of the C-USA standings for years to come.
- The C-USA Championship should be an easy win for the Hilltoppers. Should be. Saying that, these G5 championship games can sometimes be a crapshoot. Either way, unless USF somehow blows a gasket and loses a game, Western Kentucky won’t even be sniffing a New Year’s Six spot.
- Seven bowl eligible teams is what I am predicting for the Conference of the U, S, and A. Six primary bowl tie-ins along with a seventh secondary one will provide just enough spots for the teams. Yay me?
We are almost at the end folks. Next up it’s a little Fun Belt time! Then finally it will be the MAC and then the conferences will be done with being predicted. Posts follow with bowl predictions, my (usually) horrible Heisman ballot, hot seat coach report, and perhaps other posts. Who knows right? Season is 22 days away. A little over 3 weeks. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!