College Football Landscape Will Change Drastically With Realignment for 2005
by Mike Mitchell
The ACC started it when the conference began wooing Miami, Syracuse and Boston College before the start of the 2003 season. But their grand plan for creating a larger cash cow was altered by politics and the end result was a better geographical pick-off that absorbed Miami, Virginia Tech (instead of Syracuse) and Boston College.
The first shot had been fired in what would become one of college football's largest conference realignment scrambles in modern day history. In 2005, seven of the eleven conferences (plus the independent ranks) will be affected by the changes, 20 schools will be aligned differently than they were in 2003, and 2 programs will move up from 1-AA.
The 2004 season kicked-off with very few changes in league make-ups. Only four teams started the year in different conferences - Virginia Tech and Miami in the ACC, Connecticut in the Big East and Troy State in the Sun Belt.
2005 will be a much different story.
Prior to the ACC's raid, the Big East had already planned to bring in Connecticut by 2005 and drop Temple. By necessity, they sought to shore-up their unexpectedly depleted ranks. The Big East moved up their timeline with UConn and set their sights on CUSA. It didn't take long to secure agreements from Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida. The domino effect had only just begun.
Here is how each conference (and independents) will look when the 2005 season kicks off. Their affiliation change from 2003 is in parenthesis.
Boston College will enter the league in 2005 as the 12th team and the conference will split into two divisions. The division winners will meet for the ACC Championship which is scheduled for Jacksonville, Florida in 2005 and 2006.
Boston College (Big East)
Miami (Big East)
Virginia Tech (Big East)
The conference operated as a seven-team league in 2004 after losing Miami (Fla.) and Virginia Tech to the ACC while picking up Connecticut a year earlier than originally planned. In 2005, the Big East loses Boston College to the ACC and Temple moves to the MAC. Three teams from CUSA move into the fold - Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida.
South Florida (CUSA)
Five teams will leave the league and six will enter. Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida move to the Big East. TCU heads to the Mountain West. Army goes back to being an independent. The newcomers are Central Florida and Marshall from the MAC, along with four teams from the WAC - Rice, SMU, Tulsa and UTEP. The league will form two divisions and plans to begin staging a championship game in 2005 at the home stadium of the team with the best conference winning percentage.
Central Florida (MAC)
Navy and Notre Dame were the only two teams that were not affiliated with a conference for the 2004 season after Connecticut entered the Big East and Troy State moved to the Sun Belt. For 2005, the Independent ranks briefly doubled as Army left CUSA and Temple lost its Big East affiliation. But Temple's independent status was short as the Owls accepted an invitation on May 17, 2005 to join the MAC.
The league loses Central Florida and Marshall from the East Division. Temple enters the league's East Division as an "affilate" member for 2005 and 2006 and a full football member in 2007. Bowling Green shifts back to the east where it resided from 1997 (when the league first split into two divisions) through 2001.
Temple (Big East)
The MWC plucks TCU from CUSA as its ninth member.
San Diego State
The conference loses Idaho, New Mexico State and Utah State to the WAC. It adds two schools that are moving up from 1-AA status - Florida Atlantic and Florida International. FIU, however, is not eligible for the conference title or postseason play until 2006.
Florida Atlantic (1-AA)
Florida International (1-AA)
Troy State (Independent)
Idaho, New Mexico State and Utah State move in from the Sun Belt to replace outgoing UTEP, SMU, Rice and Tulsa who were siphoned-off by CUSA.
Idaho (Sun Belt)
New Mexico State (Sun Belt)
San Jose State
Utah State (Sun Belt)