The former Big East Conference became the American Athletic Conference on April 3rd after the Big East's seven catholic school members withdrew and took the Big East name with them. The conference retains its automatic entry into the BCS bowls.
The Big East's final meltdown began when Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced their defections to the ACC, preceding Rutgers' announcement that it was headed to the Big Ten.
Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF check in from Conference USA for 2013.
Tulsa will join for the 2014 season, along with East Carolina and Tulane. Louisville splits for the ACC next season. Those changes will give the league 11 football schools for 2014 with Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa, UCF and USF. The U.S. Naval Academy will become a football-only member in 2015 to give the league 12 teams and set the stage for a playoff game.
Last year, multiple teams tied for the league title - Cincinnati, Louisville, Rutgers and Syracuse. It was the third straight season in which at least 3 teams all shared the crown with 5-2 conference marks.
That isn't expected to be the case this year with Louisville viewed as a consensus, if not runaway favorite.
The Congrove Computer Rankings forecast the Cardinals to go unbeaten, but fall short of a BCS title game invite due to its own, and the conference's, low power rating.
UCF is a 10.79-point underdog at Louisville on October 18 for its only conference blemish and a projected runner-up finisher to the Cards.
The Golden Knights fell 33-27 in overtime to Tulsa in last year's Conference USA championship game.
Cincinnati is picked to roll off 9 straight wins before falling to Rutgers and Louisville in 2 of its final 3 games. It's a bit of a startling forecast given that Bearcats are one of 3 teams (predicted bottom dwellers Temple and USF are the others).
Tommy Tuberville leaves Texas Tech after three seasons to replace Butch Jones at Cincinnati after Jones accepted the Tennessee job. Jones' 3-year record with the Bearcats was 23-14 overall and 12-9 in the Big East as they tied for the conference title each of the last two years. Tuberville was 20-17 in Lubbock with all of the losses coming in conference games (9-17).
Temple hired Matt Rhule to replace Steve Addazio who heads to former Big East rival Boston College. Rhule's 14 years of coaching experience include six as an assistant at Temple where he served in various capacities under Al Golden and Addazio. He was plucked from the NFL's New York Giants where he spent last season as an assistant offensive line coach. Addazio spent just two seasons with the Owls. In 2011, he guided Temple to a 9-4 record (5-3, MAC) and a New Mexico Bowl win. Temple moved back to the Big East in 2012 and the school finished 4-7 overall and 2-5 in conference play.
USF fired Skip Holtz after turning in progressively worse records in each of his 3 seasons. The Bulls were 3-9 in 2012 after going 5-7 in 2011 and 8-5 in his inaugural year. Willie Taggart takes the reigns after leading Western Kentucky to a 16-20 record in 3 seasons. While the record doesn't impress on the surface, WKU was on a 25-game losing streak to FBS teams when Taggart arrived in 2010. After 6 more losses, he led the Hilltoppers to 16 wins over their next 30 games and the school's first bowl bid (Little Caesar's) in 2012.
USF was headed in the other direction, dropping from 3-9 in 2012 after going 5-7 in 2011 and 8-5 in his inaugural year (2010). He was just 16-21 at USF and a horrendous 5-16 in Big East games. Holtz was ultimately picked up by Louisiana Tech.