2023 Changes To FBS Conference Alignment

January 17, 2023 by CollegeFootballPoll.com Staff

College football conferences will undergo significant realignment in 2023 with 3 programs leaving the American to join the Big 12 as 6 schools migrate to the American from Conference USA. Meanwhile, three teams will abandon the Independent rank to join conferences, and 2 FCS schools will move up to the FBS level and become members of Conference USA.

Overall, FBS membership increases from 131 programs to 133.

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Here are the memberships of each conference for 2023.

ACC

Boston College
Clemson
Duke
Georgia Tech
Florida State
Louisville
North Carolina
North Carolina State
Pittsburgh
Syracuse
Virginia
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest

Notes: The conference scraps the two-division format (Atlantic and Coastal). The championship game will instead feature the top two teams in the entire conference. The roster of teams remains intact.

Future changes: None are planned.

American

Charlotte (formerly CUSA)
East Carolina
FAU (formerly CUSA)
Memphis
Navy
North Texas (formerly CUSA)
Rice (formerly CUSA)
SMU
Temple
Tulane
Tulsa
UAB (formerly CUSA)
USF
UTSA (formerly CUSA)

Notes: The conference expands to 14 teams despite losing Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to the Big 12.

FAU's move to CUSA means a separation from its south Florida rival, FIU, whose campuses are a mere one hour apart with the Owls in Boca Raton and the Panthers in Miami.

The conference absorbs the last six CUSA football champions - North Texas (2017), UAB (2018, 2019, 2020) and UTSA (2021, 2022). Additionally, North Texas played for the title and last season, while FAU played in the Conference USA championship game in 2019 and 2017.

The American Conference keeps last year's title winner (Tulane), as well as the 2017, 2018 and 2019 champion Memphis Tigers. It loses the 2020 and 2021 champion Cincinnati Bearcats and 2015 champion Houston Cougars. Prior to the conference staging a championship game, UCF won the outright title in 2013 and shared the crown with Cincinnati and Memphis in 2014.

 

B1G

EAST
Indiana
Maryland
Michigan
Michigan State
Ohio State
Penn State
Rutgers

WEST
Illinois
Iowa
Minnesota
Nebraska
Northwestern
Purdue
Wisconsin

Notes: The conference will keep the two-division format (East and West) and continue to stage a championship game between the top team on each side. The roster of teams remains intact.

Future changes: The conference will welcome UCLA and USC from the PAC-12 in 2024. At that time, it's expected that the conference will scrap the two-division format and may also reduce the number of conference games from 9 to 8 to allow for more flexibility in scheduling non-conference games.

Big 12

Baylor
BYU (formerly Independent)
Cincinnati (formerly American)
Houston (formerly American)
Kansas
Kansas State
Iowa State
Oklahoma
Oklahoma State
TCU
Texas
Texas Tech
UCF (formerly American)
West Virginia

Notes: The Big 12 finds itself once again in a state of reformation as BYU leaves the Independent ranks while three of the top programs from the American conference become new members - Cincinnati, Houston and UCF. That takes the conference from 10 members to 14.

Future changes: Oklahoma and Texas will be exiting to join the SEC no later than 2025, and more likely in 2024.

At that point, the Big 12 will actually be a 12-team league for the first time since Colorado (PAC-12) and Nebraska (Big Ten) left after the 2010 season. Missouri and Texas A&M departed the following year, so the conference added TCU from the Mountain West and West Virginia from the Big East,a  league which became defunct a year later.

CUSA

FIU
*-Jacksonville State (formerly FCS)
Liberty (formerly Independent)
Louisiana Tech
Middle Tennessee
New Mexico State (formerly Independent)
*-Sam Houston (formerly FCS)
UTEP
Western Kentucky

Notes: The conference loses the last six league champions to the American Athletic Conference - North Texas (2017), UAB (2018, 2019, 2020) and UTSA (2021, 2022). Additionally, North Texas played for the title and last season, while FAU played in the Conference USA championship game in 2019 and 2017.

The six defections were replaced with four incoming schools, taking two each from the Independent ranks and the FCS.

*-Neither Sam Houston or Jacksonville State were eligible for the FCS playoffs in 2022, and neither will be eligible for the conference championship game or the bowl season in 2023. Sam Houston won the FCS national title in the extended Covid season (Fall 2020 to Spring 2021), while Jacksonville State played for the title and lost in 2015.

Liberty became a FBS program in 2018.

New Mexico State has been a nomadic program since the WAC ceased operations as a FBS conference after the 2012 season. The Aggies found a temporary home in the Sun Belt from 2014-2017 after spending 2013 as an independent. NMSU once again became a program without a conference in 2018.

Five CUSA schools will help launch the 2023 season with games in "week zero", including a pair of conference contests on August 26 when FIU visits Louisiana Tech, and UTEP heads to Jacksonville State. In addition, New Mexico State will host UMass.

Independents

Army
Notre Dame
UConn
UMass

Notes: It becomes more more less viable to attempt to exist as an Independent program with just four unaligned schools remaining. This year, BYU leaves to join the Big 12, while Liberty and New Mexico State both move to Conference USA.

MAC

East
Akron
Bowling Green
Buffalo
Kent State
Miami (OH)
Ohio

West
Ball State
Central Michigan
Eastern Michigan
Northern Illinois
Toledo
Western Michigan

Notes: Nothing changes. The league remains intact with no additions or subtractions of schools, and will continue to operate with a two-division format.

Future changes: None are planned.

Mountain West

Air Force
Boise State
Colorado State
Fresno State
Hawaii
Nevada
New Mexico
San Diego State
San Jose State
UNLV
Utah State
Wyoming

Notes:  Nothing changes. The league remains intact with no additions or subtractions of schools, and will continue to operate with a two-division format.

Future changes: None are planned.

PAC-12

Arizona
Arizona State
California
Colorado
Oregon
Oregon State
Stanford
UCLA
USC
Utah
Washington
Washington State

Notes:  Nothing changes for 2023. The league remains intact with no additions or subtractions of schools.

Future changes: USC and UCLA will leave for the B1G for the 2024 season. The conference has yet to announce replacements, and doesn't appear to have lot of viable options outside of extending invitations to Mountain West members Boise State, Fresno State and San Diego State. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

SEC

Eastern
Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
Missouri
South Carolina
Tennessee
Vanderbilt

Western
Alabama
Arkansas
Auburn
LSU
Mississippi
Mississippi State
Texas A&M

Notes:  Nothing changes for 2023. The league remains intact with no additions or subtractions of schools, and will continue to operate with a two-division format.

Future changes: Oklahoma and Texas will depart the Big 12 to join the SEC no later than 2025, and more likely in 2024.

Sun Belt

East
Appalachian State
Coastal Carolina
Georgia Southern
Georgia State
*-James Madison
Marshall
Old Dominion

West
Arkansas State
Louisiana
South Alabama
Southern Miss
Texas State
Troy
ULM

Notes:  Nothing changes. The league remains intact with no additions or subtractions of schools, and will continue to operate with a two-division format. The conference appears to be as healthy as it has ever been.

*-James Madison still gets left out in the cold in its second season of transition to the FBS, with no postseason play permitted for the conference title or bowl season.

Future changes: None are planned.