- Our 2023 American Conference Preview Taps UTSA In 3-Team Race

August 23, 2023 by Staff

The Congrove Computer Rankings and the media agree that SMU, Tulane and UTEP will be the top 3 teams in the American Conference.

The computer says UTSA is projected win by a mere 0.74 points at Tulane in the final regular season game to earn a 1st-place tie with SMU. Because the Roadrunners and Mustangs do not play during the regular season, UTSA would get the championship game hosting duties on the basis of a better over-all record and higher national ranking. The Roadrunners would then be favored by 16.09 in that contest to claim the title.

Meanwhile, 20 of the 34 media members polled listed Tulane as the conference title favorite, followed by UTEP (9) and SMU (3). The two remaining 1st-place votes were split between Memphis and UAB.

The computer and the media poll are dramatically different beyond the top 3.

For example, the computer puts FAU and Navy in a 4th-place tie as those two teams will not play this season, while the media have FAU 5th and Navy all the way down at No. 9. The computer has Memphis at No. 8, while the media put the Tigers in 4th.

The computer and the media poll are back in agreement for the bottom of the conference standings with USF and Charlotte bringing up the rear.

Conference realignment saw Cincinnati, Houston and UCF all move to the Big 12. The American then attracted Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA from Conference USA as it would up expanding from 11 teams to 14 when all was said and done.

The new unbalanced 14-team league created a lot of unavoidable schedule inequities.

 - UTSA has road trips to No. 3 Tulane and No. 4 FAU, while the Mustangs don't play either team

- The FAU Owls won't face the projected No. 7 Temple Owls, No. 6 North Texas, or No. 2 SMU

- Navy gets to avoid projected No. 3 Tulane and No. 1 UTSA

Also See: Projected 2023 FBS Standings, Final Four, Champion

Coaching Changes

Half of the conference's 14  teams have a new head coach.

Charlotte fired Will Healy after a 1-7 start and finished 2-2 under interim head coach Pete Rossomando. Now they turn to Francis "Biff" Poggi who is 63 years old and spent most his career coaching at the private high school level.

FAU fired Willie Taggart (5-7), and brought in former Texas head coach Tom Herman.

Navy unceremoniously parted ways Ken Niumatalolo (4-8), the winningest coach in the history of the Academy's football program.  Then they promoted his defensive assistant, Brian Newberry, with instructions to continue to run former head coach Paul Johnson's offense which Niamatatolo perfected.

North Texas signed Washington State OC and QB coach Eric Morris, who was 24-18 in his only previous head coaching job at FCS member Incarnate Word from 2018-21. Seth Littrell was was fired, despite leading the team to the Conference USA Championship. Phil Bennett, who was hired last year as defensive coordinator, was the interim head coach for the 35-32 loss in the Frisco Bowl on December 17 against Boise State.

Tulsa hired former Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson (2011-2017) and Ohio State co-offensive coordinator (2018-2022) to replace Philip Montgomery (5-7).

UAB passed on giving Bryant Vincent the official gig after a 6-6 season. Vincent was called into action when Bill Clark resigned for health reasons just weeks before the start of the 2022 season. The school wound up giving former NFL player Trent Dilfer his first head coaching gig beyond high school, and is paying him $1.3 mil per year to learn the job.

USF ditched Jeff Scott after a 1-8 start and lost its last 3 with assistant Daniel Da Prato serving in the interim capacity. Next up for the Bulls is Alex Golesh who spent the last 3 seasons assisting Josh Heupel in running productive offenses at UCF and Tennessee. South Florida actually had a decent offense in 2022, but the defense was 130th out of 131 teams in points allowed per game, and last in yards allowed.

Also See: Coaching Changes

Predicted Order of Finish

CCR = Congrove Computer Rankings
MEDIA= American Conference Media Poll

*-1 2 UTSA
1 3 Southern Methodist
3 1 Tulane
4 5 Florida Atlantic
4 9 Navy
6 7 North Texas
7 10 Temple
8 4 Memphis
9 6 East Carolina
10 12 Rice
11 8 Ala.-Birmingham
12 11 Tulsa
13 13 South Florida
14 14 Charlotte
*- UTSA hosts and wins conference championship game.