There were two major stories in The American in the past year. The first was Cincinnati's entry into the College Football Playoff Final four, the first-ever for a Group Of Five team. Then came the news that Cincinnati, Houston and UCF would leave the conference and join the Big 12 in 2023 with each school paying an early exit fee of $15 million each. Independent BYU will join that trio.
Then came the striking news that Oklahoma and Texas are leaving the Big 12 and joining the SEC, presumably in 2025, potentially stripping the Big 12 of a huge sum in TV broadcast rights deals.
For now, all eleven teams remain, but the division structure is gone. Instead, the top two will vie for the conference championship and that will come down to the same three schools that will exit next year with Cincinnati and Houston in a tie at the top, and UCF as the next-closest competitor. Ultimately, the Congrove Computer Rankings tops off its 2022 forecast with the Bearcats hosting and defeating the Cougars by 7.78 points.
The computer sees as many as 7 bowl qualifiers with East Carolina, SMU, Tulsa and Memphis all managing records of 6-6 or better.
SMU and Temple are the only teams in the conference that will enter the season with a new head coach.
Rhett Lashlee was announced on November 29 as Sonny Dykes' replacement with SMU, three days after SMU lost Dykes to Metroplex rival TCU. Dykes was allowed to coach his teams' last game which it lost 34-31 at home to Tulsa as SMU lost 4 of its last 5 to finish 8-4. Dykes leaves the school with records of 30-18 over-all and 18-13 in the American Conference. He is 71-63 in his career. Lashlee was Miami's offensive coordinator in 2020 and 2021 after previously serving as OC under Dykes at SMU in 2018 and 2019.
Temple fired Rod Carey on November 29 after a 3-9 season. His inaugural team went 8-4 in the 2019 regular season, but that team was clobbered 55-13 by North Carolina in the Military Bowl and the Owls proceeded to lose 15 of their next 19. He leaves with marks of 12-20 overall and 7-16 in the American Conference. Carey's over-all record is 64-50. Stan Drayton was introduced as the new head coach on December 16. At the time, it was the last open slot on the coaching carousel. Drayton had held the titles of associated head coach and running backs coach at Texas since 2017, working under both Steve Sarkisian and Tom Herman. He was also the running game coordinator. Prior to his stint with the Longhorns, Drayton coached running backs for the Chicago Bears (2015-2016) after logging four years at Ohio State for Luke Fickell and Urban Meyer. Over-all, he has spent 29 years as an assistant, almost exclusively coaching running backs. Though the Temple post is his first as a head coach, the Owls may well have knocked this one out of the park.
|*Cincinnati hosts and defeats Houston in the American Conference Championship game|