In recent months, the landscape of college football has started to change drastically, in part due to new pending expansions in two Power Five conferences. Now, the American conference looks to follow suit with its own expansion.
This week, the AAC will be looking to add Florida Atlantic (or FAU), Charlotte, North Texas, UTSA, Rice, and UAB. In July, the southern college football juggernaut that is the SEC added two more powerhouses, Texas & Oklahoma, from the Big XII. In turn, the Big XII announced they will be adding Cincinnati, Houston and UCF from the American conference, as well as BYU.
If these moves are to stick through, the additions to the AAC would make it a 14 team conference in both football and basketball. The new alignment would look as such:
- East Carolina
- Florida Atlantic
- North Texas
- Navy (football only)
- South Florida
- Wichita State (basketball only)
The AAC’s expansion will continue the conference realignment domino effect, as Conference USA would be gutted by the move, losing six of their schools.
With this move, the American is looking to gain more exposure to a national audience through its television contract with ESPN. The incoming schools, with the exception of North Texas and FAU are located in metropolitan areas. Rice University is a private university located in the heart of Houston, TX. Its campus is just 11 minutes from the University of Houston, one of the schools set to leave for the American.
The UTSA Roadrunners call San Antonio, TX home and they play their home games at the iconic Alamodome. Charlotte University and the University of Alabama-Birmingham are both located in the southeastern cities of the same name.
Due to the added exposure, the incoming Conference USA 6 should see a light boost in annual television revenue. The teams are set to make $2 million a year, which will increase over time, while the American’s established schools will average about $7 million a year through 2032.
While losing Cincinnati, Houston and Central Florida are big blows to the American conference, its expansion could prove to be the most important transition in its history. Six new schools will offer the AAC new eyeballs to its product, new rivalries, and more recruitment opportunities.