College football's conference changes are hard to keep straight

The Western Athletic Conference is defunct, football schools of the Big East are now the American Athletic Conference, and more change is to come.

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Randy Edsall

Maryland Coach Randy Edsall and the Terapins will be spending one more season in the ACC before heading to the Big Ten. (Chuck Burton / Associated Press / July 22, 2013)

No need to demand a refund from Athlon or Lindy's because those preseason magazines failed to pick football winners this year for the Western Athletic and Big East conferences.

Football, in those leagues, has gone to the Big Coffin Corner Kick in the sky.

These represent the most dramatic changes in the ongoing onslaught of conference reconfiguration.

The good news is the Centers for Disease Control may finally have a handle on the exodus epidemic that has plagued college football since Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College bolted the Big East for the Atlantic Coast nearly a decade ago.

"Do you really think it's over?" San Diego State Coach Rocky Long recently wondered.

Yes … maybe … one can only hope.

The epitome of absurdness occurred two seasons ago when Syracuse played a cross-country game at USC.

Syracuse boarded the plane as a member of the Big East and landed as a member of the ACC.

In significant off-season news, though, all ACC schools agreed to a "grant of rights" arrangement. That means the ACC gets to keep the television money of any team that leaves for another conference.

This was a major move to protect the ACC from any further raiding, which is ironic given the ACC started all this realignment nonsense.

Not that the Big Ten had its eyes on Georgia Tech, or anything.

There is still a lot to keep straight:


Maryland leaves next year for the Big Ten. What? Yes, that deal was made before grant of rights. So Maryland is a lame turtle until 2014, when the ACC will add Louisville. The ACC this year adds Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the old Big East.

Big East

It fell apart and then reformed as a basketball league built around the Catholic schools. Basketball gets to keep the "Big East" name while football loosely reconfigured as the American Athletic Conference. The AAC keeps its automatic bid in the last year of the Bowl Championship Series, and it's fitting that outgoing Louisville is heavily favored to claim it. Rutgers plays one last year here before moving to the Big Ten. This year's 10-team league also includes Connecticut, Cincinnati, Central Florida, South Florida, Houston, Southern Methodist, Memphis and Temple.

Big Ten

It remains 12 teams this year and moves to 14 next year with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland.

Mountain West

It picked off two more bodies from the defunct WAC in San Jose State and Utah State. The Mountain West also caught a huge break when Boise State and San Diego State pulled out of planned moves to the Big East.

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