College football conference realignment, love it or hate it, has finally settled down after what seemed like an absolute free for all for about a decade. But there are still some squads moving up to FBS, from D2 to FCS, and one university that is doing something no football team has ever done – moving down from FBS to FCS.
2017: Coastal Carolina
It's hard to believe the Chanticleers have only fielded a squad since 2003 and are now poised to join the Sun Belt.
After winning an astounding seven Big South Conference titles, Coastal Carolina played last season as an FCS Independent as it transitioned to the FBS. It will play as a full-time member of the Sun Belt in 2017, and will have full bowl eligibility in 2018.
Welcome back to Conference USA, UAB Blazers. We missed you.
After a two-year hiatus from FBS football, the university reinstated the program, and the new-look Blazers will finally return to action on September 2 against Alabama A&M.
The squad with quite possibly the best logo in all of FCS is moving from the Pioneer League to the Big South next year. Pretty impressive for a school that went without football from 1951 to 2007 before reinstating it in 2008.
The poor Vandals.
When the WAC dissolved in 2012, Idaho was left out of the Mountain West realignment. After playing two seasons as an FBS Independent, Idaho joined the Sun Belt. Unfortunately, just like the next team on our list, the Sun Belt essentially booted the school out of the conference after this year.
Idaho has now decided to make the unprecedented move from the FBS down to the FCS in 2018 where it will join the Big Sky Conference.
2018: New Mexico State
The Aggies were the only other team to be homeless after the WAC dissolved and followed the same path as Idaho. The key difference in 2018 is NMSU will play as an FBS Independent, similar to UMass.
You may know more about Liberty football than you think. Does Turner Gill ring a bell?
Gill took over a Buffalo program in 2006 that was easily one of the worst in the country. Two years later the Bulls were MAC champions. After a short-lived and unsuccessful stint at Kansas, Gill will help lead Liberty into the FBS.
The interesting part of this move is that the Sun Belt rejected Liberty's request to join the conference so the Flames will play at the FBS level as an Independent. With the Sun Belt saying no, their best bet might be Conference USA down the road.
2018-2019: North Alabama
The Lions will be packing their bags and moving twice over the next few years.
They are departing the Gulf South and leaving D2 football behind to transition into the FCS. They'll play as an FCS Independent in 2018 before moving into Campbell's spot in the Big South in 2019.
Expect North Alabama to be competitive right away, as they have been a mainstay in the D2 playoffs in recent years, including playing in last year's championship tilt.