C-USA was arguably falling behind the rest of the Group of Five in 2022, and the conference will have an even tougher path to relevance in 2023 and beyond. Six solid programs are leaving the league for the AAC in 2023, leaving the conference with an identity crisis.
The league now turns to programs without much FBS relevance, hoping a few teams can reach higher levels and make the conference competitive in the Group of Five. That’s not an easy task, but a few programs figure to consistently win in the coming years.
Teams Leaving C-USA
Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB, and UTSA are leaving C-USA for the AAC on July 1, 2023. That’s a massive loss for the conference in the short term and in the long term.
FAU just added former Texas Head Coach Tom Herman, and UTSA returns stud quarterback Frank Harris. Both of those teams are intriguing immediately and in the long-term future.
Charlotte added Biff Poggi from Michigan, giving the program a head coach it believes can make it more consistent over the next five years. Even North Texas and UAB made coaching changes over the offseason, giving the programs interesting storylines in 2023.
Those six programs seem committed to finding success on the gridiron, which should lead to competitive battles in the AAC in 2023 and beyond. C-USA losing out on those matchups hurts the conference significantly.
Of the Group of Five conferences, C-USA might be the most obvious “loser” in some of the most recent realignment moves.
Teams Joining C-USA
On the bright side for C-USA fans, the league still exists! There is a path to relevance, which requires new additions to make an immediate splash.
Liberty, New Mexico State, Jacksonville State, and Sam Houston will join Conference USA in 2023. Kennesaw State will enter the league in 2024.
Liberty is the most notable of the additions, as the Flames played well in recent seasons under Hugh Freeze. The Flames won eight games in each of the past two seasons, and 10 games the season before that. The 10-win campaign featured a notable victory over Virginia Tech.
Although Freeze left for Auburn this offseason, Liberty replaced him with Coastal Carolina Head Coach Jamey Chadwell. He’s one of the top head coaches at the Group of Five level, and there’s reason to believe Liberty will continue winning eight or more games a season in the immediate future. Liberty could quickly become the conference’s marquee program.
The other entrants offer less appeal, although Jacksonville State, Sam Houston, and Kennesaw State found good success at the FCS level in recent years. Can those programs turn quality FCS campaigns into wins at the FBS level? That could be key to C-USA’s future.
2023 C-USA Members
C-USA features just nine teams in 2023, and the conference won’t use divisions. The top two teams in the conference standings will meet in early December for a conference championship game.
The nine teams in C-USA for the 2023 season are:
New Mexico State
Bennett Conlin is a college football contributor for HERO Sports, and he works full-time covering sports betting industry news and legislation for Sports Handle and US Bets.