2014 College Football Preview: Conference Changes
Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin catches a touchdown pass in the 2014 BCS National Championship Game (Robert Hanashiro / USA Today Sports)

We are closing in on the start of the 2014 College Football season. With that comes a bevy of changes, especially in this climate of Conference Realignment. Some teams have changed conferences while others have also changed Subdivisions. For the uninitiated, or the masses who are completely confused, there are two Subdivisions in Division 1 College Football. There is the FBS, or Football Bowl Subdivision, which may be remembered as Division 1-A. There is also the FCS, or Football Championship Subdivision, better remembered as Division 1-AA.

We will go through each conference and document the changes that have occurred. In addition, we will also document any new bowl games that have been added.

American Athletic Conference (AAC)

The AAC used to be called the Big East, but has since changed it to the American Athletic Conference. This conference has undergone quite a change this year. Louisville departs for the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and Rutgers heads off to the Big 10.

Despite those losses, East Carolina, Tulane, and Tulsa all join in 2014 from Conference-USA. Navy will join the AAC in 2015 to make it an even twelve schools.

There are 11 teams in the AAC. Those teams are Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, Southern Methodist (SMU), South Florida, Temple, Tulane, and Tulsa.

Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)

There have been only two changes for the ACC this year. The first is that Maryland has left for the Big 10. The second is that Louisville has joined the conference to replace the Terrapins. The ACC stands at 14 teams as they did in 2013.

The ACC is split in two division named Atlantic and Coastal. In the Atlantic Division, we have Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, North Carolina State, Syracuse, and Wake Forest.

Comprising the Costal Division is Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami (FL), North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.

There are no known plans of expansion for the ACC, but in this shaky era, anything is possible.

Big 12

There are no changes to the Big 12 this year. They remain at ten teams for the near future. As previously stated, that could change in this landscape.

The ten teams are Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech, Texas Christian (TCU), and West Virginia.

Big 10

The Big 10 just keeps on expanding. They went from eleven members in 2010 to the current number of fourteen in 2014. They lose no members for 2014, but they add two from the Eastern United States. The two new members are Rutgers and Maryland.

Another big change (yes, pun intended) is the renaming of the Divisions. Gone are the confusing Legends and Leaders titles in favor of the more recognizable, and popular, East and West.

In the East, the Big 10 will feature Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, and Rutgers.

In the West, we have Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, and Wisconsin.

Conference USA (C-USA)

Conference USA has been the hardest hit during the conference realignment period of the last five years. This year is no exception. C-USA loses East Carolina, Tulane, and Tulsa to the American Athletic Conference (AAC). To replace those losses, C-USA added Western Kentucky from the Sun Belt Conference and Old Dominion from the FCS.

C-USA had fourteen teams last year, but now has the odd number of thirteen this year. The East Division has seven teams, which includes Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, UAB, and Western Kentucky.

The West Division has the remaining six teams of Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Southern Mississippi, UTEP, and Texas-San Antonio (UTSA).

C-USA will add Charlotte in 2015 to get back to fourteen teams.

FBS Independents

The Independent classification tends to usually be a stopover for most teams. 2013 had seven teams in the classification. Only four remain this year. New Mexico State and Idaho depart for the Sun Belt Conference while Old Dominion moves over to Conference USA.

The four remaining teams are Army, BYU, Navy, and Notre Dame. Navy will depart in 2015 to the American Athletic Conference.

Mid-American Conference (MAC)

The Mid-American Conference has been largely untouched by conference alignment. In fact, the same thirteen teams return in 2013.

In the East Division, we have the seven teams of Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State, Massachusetts, Miami (OH), and Ohio.

In the West, the remaining six teams are Ball State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo, and Western Michigan.

Massachusetts will leave the MAC after the 2015 season to find a “more suitable conference.”

Mountain West Conference (MWC)

The 2014 version of the Mountain West Conference is the same as the 2013 version. No teams have left and no teams are coming into the MWC. There are twelve teams spread over two division.

The MWC is divided into the Mountain Division and the West Division. In the Mountain Division, there are the schools of Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, Utah State, and Wyoming.

The West Division is made up of Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, San Diego State, San Jose State, and UNLV.

Pacific-12 Conference (Pac-12)

As with the Mountain West, there are no changes in the Pac-12 conference for 2014. The twelve teams that were a part of the conference return in 2014 under the same divisions.

In the North Division, we have California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington, and Washington State.

In the South Division, the six schools are Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, UCLA, USC, and Utah.

Southeastern Conference (SEC)

The SEC underwent expansion for the 2012 season with the additions of Missouri and Texas A&M, but nothing has changed since then. The SEC remains at fourteen members.

The East Division has Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt.

In the West, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M are the members.

Sun Belt Conference

2014 looks quite different for the Sun Belt Conference compared to 2013. There were eight members last year and there will be eleven in 2014.

Leaving the Sun Belt Conference is Western Kentucky as they head to Conference USA. Joining the Sun Belt are Idaho and New Mexico State from the FBS Independent classification. Idaho and New Mexico State were previously in the Sun Belt from 2001 through 2004. In addition, FCS schools Appalachian State and Georgia Southern are arriving from the Southern Conference.

New Arrivals

Each FCS member transitioning to the FBS has been documented above. However, we will provide a summary of each team making their way to the FBS again.

Appalachian State and Georgia Southern are joining the Sun Belt Conference after playing in the Southern Conference. Old Dominion is moving up from the FCS Independent classification. Finally, Charlotte, and FCS Independent in 2014, will move up to FBS in 2015 and join Conference USA.

Post-Season Changes

2014 marks the start of the College Football Playoff as a replacement to the BCS. Four teams will take part in the College Football Playoff with the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl serving as Playoff semifinal games.

A total of 39 bowl games, including the three College Football Playoff games, will be played following the 2014 college football season.

Four new bowl games appear on the schedule. The four new games are the Camellia Bowl, the Miami Beach Bowl, the Boca Raton Bowl, and the Bahamas Bowl. The Camellia Bowl will be played in Montgomery, Alabama and played on December 20, 2014. The Miami Beach Bowl will be played at the home of the Miami Marlins on December 23, 2014. The Boca Raton Bowl will be played in Boca Raton, Florida, which is the home of Florida Atlantic. The date of the Boca Raton Bowl is December 23, 2014. The Bahamas Bowl will be played in Nassau, Bahamas on December 24, 2014.

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