Connelly’s Conference U.S.A. preview: How will four newbies fit in?

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the NCAA’s biggest schools spent years wrangling and arguing, mostly over tv earnings, just how much of it the more football-obsessed schools might make, and whether said schools could break apart from the riff-raff to some degree. Time is a flat circle because regard.Eventually, Department I split into 1-A and 1-AA(now FBS and FCS) for football, and from a peak of 145 groups in 1977, 1-A’s membership had actually nearly sunk to double digits by the late 1980s.

That number quickly started to rise again, however. It was back up to 111 by 1996, when Boise State, Idaho, UAB and UCF all signed up with (or rejoined) the fray. It was 120 by 2009, then 130 by 2017. Even in a period in which authors and school administrators both discuss power-conference football programs breaking away from the pack– as they did 40 years ago– said subscription continues to climb.James Madison made it 131 teams last fall and did so in rousing fashion, going 8-3 in a tough Sun Belt right out of eviction. Now we stand at a frisky 133, inviting Sam Houston and Jacksonville State to the FBS celebration. Next fall, Kennesaw State, aka No. 134, joins too. Get the WAC/A-Sun up here, and we’ll be back to 145 in no time! The more, the merrier!It makes sense to

begin the 2023 college football season preview with the newbies, doesn’t it? Both Rich Rodriguez’s JSU Gamecocks and KC Keeler’s SHSU Bearkats join a Conference U.S.A. in shift; after viewing six of its programs leave for the American Athletic Conference (which itself lost three groups to the Huge 12), C-USA added two FBS newcomers and 2 previous independents in Liberty and New Mexico State. That makes 29 of 133 existing FBS teams– almost one quarter of them!– who have at least briefly lived in Conference U.S.A.. What a world we live in.The four newbies will take on five incumbents (Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, UTEP and Western Kentucky )this fall. In this two-part preview, we’ll talk about the new schools this week and the holdovers next week.Vacation’s over! It’s time to prep for 2023! Each week through the offseason, Costs Connelly will sneak peek another division or conference from the Group of 5 and Power 5 exclusively

for ESPN+, ultimately consisting of all 133 FBS teams. The previews will consist of 2022 breakdowns, 2023 sneak peeks and burning concerns for each team.

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