The major conferences may have largely stablized, but conference realignment continues to be a dominant offseason theme in college football.
The past few days have seen major shifts in the college athletics landscape. While these haven't been driving the news cycle as they involve the smaller conferences, they are very significant nonetheless, as they have essentially led to the death of the WAC as a conference, and have the potential to send one school (Idaho) back to 1-AA, for lack of having a conference to play in.
The biggest current news involved the raiding of the WAC, as Utah State and San Jose State have agreed to join the Mountain West; Louisiana Tech and UT-San Antonio will leave the WAC for Conference USA, who will also nab North Texas and Florida International from the Sun Belt, among others. Meanwhile, to make up for its poached members, the Sun Belt has taken Texas State from the WAC before that school ever plays a game there, and there are rumors that New Mexico State could be a Sun Belt target as well. This would leave the WAC with only one football member (the aforementioned Idaho), as well as two non-football members (Seattle and Denver). The two basketball members are in big markets and will find new homes. Idaho stands to be the ultimate team left behind, as their lack of a market or notable success, as well as a poor stadium could leave them crawling to the safety of the 1-AA Big Sky conference, unless the NCAA is somehow able to step in and persuade the Mountain West to throw the Vandals some charity.
Further complicating things is the rumored new college football playoffs, a big element of which would eliminate the concept of 'AQ' status. Rumors are circulating that this could have Boise State and San Diego State rethinking their jumps to the Big East, potentially choosing to return to the Mountain West. There are very real ramifications for Boise State, as their non-football sports were supposed to return to the WAC, which may no longer be a possibility.
These moves are happening over a period of a couple of years. After the jump, we have some charts to track conference realignment over the next couple of seasons, and try to answer the questions of who is playing where. Note that the MAC is not included, as they stay in their current alignment, with the exception of losing Temple to the BIg East. I am also ignoring basketball-only teams, although there is some realignment going on among basketball only schools as well.
|Florida Atlantic||Florida Atlantic|
|Florida International||Middle Tennessee State|
|Middle Tennessee State||Georgia State (new to D1)|
|South Alabama (new to D1)||South Alabama|
|Western Kentucky||Western Kentucky|
|Arkansas State||Arkansas State|
|North Texas||Texas State|
The Sun Belt may not be done, as I'm sure they would love to get to 12 members and host a championship game. As was mentioned before, there are rumors that New Mexico State could be one of those members. The other one would likely be a 1-AA callup, as Idaho seems to far out of the way to be a reasonable choice here.
|Air Force||Air Force|
|Boise State||Colorado State|
|New Mexico||Fresno State|
|San Diego State||San Jose State|
The Mountain West would love for Boise State and San Diego State to reconsider moving east, as that would preserve two of their biggest football programs and give them enough members for a championship game. However, they likely aren't enough in love with the idea of twelve to invite Idaho and New Mexico State, which provide little to the conference from either a football or media market standpoint.
|Central Florida||East Carolina|
|East Carolina||Florida International|
|Southern Miss||Louisiana Tech|
Charlotte and Old Dominion are also joining Conference USA, but are bringing their football programs up from lower divisions, and it is unknown which years they will become football members.
|South Florida||South Florida|
|San Diego State|
The Big East has further realignment extending past the 2013 season, as Pitt and Syracuse head to the ACC, and Navy will join the Big East as a football member in 2015. Ultimately, if everything were to go to plan, the conference would end up with 14 football schools in 2015, but I believe its likely that Boise State and San Diego State end up in staying in the Mountain West, and if any of these schools get an invite to a bigger conference, they are gone in a heartbeat. The Big XII could easily poach a Louisville and Cincinnati combo, while UConn and Rutgers could be attractive to the Big Ten or ACC.
Hope this helps you answer your questions about who is playing where in the coming years. I'm sure the coming week will bring more realignment news that makes this post obsolete.