The American Athletic Conference officially announced the additions of a trio of Texas schools on Thursday morning. UTSA, North Texas, and Rice will join UAB, Charlotte, and Florida Atlantic as new additions to the conference at a date to be determined. Press releases from the in-state schools suggest that the move will happen for the 2023 football season. The move puts the future of Conference USA in doubt, a conference that UTEP remains in at the current time.
Confused? Don’t worry. When the dust settles, here is where the 12 FBS programs in Texas will play football.
Texas A&M – The Aggies jumped ship from the Big 12 to the SEC back in 2012. Texas A&M is 43-31 in SEC play since making the move. It is undeniable that the jump helped Texas A&M’s success on the football field. Recruiting improved and the Aggies were able to sign Jimbo Fisher to a large contract. It’ll be interesting to see if the recruiting success is challenged by the additions of Oklahoma and Texas. The Aggies tended to trail those schools in recruiting when the trio played together in the Big 12.
Texas – The Longhorns aren’t scheduled to join the SEC until 2025, but most expect Texas and Oklahoma to pay an exit fee to allow the two schools to start playing in their new conference as soon as 2022 or 2023. The move comes after a decade-plus of struggles for the Texas football team. First-year head coach Steve Sarkisian hopes to use the lure of SEC football to help improve the offensive and defensive line through prep recruiting and in the transfer portal. The move will reunite the Longhorns with former conference foes such as Texas A&M and Arkansas.
Baylor – The Bears go from a have-not to one of the powerbrokers of the Big 12 with the departure of Texas and Oklahoma. Maybe the television money won’t be the same down the road, but Baylor should get a better seat at the table when discussing Big 12 matters. Baylor beat future Big 12 foe BYU by two touchdowns in Week 7.
Texas Tech – The Red Raiders are happy that the Big 12 is forging forward without Oklahoma and Texas. Lubbock can be considered no-man’s land in terms of television markets, so staying connected with the Big 12 is good news for Texas Tech.
TCU – The Horned Frogs accepted an invitation to join the Big 12 in 2011 when it became clear that multiple teams were moving to new conferences. Success was easier to find early in the Big 12 days than it has been the last few seasons. The same coach – Gary Patterson – is charge of the Horned Frogs then and now. The best news for TCU was that SMU was not one of the teams invited into the Big 12.
Houston – Houston football took a hit when the Southwest Conference disbanded, and the Cougars were left in the cold by the Big 12 when it formed in 1996. That is 25 years of football purgatory for Houston that will end when the Cougars join the Big 12 no later than July of 2024. Houston could become a member of the Big 12 as soon as 2023. The move to a Power Five conference should help the Cougars keep more Houston talent at home.
SMU – SMU was left out of the AAC exodus to the Big 12 despite an improving football program and its location in Dallas. It’s hard to imagine the Fort Worth-based TCU Horned Frogs weren’t instrumental in that omission. The Mustangs will remain in the AAC and welcome a trio of new in-state additions.
UTSA – The Roadrunners didn’t even field a football team more than a decade ago. In those 10 years, UTSA has risen from nothing to the AAC. That’s an incredible job by the administration and a big deal for the city of San Antonio.
North Texas – North Texas is located close enough to DFW to be an intriguing program to add to the AAC. The Mean Green are only a few years removed from winning nine games in back-to-back seasons.
Rice – The Owls provide access to the Houston market, on television and in recruiting. AAC lost Houston to the Big 12, so Rice can help plug that hole and give the conference a footprint in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.
Texas State – The Bobcats are in a good spot with the Sun Belt. It is possible that the conference begins poaching remaining members of Conference USA.
UTEP – The most intriguing FBS program remaining in Texas is UTEP because of the uncertainty surrounding Conference USA. Will the Miners stay true to C-USA and hope the conference adds a few teams to keep the conference relevant, or can UTEP swing a move to the Mountain West to play with teams in a more travel-friendly environment? The Mountain West announced no plans to expand, leaving UTEP in limbo with the future of Conference USA up in the air past 2023.
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