As the Oklahoma and Texas moves continue to reverberate through college football, Conference USA is trying to be proactive. Over the weekend, CBS Sports reported that the league planned to reach out to the AAC and Sun Belt about some common sense regional realignment among the three leagues' member schools.
Those three Group of Five conferences have some significant overlap in terms of geographic footprint. The AAC is likely still the best of the three leagues, even after losing Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF to the Big 12, though it definitely moves them closer to the rest of the Group of Five pack than to the bottom of the Power Five.
The AAC will likely look to poach from C-USA and the Sun Belt now, after getting turned down by some Mountain West programs. In order to get out ahead of the situation, C-USA will propose that the AAC and Sun Belt joins them in reshuffling the existing leagues into more regional entities.
Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger says that C-USA plans to reach out to the AAC today. It is unclear if they'll involve the Sun Belt, but he also says that one of "several different models for a reorganization" involves the rival league.
“There’s so much insanity. This is worth a shot instead of continuing to perpetuate the insanity," Conference USA commissioner Judy MacLeod told SI.
"Our presidents are willing and would like to have broader conversations about it. We can’t do it alone.”
UAB is among the schools most desirous to the AAC, now that the Mountain West options appear to be off the table. As one of C-USA's top programs, it makes sense that MacLeod and her league want to protect what they have, and the regionalization idea has some merit. Regional rivalries and fan bases are part of what make college football great, and bringing some of that back could really benefit the lower league.
Of course, the likelihood that the AAC agrees to a pact, and helps elevate another league rather than take its best members, is very unlikely. Many have pointed out what a big swing this is.
Not everyone is opposed though. SB Nation's Underdog Dynasty, which covers the Group of Five, seems to think this is more forward-thinking than MacLeod and C-USA are being given credit for.
It is very unlikely that the AAC sees the value here. Even if they agree on regionality, they're the league that would give the most up to get there. Still, it is hard to fault C-USA, which may be the weakest of these three conferences, for trying something different.