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Here's what you need to know about Realignment 2014

Maryland seeks to enhance its bowl stature vs BC

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Maryland coach Randy Edsall reacts to a confirmation replay of his team's final score against Virginia Tech in an NCAA college football game in Blacksburg, Va., Saturday, Nov. 16 2013. Maryland defeated Virginia Tech 27-24 in overtime. (AP Photo/The Roanoke Times, Matt Gentry)

It’s finally here.

After months of logo changes and field alterations, the latest round of conference realignment is complete.

Please, contain your excitement.

On Tuesday, all conference changes became complete and 12 schools found themselves in new conference homes. Some were upgrades, some were lateral moves and some were just moves out of necessity.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the changes and how those teams will affect the conference title races in the fall.


Former conference: Southern (FCS)

New conference: Sun Belt

What to expect: Appalachian State made a national name for itself in 2007 when it went into the Big House and beat Michigan. But even before that it was considered one of the top programs in the FCS. But the last few years haven’t held up to Appalachian State’s high standards with two 8-4 finishes in 2011 and 2012 and a dismal 4-8 record last season.

Not sure things will get much better this year in a conference that has seen quite a bit more parity in the past few years.


Former conference: Conference USA

New conference: AAC

What to expect: East Carolina is coming off a 10-3 season, its first double-digit win campaign since 1991. The Pirates didn’t win Conference USA East, but it had impressive wins against North Carolina and NC State last season and it barely lost to Virginia Tech 15-10.

The AAC is kind of a mixed bag considering it looks more like Conference USA than the old Big East, which means there’s some familiarity for East Carolina and it should be able to make an impact in its new conference immediately.


Former conference: Southern (FCS)

New conference: Sun Belt

What to expect: Yes, this is the same Georgia Southern team that knocked off Florida at the Swamp in one of the more shocking upsets of 2013 and we should expect more of the same as they join the Sun Belt this season. Unlike Appalachian State, the Eagles have a lot of weapons, including many that were on last year’s team, that could make them one of the favorites in the Belt this season.


Former conference: Independent

New conference: Sun Belt

What to expect: Idaho tried to go the independence route last season after its former conference, the WAC, crumbled and no FBS homes were there to take it in. It was ugly. The Vandals finished 1-11 for the second consecutive season and was forced to play a schedule that was as daunting as any in college football.

There’s no doubt Idaho’s invite to the Sun Belt was both charitable and necessary, but not sure the Vandals are going to add much to the Sun belt in 2014.


Former conference: AAC

New conference: ACC

What to expect: Leaving the AAC was the best possible move for Louisville considering the conference had turned into Conference USA Part II, but don’t expect the Cardinals to flash the same dominance they did in 2013, especially with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and coach Charlie Strong gone.

It doesn’t help that the Cardinals were placed in the Atlantic Division with Florida State and Clemson, which should make for a tough transition period even with the great Bobby Petrino roaming the sidelines.


Former conference: ACC

New conference: Big Ten

What to expect: This was probably the most scrutinized move of all the conference changes because it was about money, not quality. In the past three years, Maryland has had one winning season — last year’s 7-6 campaign — and has gone 13-24 in that span. But the Washington D.C. television market creates a big financial boon for the Big Ten Network and its partners.

It’s hard to predict what Maryland will do this season. It’s been plagued with major injuries during coach Randy Edsall’s tenure, but has shown flashes of being a decent team. Unfortunately for the Terps, they're in the East Division, which is the toughest side of the conference.


Former conference: Independent

New conference: Sun Belt

What to expect: New Mexico was in the same situation as Idaho last year and ended up with a similar result. The Aggies finished 2-10 and have not had a wining season since 2002. While the move to the Sun Belt is a good one, it probably won’t yield much better results for the Aggies. Of the newcomers to the Belt, Idaho and New Mexico might struggle the most.


Former conference: Independent

New conference: Conference USA

What to expect: Old Dominion made a strong move from the FCS to the FBS last year with an 8-4 campaign and should find similar success in a Conference USA that is going through it’s own transition period.

The Monarchs had just one win against an FBS team last season (Idaho), but has a solid offense to compete in Conference USA and at least hold its own against a tough East Division.


Former conference: AAC

New conference: Big Ten

What to expect: Yet again, this is a marriage of money. Rutgers brings the New York/New Jersey television market, but it’s not exactly a top-tier football program. The Scarlet Knights were 6-7 last year, but did have two 9-4 campaigns prior to that. It is important to point out that those records came in conferences that were weaker than the Big Ten.

And, like Maryland, the Scarlet Knights are in East Division where they’ll have to compete with Ohio State and Michigan State two of the nation’s top teams a year ago.


Former conference: Conference USA

New conference: AAC

What to expect: It’s been a long time since Tulane has been a team to talk about in football, but after last season’s 7-6 finish, the team’s first winning season since 2002, there’s a feeling the Green Wave are on an upswing. So, moving into the AAC, which is really just an alternate version of Conference USA, is a positive step for a program that’s looking to turn its fortunes.

While this team might not be a league contender right away, it will be competitive and that’s more than could be said about the Green Wave a couple years ago.


Former conference: Conference USA

New conference: AAC

What to expect: Don’t let last year’s 3-9 record fool you. Tulsa has been one of the best nonautomatic qualifying conference programs in the past decade or so. Remember, this is a team that finished 11-3 in 2012 and it should be able to regain some of that form in a conference that looks a lot like the one from that 2012 campaign.


Former conference: Conference USA

New conference: AAC

What to expect: Western Kentucky is the fifth team to leave the Sun Belt for Conference USA, which makes it kind of a lateral move, though it does get better competition and a little more prestige.

The Hilltoppers lost coach Bobby Petrino and a few key pieces from last year’s 8-4 team, and open the season against a Bowling Green squad that won 10 games last year. Still, the Hilltoppers should be competitive against a schedule that includes several teams with losing records a year ago.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter!

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