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Conference Realignment Expansion Draft: Day 3

With only 20 spots left we enter the final stages of the draft as well as analyze the entire draft.

NCAA Football: Houston at Southern Methodist Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

We have now reached the final four rounds of this realignment draft. Day 1 and Day 2 featured some interesting trends. In Day 3 we’ll see if they become full circle.

Round 9

41. The Mid- South Athletic Conference (Aikman Chamber) selects: East Carolina Pirates

Reasoning: Seeing ECU on the board nine rounds in was a definite must draft situation for me given the success this program has had. It works on many levels for the MSAC, ECU is in the state with App and a short distance from Norfolk with ODU.

42. The Big Least Conference (AJ Grande) selects: South Alabama Jaguars

Reasoning: At this point in the draft, it became increasingly difficult to find teams that could fit the successful tradition of the BLC. USA is another team on the rise that I believe will grow into a winning program very soon. The program is very young, starting play in 2009 and entering FBS in 2013. Since then, they have already reached two bowl games and already notching a signature win over a P5 school.

43. The Southern Coast Conference (Tanner Spearman) selects: Charlotte 49ers

Reasoning: Charlotte doesn’t have much football history, but they have potential to grow. Their winning tradition in basketball makes them a solid ninth round addition to the eastern wing of the SCC.

44. The Revolutionary Conference (Joe Serpico) selects: James Madison Dukes

Reasoning: If we are going to be called the Revolutionary Conference, we need to include the school named after one of the Founding Fathers. It also helps that they have been one of the best FCS teams and deserve the jump to the FBS.

45. The Way Out West Conference (Jared Kalmus) selects: UNLV Rebels

Reasoning: UNLV sits within the geographic range of my conference and offers truly impressive facilities and one of the best travel destinations in the world. The Rebels are breaking ground on an awesome new football facility and do not have any professional sports teams to compete with for revenue. I like the potential here.

Round 10

46. The Way Out West Conference (Jared Kalmus) selects: Texas State Bobcats

Reasoning: Texas State has fallen on hard times recently but I’m still a believer in their long-term potential. The Bobcats are up to par in the facilities arms race and enter the conference with a heated built-in rivalry with UTSA. Adding Texas State keeps travel costs in my conference low and adds another prized TV market in the greater Austin metropolitan area.

47. The Revolutionary Conference (Joe Serpico) selects: Western Michigan Broncos

Reasoning: Some made comments when I chose CMU over Western, but since we like rivalries in this conference, let's add Western as well.

48. The Southern Coast Conference (Tanner Spearman) selects: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

Reasoning: The Chanticleers give Charlotte a travel partner and bring in a national championship baseball program. As for football, although they haven’t yet played a game as an FBS team, they made several straight trips to the FCS playoffs with two recent trips to the quarterfinals where it took eventual champ NDSU to knock them out.

49. The Big Least Conference (AJ Grande) selects: Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks

Reasoning: Okay, I know ULM has hit hard times of late, but ULM is a school that has been around for a while and deserves a chance. It is in a state full of talent and with the right coaching and recruiting, can make a strong comeback. Look at the 2012 team that played toe-to-toe with P5 teams the first three games of the season.

50. The Mid- South Athletic Conference (Aikman Chamber) selects: Eastern Michigan Eagles

Reasoning: This was kind of a tough process for me this late in the draft. This was a pick that was more so of a geography pick to fit in with Toledo and NDSU.

Round 11

51. The Mid- South Athletic Conference (Aikman Chamber) selects: SMU Mustangs

Reasoning: Why not have a Texas team in the MSAC. SMU has a mixed history of good and bad but grabbing the Dallas/Fort Worth TV and radio market is a big plus.

52. The Big Least Conference (AJ Grande) selects: Jacksonville State Gamecocks

Reasoning: Often forgotten, Jacksonville State is a scary good team that deserves to move up into FBS. OVC has proven to a great stepping stone for teams to reach the next level and JSU has won the conference title three years in a row without losing a conference game. Outside of football, JSU boasts a promising basketball team who just earned their first NCAA tournament berth.

53. The Southern Coast Conference (Tanner Spearman) selects: Sam Houston State Bearkats

Reasoning: After expanding from the original footprint of the SCC, let’s go back to where it all started and call up Sam Houston State. The Bearkats have made it to the FCS quarter or semifinals the past three years, and made back-to-back championship game appearances in 2011 and 2012. They haven’t missed the playoffs since 2010. They’ve proven themselves as a top-tier FCS team and will make a fine addition to the SCC as an FBS program.

54. The Revolutionary Conference (Joe Serpico) selects: Ohio Bobcats

Reasoning: Ohio is my final pick for the West Division that features many of the top teams from the MAC. They bring quality and the move keeps many of the former rivalries in tact.

The Way Out West Conference (Jared Kalmus) selects: Nevada Wolfpack

Reasoning: I wanted to close out my conference by making the western division more compact so Nevada was a great fit. The Wolfpack have a strong history in college football and are another quality basketball program.

Round 12

56. The Way Out West Conference (Jared Kalmus) selects: Utah State Aggies

Reasoning: Much of the same reasoning for Nevada can also be applied to USU. They round out a very balanced conference with two clearly-defined division and are also highly competitive in both revenue sports. Having a stadium with one of the most beautiful backdrops in college sports certainly doesn’t hurt them at all. I really wanted to grab Montana with this last pick to ended up siding with USU thanks to their brand and basketball tradition. Let me know if you guys would have made the same decision or not.

57. The Revolutionary Conference (Joe Serpico) selects: Buffalo Bulls

Reasoning: With one more pick needed to finish out the East Division, I opted for Buffalo based on geography and history in the MAC. I honestly couldn’t find another team that would fit in here, but feel free to tell me otherwise.

58. The Southern Coast Conference (Tanner Spearman) selects: Rice Owls

Reasoning: For my final pick, I’ll remain true to where I started once again. My first and final picks are crosstown rivals that will be reunited within the SCC. Although they’ve struggled the past couple of years, the Rice Owls have enough history to make a fine addition. They’ve got a great winning tradition in baseball and are making strides in basketball. It’s a shame they’ve dropped this far, but I’ll call this a late round steal that seals up the Southern Coast Conference nicely.

59. The Big Least Conference (AJ Grande) selects: Chattanooga Mocs

Reasoning: Though there were other current G5 schools I could have chosen in this slot, Chattanooga fit too well into my conference dynamic. Their football team has done pretty well in the Southern Conference and has made multiple FCS Playoff appearances in the past few years. Also, much like JSU, Chatt has had success with their basketball teams as well and would bring a great market to the BLC.

60. The Mid- South Athletic Conference (Aikman Chamber) selects: South Dakota State Jackrabbits

Reasoning: With the last pick of this realignment draft I decided to bring up another FCS team that has had success. That’s why I chose the South Dakota St Jackrabbits. Geography fits my northern division perfectly, pairing them with NDSU and Wyoming. MSAC can be dubbed the “Land of Opportunity.”

Conference layout

Aikman (Mid-South Athletic Conference)

North - Eastern Michigan, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Temple, Toledo, Wyoming

South - Appalachian State, East Carolina, Louisiana-Lafayette, Old Dominion, SMU, Troy,

AJ (Big Least Conference)

North - Arkansas State, Chattanooga, Miami (Ohio), Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky, Youngstown St

South - FAU, Georgia Southern, Jacksonville State, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, USF

Jared (Way Out West Conference)

East - Colorado State, New Mexico, North Texas, UTEP, UTSA, Texas State,

West - Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada, San Diego State, UNLV, Utah State

Joe (Revolutionary Conference)

East - Army, Buffalo, Navy James Madison, UConn, UMass,

West - Cincinnati, Central Michigan, Northern Illinois, Marshall, Ohio, Western Michigan,

Tanner (Southern Coast Conference)

East - Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, Memphis, Southern Miss, UCF, UAB,

West - Air Force, Houston, Louisiana Tech, Rice, Sam Houston State, Tulsa,

Number of Teams Drafted Per Conference

AAC: 11

C-USA: 13

MAC: 8

MWC: 10

Sun Belt: 9

Independents: 2

FCS: 7

  • The AAC was the fastest conference off the board. No surprise there as they are widely seen as the best G5 conference.
  • Jared mentioned this before, but it would be interesting to see the results had Hustle Belt or Mountain West Connection done this draft. We all have built-in biases and it reflects in how many teams from the MAC were left out in favor of FCS teams and teams primarily located in the south.
  • The top-tier teams in the FCS aren’t that far apart from the Sun Belt according to this exercise.

Current FBS teams that didn’t make the cut

American: Tulane


MAC: Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Kent State

MWC: Hawaii, San Jose State,

Sun Belt: Georgia State, Idaho, New Mexico State

  • Not surprised that Tulane was the only member of the AAC to not be drafted. They haven’t made any noteworthy grounds on the hardwood or the gridiron as an AAC member. They weren’t really great in those sports before joining the AAC either. How did they get in arguably the best G5 conference again?
  • FIU not getting selected is a bit surprising. I’d think in real life FIU and FAU would be a package deal to a conference.
  • Bowling Green not getting selected is crazy. The Mid-South Atlantic Conference doesn’t stack up well compared to the others and choosing Eastern Michigan instead of Bowling Green is a reason why. Come on Aikman!
  • Other than Bowling Green and maybe FIU and Georgia State, I don’t think any of these teams would have been selected had this scenario taken place in real life.
  • Some believe that the FBS status has been watered down over the past few years. While I’m not for demoting teams just for the sake of, I agree that the FBS-Division 1 cache is not the same as it once was. The cost of competing in the FBS is a lot different than it once was. Putting biases and fan interest aside, would you bat an eye if G5 conferences had to be capped at 12, forcing a few G5 teams to go down a level?

Final thoughts

  • I think Tanner’s Southern Coast Conference and Jared’s Way Out West Conference are tied for the best conference.
  • The best division is WOWC West division. San Diego State and Boise State are two of the best five G5 programs at the moment.
  • Joe’s Revolutionary Conference is intriguing as it would provide a great amount of upside for teams like UConn and UMass. It definitely has a blue collar feel to it with Marshall, Cincinnati and the academies in there too. This would be my favorite conference to watch develop to see if a few teams could elevate their standing in the G5.
  • AJ’s Big Least Conference is a bit slanted in power. The North division is pretty even but the South division isn’t as it would probably be dominated by USF on a yearly basis.
  • This was an extremely fun exercise. Had this been actually real life the tension for this thing would have been insane as the backdoor politicking would have been nuts.
  • Many of you really cared about where and when your school was picked but at the end of the day the only thing that really matters is that your school was picked. For the others well, fortunately this was just for fun.