The American Athletic Conference will welcome six new members for the 2023 football season. Those members are UTSA, North Texas, Rice, Florida Atlantic, UAB, and Charlotte. Given Brett McMurphy’s reports on Tuesday night, another spot may open up soon.
Regardless of who it may be, Underdog Dynasty’s readers are practically split down the middle in debating whether or not a newcomer will win the league title in 2023. 47% of voters in a recent SB Nation Reacts poll that we posted said that a newcomer would win the league in 2023.
Keep in mind that the AAC will also lose UCF, Houston, and Cincinnati to the Big 12 at the same moment that they’re gaining these new teams. In the ten seasons that the AAC has existed, one of those departing programs has won the title or a share of it seven times.
So, who’s it going to be?
UTSA - After winning the Conference USA title each of the last two seasons, the Roadrunners certainly sound like a legit contender. Under head coach Jeff Traylor, they finished the season just outside the AP and Coaches Poll Top 25 after losing the Cure Bowl to Troy. In 2023, they will return with most of an offense that was the top scoring unit in C-USA in 2023. That includes reigning C-USA MVP Frank Harris.
North Texas - While North Texas made the C-USA title game twice in the last six seasons, their results have been a mixed bag in the last decade. 2022 was, overall, a strong year for the Mean Green, but Seth Littrell was relieved of his duties as head coach by the new athletic administration. Former Incarnate Word head coach and Washington State offensive coordinator Eric Morris will take over that role in 2023. Morris is one of three incoming AAC coaches who have never been a head coach at the FBS level before.
UAB - The Blazers will have quite a bit to prove in 2023. Longtime NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer was named the program’s head coach at the tail end of the season, and snubbed interim head coach Bryant Vincent moved on to the OC role at New Mexico. This will be Dilfer’s first coaching role in FBS. The Blazer program has had an eventful past decade that included two C-USA league titles in 2018 and 2020 and three consecutive trips to the C-USA title game in that time. Entering this season, much of the talent that helped them accomplish those feats have moved on through graduation or the transfer portal.
Florida Atlantic - Stop me if you’ve heard this one: another program entering the AAC with a head coach in their first year at the helm. The beachside Owls have a name that most CFB fans will recognize, however. Former Houston and Texas leader Tom Herman dons the headset eight years after coaching Houston to the league title in 2015. FAU are obviously in the middle of one of the country’s most fertile recruiting grounds, but that wasn’t enough for Willie Taggart to get past five wins each of the last three years.
Rice - Entering Mike Bloomgren’s sixth year as the head coach of the Rice program, the Owls have been slowly improving, resulting in five wins last season and bowl berth due to their excellent academic progress rate. Can one of the south’s premier academic institutions return to football excellence? It’s a bit of a long shot this year, but journeyman quarterback JT Daniels could certainly help things.
Charlotte - Another long shot, in the short term. Charlotte joined the FBS ranks in 2015 with just one winning season since. Biff Poggi was hired in November to be program’s next head coach after multiple decades as a high school head coach in Maryland, plus a few years as an assistant and associate head coach at Michigan.