2023 will mark the first season in Conference USA for the Liberty Flames as well as Sam Houston State, Jacksonville State, and New Mexico State. Kennesaw State will make the jump in 2024.
These additions significantly change the dynamic of the league, which now stands at nine teams after the departure of six teams for the American Athletic Conference, including the teams that won the three programs that won the last six league titles.
In our most recent SB Nation Reacts survey, our readers indicated that the two most likely candidates in next season’s league title race would be Liberty and Western Kentucky.
Let’s Think About This
It makes sense. Through their first five seasons in FBS, the Flames have yet to experience a losing season, with three bowl wins in four appearances. Former Coastal Carolina head coach Jamey Chadwell could experience a learning curve in his first season with the program as they adopt his way of doing things. Chadwell was 8-16 in his first two seasons at the helm with CCU. However, Chadwell was 31-6 in the last three years with the Chants.
Liberty has also made it clear that investment in football, and athletics in general, is a huge priority for the school. The Flames have the largest athletics budget in the conference and it’s not particularly close.
Not to mention, Liberty have a significantly easier travel schedule than they could have given the geographical setup of the league, save for a regular season finale at UTEP.
Cash and investment obviously helps, but it’s not a money fight out there. Either way, the first year of the new-look league should be exciting.