|Tulsa will defend its 2012 title in a very different C-USA from the one that it just won. (US Presswire)|
With Middle Tennessee and FAU officially skipping their one-year transition from the Sun Belt to Conference USA, we already knew that 2013 was going to represent the newest of new looks for the 8-year-old league, with four members out and six now in. Wednesday, commissioner Britton Banowsky and C-USA announced exactly what that new look would be.
|East Carolina||Louisiana Tech|
C-USA will play the 2013 football season with two seven-team divisions once again named East and West. The East will consist of East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Southern Miss and UAB, while the West Division will be Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Tulane, Tulsa, UTEP and UT-San Antonio.
Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF are off to the Big East this coming season, with FIU, FAU, Middle Tennessee and North Texas joining C-USA from the Sun Belt, Louisiana Tech and UTSA joining from the now-defunct WAC and the other eight schools held over from 2012. In 2014, Tulane will also leave the conference for the Big East but will be replaced by incoming FCS-to-FBS transition program Old Dominion.
The league will play its 2013 schedule with eight conference games, each school playing the other six division members and two cross-divisional games that rotate each season. The conference issued a complete list of its cross-divisional matchups and 2013 home-and-away pairings; the highest-profile cross-division game appears to be a matchup between 2012 conference champion Tulsa and divisional runner-up and New Orleans Bowl representative East Carolina.
Not surprisingly, Banowsky was bullish on his conference's future despite the upheaval and loss of several of its biggest-market (and highest-profile) programs.
"We had extremely productive meetings, and we are fortunate to have such a great group," he said. "Our new members bring added competitive strength, especially in the areas of football and basketball, and we have dramatically increased the size of our television footprint. Our conference generally represents growing institutions, in large markets, who are ambitious and have made significant investments ... We have tremendous upside potential."
That remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: The future of the C-USA won't look much like its past.