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Conference USA: Gateway to Bigger, Better College Football

Conference USA
© Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

No conference has had a more drastic facelift than Conference USA (CUSA). Since the inaugural season back in 1995, the conference has made many changes. It also has seen colleges that needed a start in a conference or coming up from previously being an FCS team go bigger and better. 

In ongoing changes that have been a part of college athletics over the past couple of years, football is at the forefront. This has happened due to TV contracts, sponsorship deals and bigger revenue for the universities. In smaller conferences, no one has seen bigger changes than CUSA.

Conference USA Totals 10 Universities

The universities representing CUSA include Florida International, Jacksonville State, Liberty, Louisiana Tech, Kennesaw State, Middle Tennessee State, New Mexico State, Sam Houston State, Texas-El Paso (UTEP) and Western Kentucky. Two other universities, Delaware and Missouri State, will join in a year. They are jumping from the FCS to FBS, just as Kennesaw State is doing this year.

Conference USA
© Benjamin Chambers/Delaware News Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK

In 2025, six teams will have switched to the FBS level by joining CUSA. This means that CUSA has become nothing more than a glorified launching pad. It has become the proverbial minor-league system of college football for schools looking for better TV deals from other conferences.

Conference USA
© Nathan Papes/Springfield News-Leader/USA TODAY NETWORK

The conference is a far cry from its inaugural CUSA season in 1995. At that time, CUSA was made up of Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis, Southern Mississippi, Houston and Tulane. Since 1995. most of those schools made appearances in New Year's Day six bowl games. Unfortunately. they were members of the American Athletic Conference (AAC) at the time.

Throughout the years, things have changed drastically in CUSA. According to Sickos Committee, a popular CUSA X fan page, the conference has seen 22.5 percent of all FBS schools at one point in time as a member of their conference. The hope is that the 10-member schools this upcoming season (and the two coming in 2025) will be members for years to come. CUSA needs to establish continuity and historical rivalries in their conference. They also need big TV revenue base that the Power Five conferences have as well.


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