College Football Realignment: Could More Teams Join UMass in the MAC?

    The MAC added UMass for 2025, but will having an odd number of teams lead the conference into another round of college football realignment?

    UMass and the Mid-American Conference made headlines this week as the Minutemen are joining the conference in 2025. It will be the second run for the UMass football team, as they were in the MAC from 2012 through 2015.

    With the conference uneven with 13, could further college football realignment see the MAC bring in more schools?

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    Could MAC Expansion Be the Next Major Move in College Football Realignment?

    Back in 2012, the MAC added UMass for football, and the conference was at 13 teams, with the Minutemen joining the East Division. The conference didn’t bring in another school to even the number out through the four years UMass was in the conference.

    After the program departed, nothing more was done about the conference, with the MAC sticking to 12 teams until this week.

    It has become a topic of discussion in college football regarding whether the conference should look to add one more team.

    One name commonly mentioned is the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, with multiple outlets making spirited cases for the program to depart CUSA in the next round of college football realignment.

    Arguments favoring Western Kentucky have been that they have produced 10 NFL Draft selections and consistently play in front of over 20,000 fans a game. They are proven winners and could help add talent to the conference. Geographic relevance is also a major factor behind the case for the Hilltoppers.

    While Western Kentucky is a popular name associated with the MAC in a potential round of college football realignment, there’s an additional level of intrigue at play. Does the conference want to return to an even number of teams, or is there a larger plan afoot.

    After abolishing divisions for the 2024 campaign, the MAC will have to rethink their scheduling format for 2025 onwards. The conference moved to a three-pod system, with four teams in each pod, designed to protect the biggest rivalries in the conference.

    The addition of UMass complicates matters as the pods are no longer even. Further additions present other alternative problems.

    The MAC must decide whether to add just one team and make divisions again, or add two more schools to even out the three pods. If another school or two can’t be found in a certain timeframe, the conference could leave it at 13 and make it work, but that would make life tougher from a scheduling perspective.

    Another school that could be considered is the UConn Huskies. This might be problematic because UConn plays in bigger name conferences than the MAC for other sports.

    KEEP READING: 2024 College Football Realignment

    Currently independent in football, they could opt to join the conference on a football-only basis. The Huskies and the Fighting Irish are the only FBS Independents remaining in college football.

    The situation with the MAC and college football realignment is something to monitor over the next few months. Whether it remains at 13 or expands to 14 or 15 remains to be seen, but the conference appears to be in good shape in the future with a chance to be even stronger in 2025 and beyond.

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