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Yet another conference is reportedly looking into expansion

The Sun Belt has joined the AAC in eying expansion as the league is considering the idea of adding up to four schools

Southern Mississippi quarterback Jake Lange during an NCAA college football game against Rice.
Southern Mississippi quarterback Jake Lange (24) during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Rice Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in Houston, Texas.
Michael Wyke, Associated Press

Another day, another report of conference realignment.

Following reports Monday that the American Athletic Conference is eying six Conference USA schools to replace departing Cincinnati, Houston and UCF, another conference has reportedly begun to entertain expansion as well.

Per multiple reports, first reported by the Athletic’s Chris Vannini, the Sun Belt Conference is considering adding four teams to its current collection of 10 schools. The targeted schools are:

  • Southern Mississippi
  • Marshall
  • Old Dominion
  • James Madison

Southern Miss, Marshall and Old Dominion all currently call Conference USA home, while James Madison plays in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).

A 14-team Sun Belt Conference would consist of:

  • Coastal Carolina
  • Troy
  • Appalachian State
  • Georgia State
  • Georgia Southern
  • Louisiana
  • Texas State
  • South Alabama
  • ULM (Louisiana Monroe)
  • Arkansas State
  • Southern Mississippi
  • Marshall
  • Old Dominion
  • James Madison

If the Golden Eagles, Thundering Herd and Monarchs were to leave Conference USA, as well as the six schools that are expected to join the AAC, the current 14-team Conference USA would dwindle to a mere five teams:

  • FIU (Florida International)
  • Western Kentucky
  • Middle Tennessee
  • UTEP
  • Louisiana Tech

As a result, and as reported by Yahoo Sports Pete Thamel, Conference USA is expected to attempt to stave off Sun Belt expansion by exploring the additions of current independent Liberty, as well as James Madison.

“If Conference USA’s outreach to JMU and Liberty is successful, that’d be a key stabilizing factor for Marshall to stay,” Thamel wrote on Twitter. “ODU has been bullish on building C-USA’s eastern front. Lot of moving parts and ambiguity here.”

Southern Miss and Marshall both have a history of strong competition at the FBS level, while James Madison is an FCS powerhouse that recently won a national championship in 2016. Old Dominion formerly competed in the CAA alongside James Madison but transitioned to FBS in 2012 and joined Conference USA in 2014.