With the news coming out of Alabama about the shutdown of the UAB football program, it’s obvious this will have a far reaching impact across Division I athletics. Liberty’s not excluded. Here’s how the news could impact the Flames:
1. Conference USA & realignment
Logical candidates to replace UAB in C-USA: Liberty, James Madison, Georgia State, South Alabama, Texas State, Arkansas State, ULL
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) November 30, 2014
The most obvious is it opens up a spot for a team to move into UAB’s vacated Conference USA spot. Liberty is certainly on the short list of candidates to replace the Blazers.
If Liberty doesn’t get the call from CUSA, it’s likely a team from the Sun Belt will get the nod. That would leave the Sun Belt at 10 members. Maybe it would push their presidents and administrators over into the camp of wanting to go to 12.
3. Future ramifications among the have/have-nots
As the divide between the power 5 and the rest of college athletics continues to widen, it’s likely other schools and their football programs will go the route of UAB’s. See this article on Georgia State.
4. Scheduling possibilities
UAB has filled out their schedule for the next couple years meaning several teams will be looking to fill a hole. Perhaps Liberty could schedule one. The Blazers had games scheduled in 2015 with Tennessee, Georgia State, South Alabama, and Troy. They also had games scheduled in 2016 with Kentucky, Georgia State, South Alabama, and Troy. We know Jeff Barber’s affection with playing Sun Belt teams on the gridiron, perhaps a showdown with South Alabama or Troy could be on the horizon for 2016.
There will be a feeding frenzy among the 85 scholarship players UAB had that no longer have a football home, most of whom are from Alabama. Maybe the Flames from Alabama have some connections (Darrin Peterson, Austin Kaigler, Canon Smith).