For our final edition of ‘Where Were They Then?’ we go back to 1995. Alternative rock was all the rage on the radio, the Playstation was about to take the video game world by storm, and the Big 12 did not exist (neither did Conference USA, the Mountain West, or the Sun Belt for that matter). It’s hard to believe 1995 was nearly two decades ago and a lot has changed since then. Where were the current crop of college football teams playing in 1995? Once again, we start with the Power 5 (P5) conferences.
Atlantic Coast Conference
Big 10 Conference
1993). The three Big 10 newbies were playing in the ACC (Maryland), Big East (Rutgers) and Big 8 (Nebraska) in 1995.
Big 12 Conference
1995 (Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State). Forty percent of the conference was closing out the Southwest Conference (Baylor, Texas, TCU, and Texas Tech). TCU would be a bit of a college football nomad, bouncing around a few mid-major leagues before finally rejoining their old in-state mates in 2012. Finally, West Virginia, under Don Nehlen, was a member of the Big East in 1995.
Now we can turn our attention to the Group of 5 (G5) conferences. Where were their members in 1995?
American Athletic Conference
Charlotte joins next season. Two members were Independent in 1995 (North Texas and Southern Miss), and three conferences shared the distinction of producing one future Conference USA member apiece (Big West – Louisiana Tech, Southwest Conference – Rice, and the WAC – UTEP).
Big West (Northern Illinois). Obviously, that was a very liberal interpretation of the word ‘west’.
Mountain West Conference
1996), but were Big West members in 1995 (Nevada, San Jose State, UNLV, and Utah State). As hard as it may be to believe, Boise State was not playing IA football in 1995.
Sun Belt Conference
And finally, the let’s look at the Independents.
open relationship with the ACC). BYU was a WAC member in 1995.
One thing I noticed when making these charts is the number of teams that have either moved up to IA football or started football teams from scratch in the last twenty years. By my calculations, there have been 21 teams that have joined the ranks since 1995. In 1995, there were 108 IA teams. Now there are 128 (Pacific dropped football after 1995 if you were wondering why 108 + 21 = 128). That means there are more than 18% more teams playing IA football now than there were in 1995. Some have been successful (Boise State and UCF), others not so much (Massachusetts), and the jury is still out on many (Appalachian State and Georgia Southern to name two). Will more teams continue to make the jump over the next two decades or has the bubble effectively burst with the autonomy the P5 conferences have gained (remember no new IA program is in a P5 conference since Connecticut and South Florida were demoted from the Big East)? I won’t pretend to read the tea leaves in regards to this area, but I know that whatever the future holds for conference realignment, expect the unexpected.