UAB losing it's football program likely didn't spark much of reaction by everyone among the mid-major ranks but the trimmer in Birmingham today could have a lasting effect all up and down the East Coast and could even mean the end of certain conferences that we know and love. Yes, this may put the X-Files music in your head or sound a little conspiracy theory-like, but hang with me!
Conference USA is going to look to fill their fourteenth seat that UAB will leave open. The conference could look the FCS route and grab a nice in-state rival with James Madison or Liberty. JMU would be the frontrunner just because it's more of a peer institution than that of Liberty, but don't ever underestimate the money that the Flames bring to the table. If those aren't the right options for CUSA then maybe they look back at the Sun Belt and look to steal a school like Georgia State which also brings the Atlanta media market?
Possible Candidates: JMU, Liberty, Georgia State, Troy, South Alabama
Sun Belt Conference
If CUSA does go the FCS route then the Sun Belt likely won't see much action beyond the persistent rumors of maybe grabbing Eastern Kentucky from the Ohio Valley. If the conference does get raided a bit again then maybe they finally let Liberty in who they have shunned for the past few years?
Possible Candidates: Eastern Kentucky, Liberty, North Dakota State (football only)
Ohio Valley Conference
Let's say Eastern Kentucky does bolt the OVC. Would the Cincinnati marker and nice facilities be enough to extend Northern Kentucky an invite? Would maybe the conference look to Belmont's crosstown rival Lipscomb? Or would the conference be solely focused on adding a football member? If NKU or Lipscomb bolted then it would effectively kill the Atlantic Sun because they would have no NCAA Tournament auto-bid.
Possible Candidates: Northern Kentucky, Lipscomb
Colonial Athletic Association
This is where the crazy stuff begins. Let's say that JMU does leave the CAA for Conference USA... Would William & Mary be comfortable as the lone Virginia school after JMU, George Mason, VCU, Richmond, and ODU have all left? I could see the Tribe easily taking their act to the Patriot League with their academic peers. Would Delaware, who seemingly has FBS aspirations of their own suddenly make the move to the likes of the MAC or another conference due to the shaky ground of a nine team conference? Would the CAA then become a northern conference with the likes of Stony Brook and Albany joining as full members? Would that then scare away schools like Charleston and Elon?!?!?! COULD IT BE THE END!
Let's say all these dominoes fall just the right way where the CAA loses a few schools and the ASun is left with below the minimum to have an auto-bid. Could it create the perfect storm for a rebirth of a legend? The CAA could effectively become the old America East 2.0 and there would be some southern schools ripe to be cornerstones floating around. What if there was a sort of Big East revolution in southern hoops that saw the likes of UAB, Davidson, Belmont, Charleston, and Florida Gulf Coast become cornerstones of a new conference. A conference of like-minded schools with a focus mainly on basketball?
It would create a situation where those schools could hand pick 3 to 5 other members and really start to grow something. It's a step beyond my crazy football/basketball split a year ago. The remnants of the ASun could find a home in the suddenly poached Southern Conference and Big South and all would be right with realignment, at least for a day or two.