5 college football teams doomed to have roughest conference realignments in 2024

Bob Drebin/ISI Photos/GettyImages
5 of 6

4. SMU Mustangs (from American to ACC)

SMU becomes the latest mid-major program to take the leap to major-conference status when they join the ACC in 2024. The Mustangs enter their new haunt on a roll, as they come off an 11-win season in Rhett Lashlee's sophomore campaign as the head coach in Dallas. But running the table in the American Athletic Conference is a far different proposition than doing so on a move up to a major conference.

The last three teams to rise from mid-major status to a major league all came from the American. Only one of them reached .500 during its first regular season as a Big 12 member. Cincinnati's move was coupled with a coaching change, as Luke Fickell moved on to the Wisconsin job and Scott Satterfield went 3-9 after crossing over from Louisville. Houston benefitted from the stability of Dana Holgorsen's fifth year at the helm, but the Cougars managed only one more win than Cincinnati. UCF managed to go 6-6 before losing in a minor bowl game.

That UCF example is probably the ceiling for SMU as they adjust to life as a small fish in a big pond for the first time since their Southwest Conference heyday. More likely is a season that resembles those put up by Houston or the Bearcats.