UAB dropped out of football after 2014. However, it changed its mind and will be back in Conference USA in 2017.
At that time, Conference USA will finally have a balanced roster of 14 teams, 7 for each division, with a fun conference championship game at the end to determine the one true champion. Currently that championship game is being played between Western Kentucky and Southern Miss, both quality teams with huge win loss records (10-2 and 9-3). But with a balanced division roster the 2017 season should be even more exciting.
The Sun Belt, meanwhile, will be getting Coastal Carolina, a long time powerhouse in the FCS football league. This will bring the conference up to an even 12 teams and, presumably, a fun championship game of its own with two divisions of six fighting it out. Right now we could have as much as a three-way tie for the Sun Belt Championship at the end of the season, which is incredibly dissatisfying compared to a clear and simple winner who proves their worth on the field. FCS-to-FBS teams are a force to be reckoned with in the Sun Belt, as Georgia Southern and Appalachian State recently rose up from the FCS and then completely dominated the conference starting from their first year in the FBS onwards. Coastal Carolina could be a strong addition to the conference just like those teams were.
This would bring the total number of FBS teams up to 130 in 2017, a much nicer and rounder number than the current 128.
Last year had a lot more teams that were bowl eligible than there were bowl openings. This year there's more bowl openings than there are bowl eligible teams. Both situations can be considered a tragedy. Looking at the 2014 season, it made sense to add new bowl games so the mistake of leaving good bowl teams out in the cold wouldn't happen again. However, this year shows the negative consequences of that decision, with bowl games now playing clear underachievers. Adding two more teams to the FBS division makes it more likely that a proper number of eligible teams will be around to fill in the missing bowl slots moving forward. The decision to increase bowl games was not a bad one, but I would certainly advise against adding any new bowl games in the future, and hopefully starting in 2017 no more losing record teams will have to play in the post season.
So starting in 2017 there will be no more odd-numbered teams in any FBS conferences, and the bowl situation will be sorted out. It would look like all football problems are resolved, but so long as the Big 12 conference erroneously stays at 10 teams (can the Big 12 conference even count?), there's still a seed of chaos in the system. The Big 12 needs to expand by two more teams sooner or later, and that will mean other conferences losing teams and needing to add new teams to make up the difference, unless the Big 12 invites in BYU and Army, the last two independents. (Notre Dame is essentially an ACC team). But no one knows when that time bomb will go off. 2016? 2020? 2050? Who knows. But at some point the Big 12 needs to be 12 teams again, that much is for sure.
Part of what has made this season the best season in college football ever is the crazy plays that have occurred during the regular season (Miami's 8 laterals to defeat Duke anyone?). The additional bowl games that make sure every qualified team gets to enjoy a postseason is another reason. The third reason is the perfect clarity of the 4 team playoff this time around. All years before last year, there weren't enough slots open for all the best teams in college football to have their fair shot at the championship. Last year, TCU and Baylor got left out even though they were better than Florida State which got in. This year, there will be no mistakes. It's very clear who deserves to get in and who deserves to be left out based on the results during the regular season. We're going to have our first uncontroversial championship in college football history. Whoever wins in the end, no one can say someone left out of the championship game would have actually done better.