There seems to be a "4-tier system" of conferences in the FBS: ACC > AAC > CUSA > Sun Belt (except for Idaho and New Mexico St - 2014 additions - who would never be considered by the other 3 conferences unless CUSA was desperate)
All 3 are unstable. The remaining members of those conferences from a couple years ago for this season:
AAC (Big East): Cincinnati, Rutgers (leaving for B1G), South Florida, Connecticut, and Louisville (leaving for ACC)
CUSA: UTEP, Rice, Tulsa (leaving for AAC), Tulane, (leaving for AAC), UAB, Southern Miss, East Carolina (leaving for AAC), and Marshall
Sun Belt: Arkansas St, UL Lafayette, UL Monroe, Western Kentucky (leaving for CUSA), and Troy
Does anyone see a time in the near future of any "merging" of these conferences (eliminating 1 or more)?
With the WAC out of the picture as an D-I FBS conference, I see a time in the near future of any conference merging, etc. And that's within the C-USA/Sun Belt issue. At this moment, I cannot explain my theory yet until I brainstorm a bit. But I do expect that most non-football schools in the FBS level should upgrade football to maintain certain conference membership alive or so. I think that it's not a wise move for the Sun Belt to add Idaho and New Mexico State (as football-only members) because both of them are in the Western U.S., which technically these two should stay, and they could have remained as FBS Independents. Sadly for the both of them, the MW doesn't want any of them. By 2014 (next season), Idaho will leave the WAC to re-join the Big Sky as a non-football all-sports member. I think that New Mexico State should to the same, which is to find a different athletic conference for its other non-football sports, whether re-joining the Big West or joining the WCC. Unless the Aggies would consider full membership status with football, they should plan on joining C-USA or re-joining the Sun Belt full-time.