Sturdy football and being located near a major television market is what most conferences desire in an expansion candidate. Northern Illinois is sound in both those categories, but a poor basketball program could hold the Huskies back. The American Athletic Conference is a decent basketball conference. The American is home to some very historic programs such as Memphis and Houston, and also some up and coming programs like Tulsa and SMU.The Mid-American might be facing existential difficulties, particularly if the three Compass Direction Michigans in the mitten opt out. But rivalries with Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Texas mid-majors? The algorithms will die laughing.
BUBBLE, BUBBLE, MID-AMERICAN TROUBLE.
The Mid-American Conference might be an unlikely place for Northern Illinois to stake its claim to fielding an elite football team. But concurrently with the program prioritization algorithms proposing reduced spending on football (and all the other intercollegiate sports) comes a trial balloon, Northern Illinois in something called the American Athletic Conference.