Some programs in IAA ball are about to move up to the "big time" in college ball. Does this make sense? In some cases and for some schools perhaps so. Other programs should perhaps stay where they are. Let's explore this briefly.
Texas State (San Marcos) is poised to move out of the ranks of IAA and move into whatever is left of the WAC. They have hired (unfortunately for them) Dennis Franchione to guide their team during this transition. Does it make sense for the Bobcat program to move out of the IAA Southland Conference into the WAC? I would think not frankly. This, their last year in IAA, will prove again that this school has trouble fielding a team that even can compete in the mediocre IAA Southland. The hiring of Franchione will only damage their progress as they move into D1.
UTSA is about to field a football team and will take it into D1 next year. Is this a good move? I would think that playing in the D2 Lone Star Conference or the IAA Southland would be a better move than a jump into the D1 WAC. Perhaps they ought to emulate Lamar which has recently resurrected football and is now a full member of the Southland. They (UTSA) have hired Larry Coker as HC to get things going and that, at least, is a smart move.
It may actually make some sense for South Alabama to move into the D1 Sun Belt. The program could have taken a look at two (or three) IAA conferences to affiliate with but a move into D1 might be a good move on their part. The teams in the Sun Belt are, for the most part, a good geographical match and the league has made great strides in being taken seriously as a D1 conference. The schools' surprise the "big boys" at times and some big time programs probably are starting to rethink the wisdom of scheduling a Troy or Florida International for their Homecoming "sure win." Who can forget the ULM beat down of the Crimson Tide just a few years back? It just might make sense for South Alabama to make the move into the Sun Belt.
It is also being reported that UMASS will transition into the MAC soon. Now the MAC does indeed need another program to make the two divisions equal. One has six and the other division seven, but it does not make much sense for UMASS to be the evener. The Minutemen play in one of the elite conferences of the IAA ranks and usually put a pretty competitive team on the field. The good East Coast IAA squads (and there are a bunch) are often on just about the same talent level as a middle tier ACC or Big East team. Why the move into the MAC for UMASS? It makes little sense. Why not focus on working toward the IAA Championship instead of going to some "bowl" game that the MAC is involved with. Unless it is the contest the MAC Champion plays in, then it will be a "bowl game" no one watches. It is much more prestigious to be the IAA Champion than to play in a third tier "bowl game."
Some of the elite (and not so elite) schools in IAA football perhaps need to think very carefully before trying to transition to D1. Are the rewards really worth it in the long run? In most cases I would think not.