The Southern Conference, more commonly known as the SoCon, will add Virginia Military Institute (VMI), East Tennessee State and Mercer to its ranks in time for the 2014 football season. East Tennessee State and Mercer have formally accepted the league's invitations, and VMI is expected to do the same on Friday.
“The addition of these three institutions will solidify the Southern Conference and ensure our position as a vibrant league with a bright future,” commissioner John Iamarino said in the SoCon's official statement. “We are delighted to invite three quality institutions, two of which are returning to a home they previously enjoyed for many years."
The Keydets, Bucs and Bears will join a remaining SoCon roster of Wofford, The Citadel, Samford, Chattanooga, Furman, Elon and Western Carolina.
VMI comes to the SoCon from the Big South, while East Tennessee State and Mercer will arrive from the Atlantic Sun. Both of the latter schools are in the process of launching their football programs, East Tennessee State will resurrect its program in 2015 after a 12-year absence, while Mercer begins play this fall as a member of the Pioneer Football League after originally dropping the sport in 1941.
The SoCon adds the trio in the latest in a long game of dominoes started years ago at the highest level of FBS. VMI, East Tennessee State and Mercer join the SoCon to replace departing members Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, who are headed to the Sun Belt to help mitigate the loss of Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky and North Texas, who are replacing SMU, Houston, Tulane, Memphis, East Carolina, Central Florida and Tulsa in Conference USA, who joined the Big East to fill the void left by Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Louisville and Rutgers, and so on and so forth. Clear as mud, right?
So, what we're saying is, if you're a Keydets, Bucs or Bears fan, make sure you thank a Pittsburgh, Syracuse or Louisville fan today for your good fortune.