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Report: Conference USA adding independents, FCS schools to remain alive

This conference would be a far-flung collection of schools with little in common, but it'd be an FBS conference.

Rumors of Conference USA's demise have been greatly exaggerated, or at least premature.

Down to just three members from its current 14, the conference will reportedly trudge on as a 7-team conference by adding Liberty, Jacksonville State, New Mexico State and Sam Houston to the conference. The deal is not complete yet but, as always in college sports, it's we'd be at this point if it wasn't likely to happen.

New Mexico State has been an FBS independent since 2018, when its football-only membership was not renewed by the Sun Belt. (Idaho, also shown the door at that time, joined the Big Sky as a full-time member.)

Liberty has also been an FBS independent since 2018, and the school has been open about its desire to join a league -- though certainly the Flames had grander designs than this. The school recently joined the Atlantic Sun in Olympic sports. So long as the program manages to keep Hugh Freeze, Liberty will be an instant favorite the moment it joins the league; the 2020 team appeared in the AP Top 25 for the first time ever, and the 2021 group sits at 7-2 heading into a visit to No. 16 Ole Miss (noon ET, ESPN).

Jacksonville State and Sam Houston are both upwardly mobile FCS members. 

Both programs are centerpieces of newly-formed FCS leagues. Along with Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky and Austin Peay, Jacksonville State joined the Atlantic Sun earlier this year with designs on launching as a top-tier football league.

Likewise, defending national champion Sam Houston joined forces with Stephen F. Austin, Lamar, Utah Tech (formerly Dixie State) and Tarleton State to revive the WAC as a football conference. 

Those four would add to the Existing Three -- Florida International, Louisiana Tech and UTEP -- to keep Conference USA as a viable FBS conference, though it's believed that C-USA will continue pursuing additional members beyond these four.

Stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.