Conference USA to be split evenly into seven-team divisions

IRVING, Texas — The six new schools in Conference USA will be split evenly among the two divisions next football season.

Conference USA, which is expanding to 14 members even with four leaving for the Big East in 2013, announced its football schedule and new division alignments Wednesday.

League newcomers Louisiana Tech, North Texas and Texas-San Antonio will be in the West with returning teams Tulsa, Rice, UTEP and Tulane.

Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic, who will depart the Sun Belt early to join C-USA next season, will be with newcomer FIU in the East along with returnees East Carolina, Marshall, UAB and Southern Miss. SMU, Houston, UCF and Memphis are leaving.

Each team will play eight conference games, including two teams from the opposite division.

2013 Louisiana Tech schedule

(All dates subject to change)

Aug. 31 at North Carolina State

Sept. 7 Lamar

Sept. 14 Tulane

Sept. 21 at Kansas

Sept. 28 vs. Army (Dallas)

Oct. 5 at UTEP

Oct. 19 North Texas

Oct. 26 at Florida International

Nov. 9 Southern Miss

Nov. 16 at Rice

Nov. 23 Tulsa

Nov. 30 at UTSA

Vanderbilt

FRANKLIN APOLOGIZES TO SABAN: Vanderbilt coach James Franklin apologized to Alabama coach Nick Saban for calling him “Nicky Satan” at a high school banquet in Georgia.

School spokesman Larry Leathers confirmed Franklin called Saban on Wednesday afternoon to apologize.

The Vanderbilt coach spoke Monday night at the fall sports banquet for Central High in Macon, Ga., where linebacker Nigel Bowden is one of his top commitments. According to videotape from WMAZ-TV, Franklin said, “There’s this guy in Alabama. I think his name is Nicky Satan. You guys have probably heard of him before. I’m going to outwork him. I’m going to outwork him. And that’s kind of our plan every single day.”

Franklin told The Tennessean his comment was meant strictly as a joke about a coach who has won four national championships.

Virginia

Virginia hires Fairchild as offensive coordinator: In Charlottesville, Va., Virginia hired former Colorado State coach Steve fairchild to be its offensive coordinator.

Fairchild replaces Bill Lazor, who resigned earlier this week to take a job on Chip Kelly’s staff with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Fairchild, a Colorado State graduate, coached the Rams from 2008-2011. He was 16-33 in his first stint as a head coach after a long career as an assistant.

Before that he had spent two seasons as offensive coordinator with the Buffalo Bills. After being fired by CSU, he returned to the NFL last year to work as an offensive assistant with the San Diego Chargers.