Conference USA seeded the Popajohns.com Bowl to the SEC, as the folks in Birmingham felt they could draw better with a Southeastern Conference team like Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, LSU, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vanderbilt or Florida than a C-USA school. UAB of Conference USA is located in Birmingham, and plays home games at Legion Field which is where the Popajohns.com Bowl is also played. Legion Field was a long-time second home for the Crimson Tide, although age has taken a toll on the old stadium.
But Conference USA also gained a full-time relationship with the Texas Bowl, played at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, matching a C-USA team up every year against someone from the Big 12. C-USA has two schools right in Houston, the Cougars of UH and the Rice Owls, and also has teams in Dallas in SMU and in El Paso in UTEP. The Big 12 contains many teams SMU, Rice and Houston played as members of the old Southwest Conference including Baylor, Texas Tech, Texas and Texas A&M, so there is a long-standing rivalries for some of those schools.
The bowl shift will mean Conference USA will continue to play it's champions in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis against the SEC, plus have games in the GMAC Bowl against the Mid-American Conference in Mobile, Alabama, the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl against the Sun Belt Conference champ and the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl against the Mountain West Conference. The Mountain West includes another former SWC member and long-time SMU rival, TCU, which is located in Fort Worth and the Armed Forces Bowl is played in the Horned Frogs' Amon. G. Carter Stadium. C-USA will send a team to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl two times in four years, as East Carolina beat Boise State there in 2007.
Other members of Conference USA, besides UTEP (GMAC Bowl in 2005); SMU (Hawaii Bowl in 1984); Rice (New Orleans Bowl in 2006); and Houston (Texas Bowl last year and 2006 Liberty Bowl) includes Tulsa (2007 GMAC Bowl and 2005 Liberty Bowl); Memphis (home games at the Liberty Bowl; 2007 New Orleans Bowl); Southern Miss (2007 Papajohns.com Bowl, 2006 GMAC Bowl and the New Orleans Bowl in 2004 & 2005); UAB (Hawaii Bowl in 2005); UCF (2007 Liberty Bowl and 2005 Hawaii Bowl); Tulane (Hawaii Bowl in 2002); and Marshall (Armed Forces Bowl in 2004, plus GMAC Bowl in 2001 and 2002).