It amazes me how the topic of conference expansion is so intriguing, and yet all the actual talking about it seems to be so boring.
Who holds the cards?
Who will land Texas?
Who will be left standing in the Big East and Big 12?
Blowing smoke about the backroom negotiations among powerbrokers has surpassed steroids, the LeBron Watch and the USC investigation in terms of tedium. We’ve hit the saturation point for expansion speculation.
So, until one of the prime movers officially declares primae noctis, Blatant Homerism is declaring a moratorium on conference expansion talk.
For we’ve hit the true inflection point in the conference consolidation movement:
- Missouri already appears to be as good as gone to the Big Ten;
- Nebraska’s dalliance with the Cadillac of college football conferences may have frayed enough nerves within the conference that the Cornhuskers won’t be far behind Mizzou;
- the Pac-10 is angling to subsume six of the 10 teams that would remain in the Big 12 should NU and Missouri bolt.
If the Pac-10 expands to 16 teams, can you honestly see any of the other major conferences not following suit? Yeah, me neither.
The reality is that we’re facing a major restructuring in college football that the purists are going to despise. On the other hand, if you crave a playoff and hate the NCAA, you might be in luck.
I present to you, “College Football: 2015.”
What Was The Pac-10
West: Washington, Washington St., Stanford, Cal, Oregon, Oregon St., USC, UCLA
East: Arizona, Arizona St., Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Colorado
As hard as the Big Ten may be pushing for Texas, this is the right play for the Longhorns. As I’ve mentioned before, the demographics are working against the Midwest, making the Big Ten less appealing in the long term than many seem to think. On the other hand, put Texas and the other Lone Star State schools in a conference with the Arizona and California institutions, and you’ve got a host of large — and, most importantly, growing — TV markets locked down.
What Was The Big Ten
West: Iowa, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri, Purdue, Minnesota
East: Michigan, Michigan St., Penn St., Ohio St., Indiana, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Pittsburgh
Presumably, Notre Dame will see the writing on the wall and catch up to the 20th century. And, yes, I realize that’s asking a lot.
What Was The ACC
North: Boston College, Syracuse, West Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Virginia, Virginia Tech
South: Louisville, North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, North Carolina St., Miami, South Florida, Georgia Tech
The ACC has pillaged the Big East before, so why not again? Too bad this time, because this will really water down arguably the best basketball conference in the country.
What Was The SEC
East: Florida, Florida St., South Carolina, Clemson, Georgia, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kentucky
West: Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi St., Kansas, Arkansas, Kansas St.
I doubt Kansas gets left out in the cold in all of this. The Jayhawks provide too much of a brand name in basketball to not be picked up. K-State is a stretch, but, much like Texas Tech and UT, politics may have the Jayhawks and Wildcats joined at the hip.
Do I think the deck chairs will fall together in exactly this order? No. As a rough outline, though, it looks pretty reasonable: four conferences, 16 teams, two divisions per conference.
For everyone pushing for a playoff, the realignment screams for an eight-team tournament. The two division winners in each conference would play a championship game in early December. Then the four winners match up in semifinal games, leading up to the national championship.
Hell, you could even incorporate the bowls by setting up a rotation of sites to host the seven playoff games, a la the NCAA basketball tournament.
So, there it is in a nice, neat package. Progress? I bet we’ll find out sooner than later.