Conference realignment has been a fun topic to talk about for years, as the college football landscape is ever so rapidly changing.
The last time we had a real conference realignment case on our hands was when in 2016 the Big-12 announced they were open to, and would explore candidates to expand the conference, but ultimately ended up deciding to stand pat at their current 10 team layout they currently are at. So when is the next time we could see a massive shift in college football as far as realignment goes? This ESPN article written by Adam Rittenberg said this about when that could be and he suggests 2023-2034 could be that time.
“It starts with expiring TV contracts. The ACC and SEC both have long-term media grant-of-rights agreements, running through 2025-26 and 2023-24 respectively. But the other three power 5 conferences have agreements ending roughly around the same time. (The SEC’s Tier 1 deal with CBS runs through 2023-24) The Big Ten last summer opted for a shorter agreement with FOX and ESPN, which runs through 2022-23. The PAC-12 deal expires after the 2023-24 sports year, the Big-12’s ends the following year.”– Adam Rittenberg
Cable TV is dying, as other TV viewing platforms like Hulu, YouTube, Amazon, and Google each have streaming services that could become more profitable than even the current deals that conferences already have. That would give the big cable television providers and a big run for their money.
Multiple people have tried their crack at their own personal college football realignment idea, with people doing four 16-team “Super Conferences” and everything in between. Not to toot my own horn, but I believe that what I’m about to propose is the best radical conference realignment idea I’ve seen, & we could see a similar product once the NCAA goes forward with their realignment.
Before we get started, I’d like to say that with the realignment of the college football landscape comes an expansion to the college football playoff. Why? Pretty simple really: more money. It’s inevitably going to happen someday, most likely after the next realignment, with more revenue coming into the NCAA’s pockets and more football for viewers if it were to expand. A perfect win-win situation for all the parties involved.
My realignment proposal is built upon the backbone of the new college football playoff format. My goal in this process was to bring 6 power conferences into the fold with even 12 teams in each conference, and for each conference to be competitive top to bottom to give each conference at least one team to be potentially selected by the playoff committee to be in the 6 team playoff.
With all the minor details out of the way, I welcome you to get comfy, relax, and enjoy a college football realignment idea that actually makes sense this time. Here we go!!!
First of all, I’d like to break down why the four 16 team super conferences wouldn’t work and what conferences and teams are individually looking for when they realign:
If you loosely think about the Super Conference idea it sounds like a fun idea. You get four mega conferences with stacked rosters competing to get into the college football playoff and with the four 16 team conferences, you even could expand to 6 teams still with the committee seeing the best of the best go at it. Teams like Ohio State doesn’t want to split the money or waste their time playing Rutgers each year and would rather at least improve their playoff odds while splitting money against better competition. Keep in mind College Football is all about the money, so it sounds great on paper. Teams like UCLA or USC comes and joins the Big-12, or OU & Texas joins the behemoths in the SEC, but there are a few flaws that make the idea. I wouldn’t say bad, but not as realistic or as good as the one I could propose.
Firsts things first, although everything could be bigger and better (money wise) in these new super conferences, teams will turn their nose up at the notion that they would have to split earnings and revenue with 16 different teams. Even if the new conferences made more money, you’re having to split that increased money in more pots, making say again Ohio State’s earnings relatively the same. And if Ohio State was having success getting into the playoffs with their current conference they’re in, why would they play tougher competition and increase their odds at more regular-season losses for the same amount of money? Again, money makes the world go round, and although some teams could benefit from playing a tougher schedule, the money situation is always going to be the thing that haunts the 16 super conference idea.
With my 12 teams per conference plan, the Big-10, ACC, & SEC drop some dead weight, the PAC-12 improves, and the Big-12 gains two members and improves as a whole as well. So you see? We’ve killed two birds with one stone. Fewer teams to split the money with for the big boy programs, and their respective conferences are now also better from top to bottom, and teams are not wasting their time.
Let’s start off with the PAC-12. Nothing really crazy happens here, as they simply replace Colorado for Boise State who has annually been the best non-power 5 football program for years now, and Is a much better program than that of Colorado, thus improving the conference that much more. The PAC-12 looks like this now: UCLA, USC, Boise State, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, Stanford, and California.
Colorado was once apart of the Big-12 before they left for the PAC-12, but in this scenario, they come crawling back and asking for forgiveness. Another team that ditched the Big-12 for “greener pastures”: The Missouri Tigers. The SEC sheds off its dead weight and allows Missouri to come back home. The Big-12 will “trade” the Big-10 a rivalry game of Iowa State and Iowa and give the Big-10 Iowa State, for the yet again another former Big-12 member of Nebraska. I think the world deserves to see Nebraska playing against Big-12 schools again, and not see the program prestige die in the Big-10. The Big-10 nabs a currently better school and a nice little rivalry game.
The last addition to the Big-12 is the currently independent BYU. What the Catholics are to Notre Dame is what the Mormons are to BYU, as BYU has followed the Notre Dame mold by being an independent that’s backed by the church and an ESPN TV deal. One might argue that it would be hard for BYU & Notre Dame to leave their independent status, but I believe that they will in fear of being left behind. I think they will know the value being in a conference brings them, and they’ll come along. BYU isn’t exactly as good as they were the last time the Big-12 considered them as an option to come into the conference in 2016, but they have a rich tradition and would immediately be one of the bigger brands in the conference and would improve immensely with the backing of a power 5 program behind them.
With three teams coming in, the Big-12 gives the boot to West Virginia, who just doesn’t fit in well geographically with the conference. The Big-12 is starting to feel like the SWC of old with Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU, Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska & BYU. The boys are back in town!!
The only thing the SEC does is shed its dead weight of South Carolina and Missouri. I regret leaving Vanderbilt in the SEC as they’re quite frankly still going to waste Alabama’s time, but I needed to bring along South Carolina to another conference to improve it. The SEC still has Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, LSU, Georgia, & Texas A&M.
The Big-10 is obviously just a brand name at this point as it removes Rutgers and Maryland to bring its current 14 team conference down to 12, and again, sheds down its dead weight. It still has Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Iowa State, Purdue, and Northwestern.
Louisville leaves in hopes for a chance to compete for more conference championships and playoff births in another conference, and the conference sheds off Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Boston College. They then add South Carolina from the SEC, and Maryland from the Big-10. The ACC looks like this: Clemson, North Carolina, South Carolina, Duke, Florida State, Miami, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Georgia Tech, NC State, & Wake Forest.
The Big East:
If you can find a more creative conference name, go for it, but I’m just going to bring back the Big East because I have no ideas on what to call this brand new conference. My goal was to not just give this new conference the leftover scraps but to also be a conference that is respectable from top to bottom.
The new Big East consists of: Notre Dame, Louisville, Rutgers, West Virginia, Boston College, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Temple, Cincinnati, UCF, Army, and Navy. This conference has a big boy in Notre Dame, four former ACC schools, former Big-10 & Big-12 schools in Rutgers & West Virginia, the Army-Navy Rivalry, and two programs from the American conference of UCF and Cincinnati who’s name has been thrown out into the ring as a potential Big-12 expansion team. Both schools have been very solid in both basketball and football, and with a backing of a power 5… or should I say, a Power 6 conference, they should grow and be even more successful.
So, there you have it. You have six conferences with 12 teams a piece in each conference. Each conference has a chance to have at least one school get into my newly expanded 6 team college football playoff, thanks to each conference being pretty solid from top to bottom. And another thing this idea has going for it? Less teams=less shared revenue on new TV deals for these 12 team conferences. As I said, money makes the world go around.
An expanded power conference, an expanded college football playoff system based on the expanded power conferences, more college football which equals more revenue for the NCAA, and fewer teams per conference which equals fewer money programs have to share with their conference is a win, win, win, win, win.