Ranking the Next 5 College Football Programs That Will Cause More Realignment
If the last couple of years in college football have taught us anything, they’ve proved solidly that nothing ever stays the same.
Yes, if you had said a decade ago that in 2012 Missouri would no longer play Kansas, Texas A&M wouldn’t face Texas on Thanksgiving, Pitt would no longer square off with West Virginia and Oklahoma versus Nebraska was off the table, you would have been branded a crazy person.
Speed forward to today and not only are these changes for real, but more than likely more are on their way, especially in terms of conference realignment.
So which team or teams will cause the next domino to fall in the league-shifting game?
The following slideshow power ranks the next five football programs that could cause another round of seismic activity in conference repositioning.
5. Boise State
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Though Boise State and the Big East aren’t 100 percent guaranteed to both be standing at the altar for their 2013 wedding date, for now the Broncos have a sizeable rock on their finger that spells commitment.
But with the BCS figuratively gone from 2015 onwards, what value does the Big East offer Boise State other than improved strength of schedule that will reportedly be ultra important to the new selection committee?
With the Big East already a less-than-viable football conference, the Broncos' decommitment could cause the beginning of the end for the least likely to survive BCS league.
The other side of the Boise State equation is if they do sniff around for another home what would it be and what long-term effects would the move have on the other major conferences?
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Though Louisville hardly seems like a major power player in conference politics, if the Cardinals leave for the Big 12 or another potential super conference, suddenly the Big East is really on its way to being the next Conference USA.
Yes, if Louisville (or Cincinnati who has less moving rumors to go on) exits stage left, consider what is left from a football perspective in the Big East.
As of today it’s Cincinnati, Rutgers, UConn, USF and Syracuse, and moving forward it’s Boise State, San Diego State, SMU, UCF, Houston, Memphis and then Navy.
You could argue that Louisville’s departure (or, again, Cincinnati’s) could change Boise State’s commitment. Then suddenly the Big East wouldn't be able to offer its members an automatic BCS bid (because there is no such thing after 2014) or strength of schedule points.
Realistically if Louisville, Cincinnati or USF can find acceptance in another of the BCS conferences, the Big East may be one step closer to becoming the new C-USA, MWC or WAC.
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Even though Dabo Swinney has dismissed a potential Clemson move to the Big 12 by saying it makes “zero sense,” we all know that the cat and mouse game of conference realignment is rarely laced with the truth being heralded in public (h/t Erick Smith, USA Today).
This doesn’t mean that Swinney isn’t telling the truth; instead it has more to do with the secrecy and deception often associated with the silent power brokers in college football.
If Florida State exits the ACC first (or Virginia Tech or Clemson) and the conference is weakened, suddenly it’s every man for himself and Clemson, an attractive suitor, is the next team up on the block to the highest bidder.
The demise of the ACC would mean the beginning of the era of the super conference, an option that may not be good for college football but may well be on its way regardless of its inherent value.
2. Florida State
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With the BCS as we know it on its way out, it’s unclear where teams like Florida State, who may or may not have been looking for a new league home, stand on conference realignment.
Seriously, does the new format make Florida State more inclined to leave the ACC or instead more committed to its league home since 1992?
With only four teams making the mini playoff and a selection committee that will, in at least some part, want to honor conference champions, who makes the cut?
The Pac-12, the SEC, the Big 12, the Big Ten, the ACC or the Big East?
At first glance, you’ve got to think that the Big East is No. 6 and then the ACC is more than likely No. 5 (think past performance in the BCS and strength of schedule), a scenario which makes the ACC look less attractive among its peers.
The money and perhaps the championship accessibility may be even more abundant in the conferences with the most strength which may not be, at the end of the day, the ACC.
Florida State moving to the Big 12 would likely cause more knock-on realignment than any other in shift in the nation, with one big exception.
1. Notre Dame
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The change to the BCS format may be yet another reason that Notre Dame won’t join a conference.
Think about it, if Notre Dame gets even close to the top five by the end of the season, what selection committee in their right mind won’t pick the Irish to compete for the big cheesy enchilada?
Notre Dame will have the strength of schedule (look at their slate for 2012) and now, in the new scheme, there won’t be that pesky little ranking system to hold them out of the top eight.
The Irish are the only independent who truly can have it all.
That said, if Notre Dame feels as if joining a conference will give them a clearer path to the title and can still retain some of their unique financial position, they could move.
Furthermore, if the era of the super conference dawns and the Irish’s hand is forced, their move to the Big 12, the Big Ten or any conference home would change the landscape of college football like never before.