Will Florida State still be in the ACC by the time the 2014 season starts
The start of the 2011 college football season was supposed to be a time to celebrate and get excited. However, instead, it became a time filled with confusion, panic and uncertainty, as talk of massive conference realignment shifts gripped the sport for months.
Is the Big 12 on its deathbed?
Is the Pac-12 about to become the Pac-16?
What’s going to happen to Texas and Oklahoma?
Will Notre Dame join a conference?
Is the Big East about to become completely irrelevant?
Those were just a few of the important questions that no one seemed to have an answer for.
As it turned out, though, every conference managed to survive, and the only truly major moves were Texas A&M heading from the Big 12 to the SEC, West Virginia and TCU joining the Big 12 and Syracuse and Pittsburgh heading from the Big East to the ACC.
The college football landscape has certainly shifted a bit, but there wasn't the massive shake-ups that some were predicting.
Now, it seems the focus has shifted from conference realignment to the new future four-team playoff system that was just recently approved by school presidents.
A playoff system is something that college football fans have been clamoring for for years, but the question is, now that it’s finally a reality, how will it affect the major conference for the future?
No fan wants to endure another round of grueling realignment rumors this season, but given the recent developments and the introduction of a playoff system, it’s certainly a possibility that could happen.
If the next wave of realignment does hit college football before the 2014 season starts, here’s a look at how all six major conferences could be affected.
Florida State mascot
If the next phase of realignment starts up again before the 2014 season, the ACC will be the conference to really keep an eye on.
With the future additions of former Big East members Pittsburgh and Syracuse after this season, the league will have 14 teams split among two divisions.
That is, of course, if the ACC doesn't lose a major program such as Clemson, Florida State or Miami to a conference like the Big 12.
Just a month ago, the Seminoles were rumored to be looking into the possible financial gain that they would get out of moving from the ACC to the Big 12, but since then, there hasn't been any further talk about a possible switch.
If the ACC can keep Florida State and the rest of its 14 teams intact, the conference would seem to be in fine shape for the future.
Nevertheless, there's always the possibility that they could look to add a Big East team like Connecticut or Rutgers, or in the best possible scenario—somehow convince Notre Dame to join.
It wouldn't be surprising if the ACC became college football's first true 16-team super-conference by the time the 2014 season rolls around.
After losing West Virginia to the Big 12 this offseason, the Big East is currently down to just eight teams, and the league is about to lose two more schools—Pittsburgh and Syracuse—after this season.
The format of the conference will look different for the 2013 season, as the league is set to split into two divisions after the arrivals of six new schools—Boise State, Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State and SMU.
Still, with the announcement of the new playoff system, the future is still very hazy for the Big East, as there's a good chance that the league will be downgraded and not included in the new major bowl plan.
Teams such as Louisville, Rutgers, Connecticut and possibly even Boise State could be targets of other major conferences if the realignment talk starts to heat up again, and if one or more of those schools were to be snatched away, it would jeopardize the stability of the entire conference.
The Big Ten seems like it's now set with 12 teams, as it allows the league to have a lucrative conference championship game.
It doesn't seem as if the Big Ten will be actively looking to expand any time soon, but there is one school that the league would likely welcome with open arms, and that's Notre Dame.
From almost every standpoint, the Irish are a perfect match for the conference, as they fit all of the criteria that the league is looking for in a school, and they happen to be located right in the heart of Big Ten country.
Still, it remains to be seen whether Notre Dame will ever join a major conference, since the school has made it clear that it loves having an independent football program, as it obviously has huge financial benefits.
The Big 12 lost Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC this offseason, but it gained TCU and West Virginia to keep the conference at 10 teams.
League officials and school presidents will likely try to get the conference back up to 12 teams by the 2014 season, so they can have a conference championship game again.
There are numerous potential targets that could include schools such as Clemson, Florida State and Miami out of the ACC, Louisville out of the Big East and college football's two top independent programs—BYU and Notre Dame.
Florida State and Notre Dame would obviously be the most desirable choices, but it will be difficult to land just one of those schools, let alone both of them.
If the Big 12 can't get its hands on the Seminoles and the Irish, schools such as BYU and Louisville could possibly be part of the league's fallback plan.
The Pac-12 is in great shape for the future with 12 schools, and it's a conference that won't have to make any drastic moves any time soon.
These days, however, given the increasingly competitive college football conference arms race, leagues are always looking to get bigger and stronger, and if the right opportunity came along, the Pac-12 could always expand.
The one school that would make a lot of sense for the conference is BYU, which is currently an independent. Although if you add the Cougars, you would have to find another school to balance out the two divisions.
If the Big East ends up folding, Boise State would be an attractive option as a football-only member, but the Idaho market isn't exactly one that Pac-12 officials would be thrilled with.
Overall, unless there's a major shakeup, the Pac-12 appears like it will stay at 12 teams for the foreseeable future.
The SEC was already college football's clear-cut powerhouse conference, and the rich got even richer this offseason after Missouri and Texas A&M came over from the Big 12.
The league now has 14 solid programs, and it's set up to be the strongest and most competitive conference in college football for years to come.
The SEC has no need for anymore schools at this point, and it's highly doubtful that the conference will be expanding again any time soon.