We can all thank Maryland and Rutgers for stirring up the conference realignment pot once again after everyone thought we might get a breather for a couple years.
Whether you like it or not, there will be five super conferences: ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and the SEC. The Atlantic Coast Conference certainly looks vulnerable after the Terrapins' departure, but there are too many prestigious east coast athletics programs to slide into one of the other four conferences.
It appears unlikely Commissioner of the Century Jim Delany is content with only 14 teams in the Big Ten, and if Maryland can afford the massive $50 million ACC exit fee, might Florida State or Clemson look for greener pastures as well, say in the Big 12? Could the Big Ten and Big 12 leftovers flock to the ACC?
Oh, conference realignment is truly the most wonderful time of the year.
Brigham Young University
BYU is the most valuable chip that everyone is not paying enough attention to.
With a massive fan base, excellent academic reputation and consistently competitive revenue sports teams, they could become a tremendous asset to the Big 12 as they look to extend their western footprint upon losing Colorado in 2011.
Florida State University
If Maryland can afford $50 million (or close to it depending upon negotiations), why can't Florida State? Head football coach Jimbo Fisher should be able to pony up the 10 percent down payment with his mega contract and subsequent extension he signed last December.
Remember, Florida State and Maryland were the only two ACC schools to vote against the raised exit fee.
Along with Florida State, rumors drifted across the Midwest and East Coast about the possibility of Clemson joining the Big 12. Seen as a relatively unrealistic option as little as three months ago, a potential move for the Tigers has become reality.
Would commissioner Bob Bowlsby approach Clemson and FSU as a package deal, or are each willing to join a new conference as the only East Coast member? And could they negotiate together with the ACC to lower the exit fee?
University of Louisville
Louisville Cardinal fans have their spiffy new basketball digs to thank for their increased value in conference realignment. Their spot as one of the most profitable basketball programs in the country alone makes them a target for either the ACC or Big 12.
A less than satisfactory academic reputation might keep the Big Ten away, but if other options fall through, there might be three super conferences knocking on James Ramsey's door.
Five super conferences would likely house 16 teams apiece, giving us 80 total schools. Because of this, the options are endless, and it could result in the movement of nearly two dozen schools in and out of conferences.
It is difficult to envision a 16-team conference that spans coast-to-coast if the Big 12 hypothetically went after UConn, San Diego State, Southern Methodist and Florida State because of chaotic travel schedules.
This would present conference commissioners such as Bob Bowlsby with the dilemma of inviting a less attractive school in Southern Methodist as opposed to an elite football program in Florida State in order to cut down on travel time.
The following schools could also land in the Big 12 under reasonably realistic scenarios (ranked in order of likelihood):
University of Cincinnati
Boise State University
Southern Methodist University
San Diego State University
University of Memphis
University of Nevada - Las Vegas
University of Nevada