College Football Conference Realignment: The End of the World as We Know It

Clint TalbottContributor IFebruary 15, 2010

The Big Ten and Pac-10 are researching more effective methods to get into your living room through the miracle of television. Conference playoffs and new markets have caught their eyes. Assuming anything happens, the consequences for the future range from mild to apocalyptic.

The Big 12 is feeling the heat of a two-front war with the Big Ten and Pac-10. Colorado and Missouri are obvious schools being looked over, but Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa State, and even Texas A&M and Texas are also names discussed. 

The Pac-10 was already rejected by Colorado and Texas at the initial formation of the conferences. I think Texas sticks by that decision. Colorado is a different school now, so, assuming the Pac-10 wants to give them another chance, it would not be surprising for them to accept. 

The Big Ten may actually have a chance at Texas, albeit slim. The Big Ten would be getting a respected research university, with a national fanbase across athletics and more money than God. Depending on how it all shook out, this could become only a lateral move for UT. 

Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa State are all regionally Big Ten. The downside? Not much is added in way of TV markets. The upside? Missouri and Iowa State hold existing rivalries with current Big Ten teams Illinois and Iowa, and on the surface are cultural fits for the conference.

Awhile back the Big 12 copyrighted the term “Big 14”—one can only assume in order to add a couple teams to the humble little conference. If the best defense is a good offense, the conference might be wise to give Colorado some company by going after Utah and bringing TCU in for the South. Pulling this off should give the conference the power to hold on to its current teams.

The Big East, ACC, and Mountain West have been coveted as well. Pitt, Syracuse, Rutgers, and West Virginia will likely be pursued by the Big Ten out of the Big East, and North Carolina, Virginia Tech, or Maryland would be nice catches out of the ACC. Most likely candidates for the Pac-10 other than Colorado are Utah and BYU out of the Mountain West.

Here comes the nothing-will-ever-be-the-same-again scenario. Colorado and Utah are now in the Pac-12. The Big 16 (Ten) has added Texas, Missouri, Kansas, Rutgers, and Pitt, so the Big 12 scrambles to bring in BYU, TCU, Houston, and Colorado State. That or fade into the landscape as the "Big Eight, Pt. 2."

The Mountain West and the WAC shuffle their decks. The Big East absorbs pieces of the MAC and Conference USA and the latter two shuffle their decks. Or possibly one of 10,000 other possibilities.

Wishful thinking on my part has all this prospective change resulting in the death of the BCS and the birth of some sort of playoff system under which winners are decided on the field—entirely on the field.

This all being conjecture and water-cooler speak, a wise man would put his money on college football conferences looking quite similar to the present in the near future.