NCAA Football: Where Will Your Team Be When the Conferences Realign?

Gary BrownCorrespondent IIFebruary 18, 2010

From College Sports Matchups

Here is something you can bet on: There is going to be conference realignment in the NCAA.

Everyone keeps talking expansion, but for that to occur it means another conference is going to get smaller. It is hard to imagine any of the major conferences would see downsizing as a good option right now, so expect the first round of conference jumpers to lead to a second wave as replacements are sought.

While there is much talk about Texas leaving the Big 12 to join the Big Ten and the Pac-10 expanding beyond its traditional geographic borders, the reality of who will land where will be driven by three key considerations as outlined below.

1.) Financial Opportunity

Going to the Big Ten would offer significant financial opportunity to most schools, but what some schools bring to the table will not make the extension of an invitation worthwhile.

2.) Geographical Alignment

Where a school sits is important in the process of making a decision. Beyond football and basketball, schools do still offer other athletic opportunities. If you get far enough away from your geographic base, teams will start spending more time on buses or schools will be forced to buy more plane tickets.

3.) Recruiting Impact

No school wants to provide a lesser rival a more even playing field on which to recruit.

Want an example of this?

Do you think Ohio State wants to see Cincinnati be given more legitimacy by letting it in the Big Ten? Playing too many games far from home also might give more local competitors an opportunity to steal players from you. Texas A&M would relish the idea of the Longhorns traveling to play away games in places like Madison, Wisconsin.

Using these three areas, here is one look at how the conferences could shake out.

Big Ten

Michigan StateMinnesota
NorthwesternOhio State
Penn StatePurdue


Syracuse is the new team in the Big Ten.


It doesn’t step on the traditional recruiting grounds of the current Big Ten teams and it delivers a large television market to the conference. Yes, Big Ten teams are shown in New York, so Syracuse adds a New York team to the league. By the way, Syracuse brings a basketball power as well.

Other schools considered: UConn, Texas, Nebraska, Missouri, Notre Dame, Pitt, and Rutgers



ArizonaArizona State
Oregon StateUSC
WashingtonWashington State
Boise StateUtah


Here is the most sweeping move of the conference changes. Out west the Pac-10 picks up four teams to become the first major to have 14 schools playing football. The additions are Boise State, Utah, BYU and Colorado. Each of these teams enhance the conference’s television package.

Other teams considered: San Diego State and San Jose State.

Big 12

BaylorIowa State
KansasKansas State
OklahomaOklahoma State
TexasTexas A&M
Texas TechArkansas


Being void of Colorado presents a real opportunity to the Big 12 and it takes it. Arkansas aligns with the conference over the objections of the Sooners and Cowboys, and gives the conference a new television market. The Razorbacks get to play several of their former SWC rivals along with more natural rivals like Missouri and Oklahoma.

Other schools considered: LSU, Arizona and Arizona State.  

Southeastern Conference

Ole MissMiss. State
South CarolinaTennessee
VanderbiltVirginia Tech


While believing it could pass on this round of expansion, the nation’s premier conference was surprised that a team was willing to bolt its giant money-printing machine. Expansion means adding Virginia Tech. Why? Clemson and Georgia Tech were too close to the stomping grounds of two other East teams.
Other schools considered: Clemson, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Florida State, and Miami.
Atlantic Coast Conference
Boston CollegeClemson
DukeFlorida State
Georgia TechMaryland
MiamiNorth Carolina
North Carolina StateVirginia
Wake ForestWest Virginia
The loss of Virginia Tech hurts the ACC, but it finds a team in West Virginia from the Big East that can be the equal of the Hokies in many ways.
Other schools considered: Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, and Rutgers.
The Big East
RutgersSouth Florida
Central FloridaAlabama-Birmingham
MarshallEast Carolina


Did we say the Pac-10 made the most sweeping changes?
Forget that.
The Big East is the real conference trying to make a move. First, it learned the Big Ten really did not find many of its schools that interesting. Second, it realized most of its basketball-only members were draining resources away from teams that generated real revenue.
Here are the moves made by the Big East: First it kicks out all the non-football teams. Goodbye to Notre Dame, Georgetown, Marquette, Seton Hall, St. Johns, Providence, and DePaul. Villanova gets to stay by agreeing to take its FCS national championship team up a level when the current NCAA moratorium ends in 2011.
After dumping its basketball-only friends, the conference looks to expand its football kingdom by adding Alabama-Birmingham and Central Florida. UAB finds an easier road to establish equal footing with Auburn and 'Bama while giving a new television market to the Big East.
Central Florida gives the conference the Orlando market to help further the conference's reach in the Sunshine State. East Carolina and Marshall are also added to give the league 10 teams playing football and basketball.
Other schools considered: Southern Miss.



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