Conference Expansion and the 32 Team League That Could Change College Football
With all this talk of conference expansion and mega conferences, it got some of us a Bleacher Report thinking. Imagine if you will a college football landscape similar to that of the NFL. Instead of many conferences and bowls there would be one elite super conference featuring the 32 best and most powerful teams in all the land.
Who would be included and what would that look like? Here is one take on that hypothetical world.
The Florida Gators, formerly of the SEC, will lead off this fantasy super league. Under coach Urban Meyer the Gators have been arguably the best team in college football over the last decade. With the obvious exception of last season, they've been the best team in the best league.
As long as Meyer is at the helm they should remain near the top. When he decides to step down perhaps his protégé Tim Tebow will be ready to step up when he pro career finishes up in the next couple years.
Alabama Crimson Tide
The 32 team super conference rolls on with the addition of another SEC juggernaut: The Alabama Crimson Tide. Bama has been one of the most proud and storied programs in college football history.
No way you leave these guys out. Alabama is another that should remain near the top as long as coach Nick Saban decides to "not" not take some other job.
The Trojans have been the dominant team in the West and one of the best in College Football under coach Pete Carroll. Now with Lane Kiffin at the helm it will be interesting to see if USC can maintain its winning ways. Kiffin after all has never had a winning record as a coach and has only coached one division one college football program.
That worked out well for all involved I think.
Ohio State Buckeyes
The Bucks and the Sweater vest himself, Jim Tressel, finally got off the bowl schnide last season. They earn a spot based on history, tradition, and the fact they are consistently a solid team. They may not always live up to the lofty expectations of the folks in Columbus, but they at least run a clean program that wins more time than it loses.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Irish get in on name recognition and because this year just may be the year. It will be interesting to see if new coach Brian Kelly can restore some sheen to the tarnished golden domers. Notre Dame gets in on tradition and history alone.
Regardless of records and success, they are one of the premier names in college football. The only problem in this scenario is whether the Irish will accept being in a conference at all. They are a national program you know.
The Longhorns join the stampede into this new super conference. Mack Brown has established Texas as a top notch football program. In a state where the people eat barbecue and crap football, it wouldn't make much sense to leave out the Horns.
Virginia Tech Hokies
While not one of the most historic programs in all of college football, the Hokies have become the cream of the ACC and a force in that national landscape. They do it with Beamer-ball a phrase that describes coach Frank Beamer's penchant for good special teams and defense.
While the Hokies won't blow you away with offense, they do have enough athletes to keep up with most of the top tier teams. And Lane Stadium provides one hell of a home field advantage. The only problem is does anyone really know what a Hokie is?
Penn State Nittany Lions
You can't create a super conference without including a man who is as old as college football itself. Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions are an often forgotten team in college football but none-the-less a very good program. Whether it's his sagely demeanor and wisdom or an Energizer battery that keeps he and the program going you got to admire the success. The White outs are pretty damn cool, too.
The Pitt Panthers have enjoyed resurgence since coach Dave Wannstedt arrived. He has got to be the most popular man with the mustache since Magnum. His look and demeanor fit the Steel City perfectly, and he has built a pretty solid program in the process. The only thing that keeps them out is a no vote from Penn State.
Boise State Broncos
Ten years ago and most in the college football know would have said, "Boise who?" But thanks to one improbable statue of liberty the Broncos have proven to have some staying power and despite LaGarrette Blount's capable right cross, Boise State has proven they are no Glass Joe in the world of College Football Punch Out.
Utah Runnin Utes
Like their non-BCS compadres Boise State, the Utes have also proven to have a bit of staying power in the world of the college football giants. Just over a year removed from whipping the floor with this past season's National Champions, Utah is a force in the West.
Another storied program from the SEC joins our new conference. The Vols have seen some lean years of late but hope that they now have a coach that wants to be there as long as the fans and boosters will have him. Besides the eventual conference show downs with USC in Neyland Stadium should be interesting.
I promise this new conference isn't just all about the SEC, but for now let's welcome in the Tigers. They have great tradition, they have a solid coach and they win despite having yellow and purple uniforms.
The Wolverines are another traditional college powerhouse that enters the conference on a down note. You figure Rich Rodriguez has at least this season to try and turn the ship around before Big Blue runs him out of town. They need to be in this conference if for nothing else the ESPN rivalry commercials feature Michigan and Ohio State.
You include the Ducks if for no other reason than to see how hideous their uniforms will be. The fact that they are one of the best teams in the Pac 10, and they just dethroned the USC Trojans helps their case for a bid into the super conference.
You just don't want to make their running backs angry unless you want a black eye.
As a dog lover I've got to include the Bulldogs for no other reason than "UGA." The Bulldogs haven't really been spectacular but they are good enough to be competitive in this super league.
Georiga Tech Yellow Jackets
Staying in the state of Georgia we will include the Dogs rivals the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Coach Paul Johnson has brought the triple option back into style first at Navy and now with the Jackets. The defending ACC Champs are worthy of competing in this league and they provide a bit of a throw back with their style of play.
Michigan State Spartans
I've always looked at the Spartans as a sleeping giant. Given the right coach I think they could be successful again so they get a big. Here is hoping that they have enough players left once all the suspensions get handed down. Wait, I think they just lost another one.
The Huskers came within one second of re-establishing themselves as a top tier team and spoiling the BCS National Championship matchup between Texas and Alabama. They are clearly headed in the right direction but can they build on the success. It all starts with recruiting and they are located in Lincoln, Nebraska. Not your first choice in vacation destinations.
The Tigers are the ACC's version of an SEC school. They have great fans, great stadium and tradition. But they have a coach whose name sounds like a Fred Flintstone phrase. Not to mention they never quite live up to the expectations. They could fill that role in our new conference nicely.
California Golden Bears
I figured this league needed at least one more team from California and, well, UCLA just didn't make the cut. Cal can get the athletes and they occasional can win some games they shouldn't so they are in.
The Tigers are in but they may need to decide on making their mascot officially the War Eagles. There may be too many Tigers in our conference already. Auburn brings the great rivalry with Alabama to the table as well as a passionate fan base.
Ole Miss Rebels
Another traditional SEC football program enters the mix. They are like a fraternity's version of a legacy pledge. They get in based on their history and the fact that the eye test is good. They have just enough to compete so they get a bid.
Texas A&M Aggies
Another team enters with a mysterious nickname. What is an Aggie? They haven't had the most success lately but you've got to include the 12th Man in the conference. Who wouldn't want to be an Aggie fan? Your chance of making out after scoring drives increases exponentially by rooting for A&M.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
The Red Raiders have lost some of their luster with coach Mike Leach now gone. They would have brought a high flying offense with him. If they can recover from the concussion Leach's departure caused the program they will make a fine addition to the league.
The Red River Rivalry gets them in to the conference. The Sooners bring tradition as well as skill despite the recent failure to win big games. I hear Bob Stoops is taking auditions for new nicknames.
Is this Heaven? No its a college football super conference and Iowa is included. One because they've had a nice run of success lately and two I needed to include another team from the Ohio Valley Area. They have some credibility coming from the Big Ten.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
It is time for OSU to cowboy up and join the big boys in the new world of college football. The have a good foundation and history. And correct me if I'm wrong but isn't their coach a man?
South Carolina Camecocks
I've always had a soft spot for South Carolina thanks to my mom. For Christmas one year all I wanted was a Washington Redskins mock football uniform. You know the ones with the plastic shoulder pads and helmet they say not for real contact. Did I get one?
No, instead my twin brother got the Redskin uniform and I got a Gamecock's one instead. I was six or seven years old and had no idea what a Gamecock even was? I guess she figured I wouldn't notice and the colors were close enough.
Oh yeah and they now have Steve Spurrier and the world's largest Cocktail Party, so there is that.
Florida State Seminoles
After running a coaching legend out of town, the Seminoles have to try and rebuild their reputation as well as their program. Jimbo Fisher will now take the reigns of Renegade and try to avoid the saddle sores that have plagued the Noles the past several years. He can recruit for sure but can he coach? Answers are coming soon.
The upcoming season is a critical one for the U and coach Randy Shannon. That being said you can't exclude the final of three major Florida universities. While the Hurricanes have essentially been down graded lately to more of a tropical storm if not depression, they hope warmer waters lie ahead for them to strengthen back into the raging storm they've been in the past.
Sure the Midshipmen aren't full of elite talent but they still win. First under Paul Johnson and now Ken Niumatalolo, the triple option has led Navy to seven straight bowl appearances. So it is anchors away those who think an Armed Forces Academy can't compete anymore. Those guys are tough as nails.
Choosing the top 32 teams wasn't just about wins and loses. It was about rivalries, tradition and who best exemplifies college football. A super conference would need to feature these 32 teams. And while I'm sure that some are up for debate no one can argue that it wouldn't be entertaining to say the least.