Conference Realignment: What Expansion Means for CFB Recruiting Wars
By now every college football fan in the country has been overwhelmed with conference realignment talk and speculation.
When Colorado joined the Pac-10, the speculation shifted gears though, and the dominoes will begin falling into place in a matter of time.
Nebraska is expected to announce their intent to accept a bid to join the Big Ten; which will in essence signal the end of the Big 12. If Nebraska moves, Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma State are all going to jump ship for the Pac-10.
Even if Nebraska doesn't leave the conference, Texas and Oklahoma are still believed to be seriously considering a move.
Missouri might follow Nebraska and the entire Big East is on the fringe of jumping ship.
College football as we know it is coming to an end, but with new beginnings come new possibilities. Those possibilities range from lucrative television contracts to new television networks, the dissolution of conferences and the expansion of practically everyone else.
Recruiting, like everything else, will see significant shifts from its current makeup.
So how will traditional rivalries be effected?
How will recruiting over the next year or two change?
We've got the answers to some of the big recruiting questions moving forward when it comes to conference realignment's ever growing effect
The Big Question Marks: Up in the Air Schools and Conferences
As a result of all the conference realignment talk, a serious level of uncertainty has emerged for several schools on the outside looking in.
What will happen to the Big East in the shuffle?
Where will the leftovers from the Big 12 go?
Who will get invited to the Big 10, the SEC and the ACC?
These are some of the main questions that everyone is asking around the college football world, including recruits.
Obviously teams that are solidified in their conference won't be effected by this, but what about those that aren't?
That kind of uncertainly can be a definitive reason why some programs are going to miss out on recruits this year.
Don't underestimate the seriousness of this effect, especially on the Big East. Besides the Big 12, which likely won't exist beyond the 2011 season, the Big East is the biggest question mark at the moment. Teams are being recruited by the Big Ten, SEC and ACC and there's really no telling how that's going to turn out.
A recruit could be looking at the chance to play powerhouses like Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska and Iowa and sign on with a school, only to later know he'll be matching up with the likes of Central Florida and East Carolina.
When there are questions like that for one program and certainties like those that will come from powerhouses in the Pac-10 and Big Ten, where do you think a recruit will prefer to take their chances?
The Geographical Recruiting Shift
With Colorado to the Pac-10 and most of the Big 12 South expected to join them shortly, the pipelines between the Midwest and the West Coast could open up wide for all parties of the Pac-16.
The same notion goes for the possible inclusion of Nebraska in the Big Ten. According to Big Ten officials, the conference only plans to expand to 12 teams, but there has been speculation that this could increase to as many as 14 teams; with Pittsburgh a real possibility as well.
When asked about potential geographical shifts in recruiting strategy as conference realignment changes from theoretical to factual, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez felt it wouldn't have much of an affect on the Wolverines.
In three years under Rodriguez, Michigan has signed players from 14 different states. Typically, most of their recruits come from Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, but they also have had success in Florida, Arizona, Louisiana, and Massachusetts.
For powerhouse programs like Michigan, that shouldn't change too drastically. But for schools further down the totem pole, realignment means new possibilities in new regions.
The country is about to get a whole lot smaller in that regard.
The Pac-10 will reach from California to Texas and the Big Ten will stretch its arms across the North East and the Midwest, and possibly down the Atlantic Coast.
This will have an effect on the SEC, the ACC and the Big East primarily, but all of college football will be part of the shuffle; These conferences will have to react to the ripple effect that's already in motion.
Of course these moves will be primarily concerned with financial success, but the possibility of losing out on recruiting chances plays a major role in the equation from a purely athletic standpoint.
Mega Conferences = Big Time Opponents = Big Time Recruting
The possibility of new mega conferences in 2012 has the chance to change the landscape of college football completely. It means new BSC bowl bids, new television contracts, new rivalries, and a new spin on recruiting.
Recruits consider not only the school they attend, but the level of competition they'll face, the exposure they'll get and even which storied stadiums they'll play in.
Some recruits go to smaller programs like Vanderbilt and Mississippi State for the chance to play in Death Valley, the Swamp and Bryant-Denny Stadium. They aren't bypassing the chance to play at big time schools for this, but when it comes down to a choice between a Vanderbilt and a Middle Tennessee, being in the SEC makes a serious difference.
That notion will only grow stronger with mega conferences. All of the schools involved in the Pac-16 and Big 14 would be able to offer national exposure, competition levels and lists of opponents that no other conferences will be able to match; including the SEC.
Every angle in recruiting matters and this will be an important one.
The Traditional Rivalries
Many people wonder how conference realignment will affect traditional recruiting rivalries such as Michigan/Ohio State, USC/UCLA, or Texas/Oklahoma that will be directly involved in the creation of bigger and better existing conferences.
These traditional rivalries themselves don't stand to be effected too drastically, but they will be expanded.
In the near future you'll be able to throw in Nebraska and possibly Pitt in with Ohio State and Michigan when it comes to recruiting battles. If Nebraska joins the Big Ten, they'll be much more involved in the pursuit of recruits that traditionally wouldn't be considering them.
Texas, Oklahoma, UCS, and UCLA will see a similar effect take place in the Pac-16.
Overall, recruiting rivalries will heat up as the competition gets more intense.
But as far as a dissolution of current recruiting rivalries, that seems very unlikely.