The Little Brothers of College Football
The recent conference near-meltdown reminds us all of the delicate balance that college football remains in. Fueled by network and BCS money, these often uneasy alliances dictate what matchups we see during the season and right around New Years.
Within the framework of these conferences (and a few times outside of it) are the other relationships. The "salvation" of the Big 12 exposed who controls whom in that region.
Here's a look at some of those who pull the strings and those whose strings are pulled from around the country.
UCLA and USC
If you have to ask who controls Los Angeles in a college football sense, you simply don't watch college football.
You can change the coach at either school. You can change the number of scholarships. You can put one of the programs on probation.
Still, you won't change the fact that USC will out-recruit UCLA in just about every season, at the local and regional level.
UCLA has had its wins throughout the years. They just aren't common enough to change the balance of power in the greater Los Angeles area.
Virginia Tech and Virginia
Different relationship here entirely, but there are many different types of big brothers.
Virginia Tech has dominated the Cavaliers on the field as of late, but they have the elder school to thank for their conference affiliation.
When the ACC expanded in 2003, Virginia made it clear that they wanted their rival in the league and not Syracuse. Hence, the Hokies joined the ACC.
Family ties seem to bind in the commonwealth. When the SEC expansion rumors started flying a few weeks ago, Virginia Tech made it clear that they wanted no part of it.
Families evidently stick together, at least on the east coast.
Boston College and Notre Dame
There aren't any conference ties here, as BC is in the ACC and Notre Dame (for now) is an independent. However, you can't discount the fact that these are the two most important Catholic schools on the college football landscape.
The rivalry is certainly there, despite the fact that it hasn't been nationally relevant since 1993, where a late Boston College field goal derailed the Fighting Irish's national championship hopes.
Notre Dame joining the Big 10 or another conference is a possibility in the future. If that were to happen, a BC defection from the ACC might quickly become relevant. The Eagles would like nothing more than to share the money that their Catholic big brothers generate.
Georgia Tech and Georgia
Attention Georgia Tech: You should have never left the SEC. If and when they expand again, they won't have you back.
It's a sad state of affairs for the Yellowjackets. They play in the major metro area of Atlanta, yet are a distant, distant second in that city (and the state) to the Bulldogs, who play in tiny Athens.
In addition to being second best in their own city, their stadium is a joke and they run an offense that was all the rage in the 1970s.
John Heisman coached there. For shame...
If Tech wants to keep up with their big brother, they can expand Bobby Dodd and start winning bowl games. Until then, it's all hand-me-downs for the Jackets.
Purdue and Notre Dame
In a football sense, Purdue just wants to be Notre Dame.
They share a state, a similar color scheme, a recruiting base, and a date on the schedule.
That's just about it. Big brother historically drives a Camaro, while little brother has a Honda Civic.
Could conference realignment change things? Not really. The two Indiana schools play each other every year anyway. There won't be many Notre Dame recruits jumping ship to play for Purdue. The Boilermakers might see a bit more revenue if Notre Dame joined the Big 10, but that's about it.
This relationship won't change anytime soon.
Oklahoma and Texas
This won't be the last time Texas makes the list.
The Sooners have demonstrated that they are willing to do whatever the Longhorns do, whether it's flirt with the Pac-10, explore the SEC, or hang around in a depleted Big-12.
With the historical success of the Oklahoma program, one would think that they would have more of a spine. Of course, money talks...
Oklahoma State and Oklahoma
Yes, Mike Gundy, you may be a man and you may be 40. However, the team you coach for is aged about 14 in college football years.
The Sooners rule the roost in the state, and they have a big brother of their own. Where does that leave Oklahoma State?
Squarely at the will of the school in Norman, that's where.
By the way, occasionally beating Oklahoma in the Bedlam game would help your standing in this relationship immensely. Just a thought...
Texas A&M and Texas
More of the same "Texas and whoever" relationship here, with the specter of state government intervention hanging over the issue.
If Texas does ever decide to make a conference move, the state would probably force them to include the Aggies in their plans. Without Texas in their conference, A&M would have serious issues sustaining any momentum at the top level of college football.
In college, there's supposed to be less parental interaction. In the Lone Star State, the legislature is simply taking the role of good old mom and dad.