Texas A&M in the SEC? A Sensible Realignment Proposal for the NCAA

Mason ArgiropoulosContributor IAugust 22, 2011

Texas A&M in the SEC? A Sensible Realignment Proposal for the NCAA

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    Nebraska invades Penn State.  Colorado battles Oregon State.  TCU takes on Providence.  These are some of the exciting new match-ups that we will see as the latest round of NCAA musical chairs takes effect.  What do these pairs of newly acquainted conference foes have in common? 

    A)  Separated by less than 1,000 miles

    B)  Situated the same time zone

    C)  Can easily find direct commercial flights between nearest airports

    D)  None of the above 

    The correct answer is, of course, D. 

    As the Power Conferences continue to hog more power, their regional namesakes have become less and less relevant.  How does one gerrymander a map such that the Big East can claim Milwaukee and Fort Worth as eastern cities?  What exactly does the view of the Pacific Ocean look like from Colorado and Utah? 

    More important than the geographic inconsistencies is the travel toll on the student athletes.  In the current configuration, teams such as Boston College and Louisiana Tech are already a flight away from every conference road game; there will now be several other schools whose representatives will carry the same burden.  If Missouri or Texas A&M joins the SEC, they too will have a painful travel schedule.  There must be a better way to keep the airlines in business. 

    The NFL, NBA and NHL have all realigned divisions within the last 15 years for improved scheduling efficiency and reduced travel for players.  The NCAA needs to consider a similar measure, and here is a proposal for review.

Realignment Proposal Caveats

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    A few notes before the plan is revealed: 

    1) Only the following Power Conferences are contained in the proposal: Big 10, Big 12, Pac 10, SEC, ACC, Big East, Mountain West, WAC and Conference USA.


    2) Schools are organized primarily by geography but without splitting in-state rivals (e.g. Alabama/Auburn) in most cases.


    3) All “new” conferences contain 12 schools with two divisions each, either North/South or East/West.  This gives every conference a coveted championship game in football, and allows for consistent scheduling in basketball whereby every team plays its division rivals twice and each team from the opposite division once, totaling 16 conference games.


    4) The proposal is largely “inclusive”, meaning that no teams from the aforementioned conferences are omitted.  Major independents were also included, and a few non-Power Conference schools were added to fully round out each conference.


    5) A few of the schools in the proposal do not have Division I football programs.  In this Utopian world, it is assumed that Georgetown, Seton Hall and others will create such programs or risk losing their slots in the new alignment.

The Northeast Conference

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    East Division

    • Boston College
    • Connecticut
    • Providence
    • Rutgers
    • Seton Hall
    • St. John’s

     

    West Division

    • Army
    • Penn State
    • Pittsburgh
    • Syracuse
    • Temple
    • Villanova

     

    The Northeast, which is largely made up of current Big East schools, should continue to be one of the toughest basketball conferences in the country.  It may struggle on the gridiron, but a perennial fall match-up between Penn State and Pitt will certainly generate excitement.

The Great Lakes Conference

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    East Division

    • Indiana
    • Michigan
    • Michigan State
    • Notre Dame
    • Ohio State
    • Purdue 

     

    West Division

    • DePaul
    • Illinois
    • Marquette
    • Minnesota
    • Northwestern
    • Wisconsin 

     

    Ohio State and Michigan are indeed in the same division where, as bitter rivals, they belong.  Notre Dame is also where it belongs, in a football conference with nearby schools it plays every year anyway.

The Mid Atlantic Conference

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    North Division

    • Georgetown
    • Marshall
    • Maryland
    • Navy
    • Virginia
    • West Virginia

     

    South Division

    • Duke
    • East Carolina
    • North Carolina
    • North Carolina State
    • Virginia Tech
    • Wake Forest

     

    The core of the existing ACC is preserved in this arrangement, and the introduction of Georgetown and West Virginia creates intriguing tip-offs on the hard court.  The Mountaineers can continue to schedule the Backyard Brawl with Pittsburgh, it will simply be an out-of-conference game.

The Southeast Conference

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    North Division

    • Alabama
    • Auburn
    • Clemson
    • Georgia
    • Georgia Tech
    • South Carolina

     

    South Division

    • Alabama-Birmingham
    • Central Florida
    • Florida
    • Florida State
    • Miami
    • South Florida

     

    The new-look SEC will still maintain the possibility of a Florida/Alabama championship game.  It also brings key in-state rivalries under one roof: Georgia/Georgia Tech, Florida/Florida State, and South Carolina/Clemson.

The Southern Conference

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    North Division

    • Cincinnati
    • Kentucky
    • Louisville
    • Memphis
    • Tennessee
    • Vanderbilt

     

    South Division

    • Louisiana State
    • Louisiana Tech
    • Mississippi
    • Mississippi State
    • Southern Mississippi
    • Tulane

     

    The Southern Conference unites Louisville and Kentucky along with Memphis and Tennessee.  The North Division should provide incredibly entertaining basketball: all 6 teams made the NCAA tournament in 2011.

The Midwest Conference

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    East Division

    • Arkansas
    • Arkansas State
    • Iowa
    • Iowa State
    • Missouri
    • Nebraska

     

    West Division

    • Air Force
    • Colorado
    • Colorado State
    • Kansas
    • Kansas State
    • Tulsa

     

    The Buffaloes are back in a conference with nearby opponents instead of trekking to the west coast several times a year.  The Cornhuskers also remain in a more regionally appropriate locale.

The Southwest Conference

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    North Division

    • North Texas
    • Oklahoma
    • Oklahoma State
    • Southern Methodist
    • Texas Christian
    • Texas Tech

     

    South Division

    • Baylor
    • Houston
    • Rice
    • Texas
    • Texas A&M
    • Texas-El Paso

     

    In what is basically the Oklahoma and Texas conference, true football supremacy can be determined as all 10 Lone Star schools battle one another.  The Red River Rivalry is also unharmed in the making of this proposal.

The Mountain Conference

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    North Division

    • Boise State
    • Brigham Young
    • Idaho
    • Utah
    • Utah State
    • Wyoming

     

    South Division

    • Arizona
    • Arizona State
    • Nevada
    • Nevada-Las Vegas
    • New Mexico
    • New Mexico State

     

    The Boise State Broncos would be in a legitimate football conference with an annual opportunity to advance to the BCS Championship.  Hoops lovers score a victory with Arizona, UNLV, BYU and Utah State squaring off in conference play.

The Pacific Conference

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    North Division

    • California
    • Oregon
    • Oregon State
    • Stanford
    • Washington
    • Washington State

     

    South Division

    • Fresno State
    • Hawaii
    • San Diego State
    • San Jose State
    • UCLA
    • USC

     

    Most of the current Pac 10 grudge matches will continue in the new Pacific Conference.  Travel won’t be much fun for the University of Hawaii, but at least their road trips terminate at the nearest shoreline.

     

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