Hello college sports fans!
Here's another college conference realignment on the heels of some of my others.
It is called "Schmolik 14" because the conferences have 14 teams as opposed to the 16 most of the "super conferences" have proposed.
If you can get four great additions to get to 16, it's worth it. If you have to add second-best schools in tiny states like Iowa State and Kansas State, it's just extra mouths to feed.
In addition, you really need to have an even number of teams or you are going to have unbalanced divisions for college football (the Big Ten had eleven teams but didn't have football divisions). As much as the SEC says they are happy with 13, you know they want 14 (or 16 if they get the right teams).
Let's assume that Texas A&M moves to the SEC and the Oklahoma schools are going to the Pac-12 (personally I am opposed to the move without Texas) and that Texas and the Pac-12 cannot settle their differences.
This puts the Pacific Conference at 14. If Texas is off the table, I'm not sure there are viable alternatives. So, they stay at 14 teams.
Last week I posted that the Big Ten and ACC should save Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Connecticut. I also asked what conference best suited Pittsburgh and Syracuse. As of the time of this writing, you fans voted the Big Ten as the best fit for Pitt and the ACC for Syracuse.
I posted at the end of the article that if the ACC takes Syracuse and UConn and the Big Ten takes Pitt and finally convinces Notre Dame to join a conference, you've got two great 14 team leagues.
If the Pac-12, Big Ten, and ACC expand as I said, that means the SEC needs another member to get to 14.
If you assume no ACC team will accept an invite to the SEC (of course that's a big assumption) and that no team from a current SEC state will get an invite, that pretty much leaves one school: West Virginia.
As much as you want to think college sports is 100 percent about football, others things do matter. Academics are a big deal, especially in conferences like the Big Ten and ACC.
In addition, people and money matter. Conferences often look for potential new markets and new viewers. West Virginia has less than two million people.
A school like Rutgers is a bench warmer compared to West Virginia in terms of football (and basketball). But Rutgers can command a much bigger audience if Rutgers ever became an established program. They are also ranked in the top 100 (68th) in the same US News & World Report rankings.
If the criteria is academics and demographics, Rutgers would probably gain an invite to the ACC or Big Ten over West Virginia. I personally think Rutgers is dead weight athletically and doubt the whole "New York" market is that important.
If Rutgers were really smart, they would rename their school "New Jersey University" or "University of New Jersey" to market the New Jersey part instead of naming after a person no one has ever heard of.
However, in the SEC, football is a much bigger deal, academics do not seem to be as big, and they already have plenty of schools in "small" states (South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi). West Virginia would fit right in.
So, the "Big Four" have 14 schools each now
SEC: Adds Texas A&M and West Virginia
Pac-"14": Adds Oklahoma and Oklahoma State
Big Ten: Adds Pittsburgh and Notre Dame
ACC: Adds Connecticut and Syracuse
That leaves the Big 12 with just seven members (including Texas) and Big East football with five. The Big East wants to expand to take the Big 12 schools no one else wants. Texas would rather stay in a conference where they can have the Longhorn Network and keep control of it.
So I figured once Pitt, Syracuse, and UConn are "saved", let's give Texas and what's left of Big East football and create a new conference. For now, I will call it the Big Mess. I refuse to call this conference the "Big East". You might as well call it the "Longhorn" Conference.
It will have schools from New Jersey to Texas but does anyone in the Big East care? Texas can pretty much dictate what they want because do any of the other schools have any other realistic options?
To get to 14 members, I will add Houston and Central Florida. I will then divide into two divisions.
Big Mess North Division: Cincinnati, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisville, Missouri, Rutgers and the Big Mess South Division: Baylor, Central Florida, Houston, South Florida, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech (all the Texas and Florida schools)
As long as Texas is in the conference, you probably still have this as the fifth BCS conference.
I think this 5-by-14 model is better than any other 4-by-16 model out there and all of the current BCS conference members are still accounted for.
The Big Ten and ACC maintain their academic integrity and gain larger potential TV viewers without pushing the geographical borders drastically.
The ACC gets more presence in the northeast instead of competing with the SEC for the southeast football crazed market. Duke vs. UConn or North Carolina vs. Syracuse in basketball? Count me in!
The SEC gets Texas A&M and another great football school without adding a school from a current SEC state.
The Big East (or what's left of it) gets the schools they want while Pitt, Syracuse, and UConn join more geographic friendly conferences and not have to deal with mid winter trips to Iowa State or Kansas State or Baylor.
Texas gets to keep the Longhorn Network.
The state of Texas has all of its major college football teams outside of Texas A&M in one conference.
I think almost everyone should be happy with this alignment.