College Football Realignment: What the 2013 Season Might Look Like
College football is changing, and teams who want to be part of big boy football better adapt to the change, or they will find themselves on the outside looking in.
There is no secret that the major universities in college football want to move to four super conferences and separate them from the NCAA. I love the traditions associated with college football, but let’s be real here. Wouldn't a playoff system be much better than having a computer figure out who should play for the national championship?
The only way the fans would be rewarded with a college football playoff system is if the universities separate from the NCAA. Some people still believe this will never happen, but I not only think it is going to happen, I think it is going to happen faster than people think. By the beginning of the 2013 football season, I believe the game of “musical conferences” will stop and the universities will have their “chair” to sit in or be left out of the game.
The most like scenario for college football is to have four super conferences made up of the Pac-12, Big Ten, Southeast and ACC. Each team will have 16 schools, and here is how I believe it will play out…
The easiest of the four super conferences to predict is the Pac-12, or should we say Pac-16? The Pac-12 has already had negotiations with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech. The chances are high that those are the four universities that will be added to the Pac-12 to give them their 16 schools. Oklahoma has made it clear that they are in favor of the move. The only hold up is Texas.
Texas wants to keep the Longhorn Network even if they switch conferences. The Longhorn Network could be what broke up the Big 12 Conferences, but like dealing with a crying baby, sometimes you just have to let them have their way so they will quit crying. It seems as though the Pac-12 will allow Texas to keep the Longhorn Network when they join the conference.
When the Pac-12 moves to 16 schools, the conference may be broken up into pods. This is what the pods will look like:
Each team would play members of their own pod each year. The teams would also play another pod and two more conference schools. Here would be a sample schedule for Texas:
Oklahoma (Their Pod Game)
Oklahoma State (Their Pod Game)
Texas Tech (Their Pod Game)
Arizona (Selected Pod Game)
Arizona State (Selected Pod Game)
USC (Selected Pod Game)
UCLA (Selected Pod Game)
Oregon (At-large Pod Game)
Utah (At-large Pod Game)
Atlantic Coast Conference
The other conference that is moving quickly in conference realignment is the ACC. This week, the ACC has accepted Syracuse and Pittsburgh as new members of the conference. No word has been given as to how soon the two schools would become official members of the conference.
The other two schools rumored to be heading to the ACC are Connecticut and Rutgers. The two schools have already asked permission for their board of regents to talk to the ACC. Usually, you don’t ask to marry someone unless you know the answer will be yes. I am sure Connecticut and Rutgers will be allowed to move to the ACC with Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
When the ACC is complete, I believe this will be their pod structure:
North Carolina State
The Southeast Conference is not moving as fast as the Pac-12 when it comes to conference realignment, but don’t think for a minute that the SEC does not have a plan in place.
The first school to join the SEC will be Texas A&M. The Aggies already have one foot in the SEC and one in the Big 12. As fast as the Big 12 is disintegrating, look for Texas A&M to plant both feet firmly in the SEC soon.
When Texas A&M joins the SEC, the conference will have 13 schools. Three more schools will need to be added before the super conference is complete. I believe these three schools will be Missouri, South Florida and TCU.
TCU has already committed to the Big East conference, but when Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Connecticut made their way out the door, TCU had to look for a new partner. I believe the SEC will be their new partner.
If the SEC were to break down into Pods like the Pac-12, I believe it would shape out like this:
Big Ten Conference
While the other super conferences go with 16 schools, I believe the Big Ten is the Conference that is reluctant to add teams just to reach 16. The Big Ten added Nebraska last year, which surprised many fans of the Big Ten. Out of all of the conferences, the Big Ten seems to be the most conservative.
The Big Ten could add Iowa State and Kansas to make their 16, but I do not see it happening. I believe the only addition to the Big Ten will be Notre Dame and West Virginia.
It is no secret that the Big Ten has had its eyes on Notre Dame for a long time. Notre Dame plays its non-football sports in the Big East Conference. With the lost of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Connecticut from the Big East to the ACC, Notre Dame may be forced to join a conference.
The Big Ten would add West Virginia because they make the most sense geographically. West Virginia has been to BCS games and won, so they do bring some credentials to the conference. The Big Ten may go with 13 teams, but that would be a scheduling nightmare for the conference. If the conference went to 14 (which I believe is the max), I think West Virginia is their team.
Unlike the other conferences, the Big Ten will not use a pod system. The Big Ten will keep the Legends and Leaders Divisions, with the addition of Notre Dame to even things out. Here is what the conference would look like:
The rest of the schools not involved in the super conferences would play in the traditional bowl games at the end of the season. The teams that remained in the Big East and Big 12 are currently talking about joining forces if the larger schools in their conference bolt to the super conferences.
The big losers in conference realignment would be: Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor, Boise State, BYU, Louisville and Cincinnati.
Much could happen over the next 12 months, and then again, maybe nothing happens. The Big 12 is key to determining whether or not the super conferences begin to take shape. If the Big 12 folds, which I think it will, then the SEC and Big Ten will have to add some teams to compete.
While conference realignment may be frustrating to some fans, it is sure fun to discuss!