Conference Realignment: How Will College Football Look When the Dust Settles?

Danny FlynnSenior Analyst ISeptember 27, 2011

Conference Realignment: How Will College Football Look When the Dust Settles?

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    There’s absolutely nothing I’d rather talk about less than college football conference realignment, but hey, you've got to do what you've got to do.

    Even after the Pac-12 announced that it will not be expanding, conference realignment is still very much a reality that we’re going to have to deal with over the next few years.

    Yes, the college football chaos theory was a bit overblown, but it’s still too early to measure by how much.

    With so much money at stake, the college football landscape is going to continue to shift until all the big-name schools are satisfied with their profits.

    Where will that leave us?

    Let’s take a look at how the six BCS conferences could possibly change.

ACC

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    So, I guess stealing Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech from the Big East wasn’t enough.

    The ACC had to come back for Round 2.

    After coming out of left field and poaching Pittsburgh and Syracuse, the ACC is now the deepest conference in the country, with 14 member schools.

    The question is, will the ACC bump that number up to 16 to become college football’s first superconference, and if so, who will it target? 

    The three most likely schools for those final two spots would seem to be Notre Dame, Connecticut and Rutgers, but the only way a move can get done is if Notre Dame decides to join.

    It seems unlikely, at least at this time, that the Irish would join a conference. But, if other conferences start making some more moves, they could deem it necessary to find a home.

    Connecticut desperately wants to get into the ACC, but Notre Dame is the school that holds all the chips.

Big East

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    The Big East is on life support right now, and with just six football schools remaining, it simply can’t afford any more teams jumping off the ship.

    Syracuse and Pittsburgh are already gone, and Rutgers, Connecticut, West Virginia and Louisville have reportedly explored their options.

    Right now, the future doesn’t look all that promising for the Big East, and the options for replacements aren’t all that overwhelming.

    Can schools like Central Florida, East Carolina, Temple and Air Force really save the Big East? 

    Even if it remains intact, it’s hard to see a conference with that kind of competition keeping its automatic BCS bid.

Big 12

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    Well, thank God, we can all sleep a little easier now that we know Texas will be able to keep all of the profits from the Longhorn Network.

    Texas got its wish, the Big 12 is staying together, at least for now, and that means the Longhorns won’t have to do anything silly like share revenue.

    After so much wasted talk about the possibility of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech all making the move to the Pac-12, it now looks like the Big 12 will regroup and try to work out a plan to stay together for the long haul.

    It'll wave goodbye to Texas A&M, who is headed off to the SEC. 

    The conference can’t afford to lose Missouri to the SEC as well, but it would probably be in the Tigers' best interest to stay put at this point.

    Soon enough, the invitations for the Big 12 party will be sent out.

    TCU, Louisville, BYU and Air Force should all have their mailboxes ready.

    In the end, I think it will be TCU and Louisville who have the best shot to become the newest members of the Big 12.

    But, you also have to remember that, just because the conference survived for now, it’s still far from stable at this point.

Big Ten

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    The Big Ten seems to be satisfied now that it's got its hands on Nebraska and moved up to 12 teams.

    The conference’s main goal was to be able to produce a revenue-generating conference championship game, and it's accomplished that.

    The Big Ten is sitting pretty right now. It's got 12 schools, it's got a conference championship game and it's got its own television network.

    The bottom line is, the Big Ten's got stability.

    Sure, it would welcome a school like Notre Dame if the Irish felt the need to find a conference home, and it might even want to look at a school like Rutgers, who holds the key to the New York area market, but it’s not as if the Big Ten needs to make any moves.

    The only thing the Big Ten needs to do for the future, is change those dumb division names.  

Pac-12

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    Ah, Larry Scott, you pulled a fast one on us.

    Just when you thought the Pac-12 commissioner was going to rattle college athletics, he puts on the breaks and does a good old Lee Corso “Not so fast!"

    As it turns out, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech will not be joining the conference, and the Pac-12 is not looking to further expand at this time.

    Like the Big Ten, the Pac-12 doesn’t have to do anything at this point.

    It's got the best TV deal in college athletics, a money-making conference championship game and a great business model for the future.

    Who needs the headache of having to deal with the Longhorn Network?

    Apparently, not Larry Scott.

SEC

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    The SEC has officially welcomed Texas A&M as its 13th member, just as long as Baylor and no other Big 12 schools threaten legal action.

    The Aggies’ arrival means that the conference now has an unbalanced number of teams in its two divisions.

    The SEC is the most powerful conference in college football, and it certainly doesn’t need to keep expanding, but balancing out the field of play could be a good idea.

    The No. 1 target for the 14th spot sounds like it's Missouri, but we’ll have to wait and see if that actually comes to fruition.