College Football: What a 4 Superconference Model Would Look Like

David Luther@@davidrlutherFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2012

College Football: What a 4 Superconference Model Would Look Like

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    With Texas A&M and Missouri set to begin play in the SEC this fall and TCU and West Virginia's defection to the Big 12, it seems inevitable that conference realignment won't end with these major moves.

    The Big East is in serious trouble of collapsing, the ACC is scrambling to get long-term commitments from its members, the Big 12 is drooling over the prospect of regaining the right to host a conference championship game, and the SEC, Big Ten, and Pac-12 are sitting back, waiting to see what happens next.

    Beyond the current BCS Automatic Qualifiers, Boise State and Nevada have left the WAC for the Mountain West, and BYU has gone independent. There's also the addition of four new FBS programs for 2012 (Texas State, Texas-San Antonio, South Alabama, and Massachusetts).

    From the beginning of the conference realignment (Colorado and Nebraska leaving the Big 12), there's been talk of creating four “superconferences” in college football, helping along the notion of a true national championship at season's end.

    What would this model look like and how would it function? Who would be invited to join and who would be left out?

    Here's our glimpse into the future with a four superconference model for college football.

Texas A&M

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    Previous Home: Big 12

    New Home: SEC

    We're going to start with the most recent university to announce their change in conference affiliation. Texas A&M has left the Big 12 to join the SEC.

    First, this is a major coup for the SEC. It gives the conference their first foothold in Texas, and it's a big one.

    Texas A&M is a major program that can draw top recruits from the state of Texas. It also opens up the Texas television markets to the SEC, which will in turn open up the recruiting of young Texas stars to places like Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, and Tennessee.

    It's also likely that A&M's move will be the first in a mass exodus of the Big 12's top programs.

Texas Tech

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    Current Home: Big 12

    Future Home: SEC

    In a major conference realignment into superconferences, Texas Tech is likely to follow A&M into the SEC.

    For the most part, the major Texas programs will stick together as much as possible. While it's easy to get caught up in football (since that's the big sport on campus), one must keep in mind that many of these schools offer somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 varsity sports. While football is king, basketball, baseball, and the rest have their own requirements, rivalries, fan bases, et cetera.

    We'll probably see Tech attempt to stay as close to Texas and Texas A&M as is feasible.


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    Current Home: Big 12

    Future Home: Independent?

    If there's one team in the Big 12 that can make athletic independence work—even in a superconference world—it has to be Texas.

    The issue for Texas probably isn't so much their “go it alone” attitude, but rather The Longhorn Network has basically painted Texas into a corner.

    ESPN and Texas signed a television contract with an absolutely ridiculous term—20 years—that effectively ends UT's involvement in any current or future conference network.

    ESPN and Texas announced the contract around the same time the Big 12 was attempting to garner support for a conference network. Obviously, Texas would be a major draw to the proposed Big 12 Network. After all, where would the Big Ten Network be if Michigan or Ohio State decided they didn't want to be involved?

    When the death of the Big 12 finally arrives, Texas will be stuck holding the bag. The fact that Texas has its own network means that the Longhorns likely won't participate in any conference network—something that is likely to be required by other major conferences.

    That may prevent Texas from receiving an invite, or Texas would likely reject an invite that came with the requirement that UT dumps the Longhorn Network.

    One little caveat: the current contract between ESPN and UT does specify certain “escape” clauses should the Big 12 cease to exist or Texas leaves the conference.

    ESPN and Texas have already suffered a blow to TLN. Originally, the network was slated to air as many as 18 Texas high school football games.

    However, the other Big 12 schools cried foul, claiming it would be an “improper benefit” by directing high school athletes to Austin. The belief was TLN would show games in which Longhorns-targeted prospects were playing in an effort to woo said player(s).

    As it turns out, the NCAA agrees. In an August 2011 ruling, the NCAA has banned the broadcast of any high school game, event, or programming on any NCAA team- or conference-based network.


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    Current Home: Big 12

    Future Home: Pac-12

    There have already been rumors in the past about Oklahoma moving west.

    It once appeared that the Big 12 was headed for collapse. Now that the conference has seemingly stabilized, OU probably won't be going anywhere unless or until a new superconference model appears.

    Oklahoma is a major program in every sense of the word, and they're not going to get stuck waiting around until every girl has a date to the big dance. The Pac-12 is wooing, and the Sooners are making sure their best suit is cleaned and pressed.

    If it appears the superconference model is imminent, expect Oklahoma to be one of the programs to lead the way.

Oklahoma State

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    Current Home: Big 12

    Future Home: Pac-12

    If OU heads to the Pac-12, you can expect Oklahoma State to do whatever is required to secure their own bid to join the ballooning Pacific conference.

    While the Big 12 has been good to the Cowboys, OSU football (and pretty much every other sport) just wouldn't be the same without the annual OU rivalry.

    Oklahoma State knows this, Oklahoma knows this, and the Pac-12 knows this.

    It would be shocking if the Cowboys weren't invited to join the new western superconference shortly after OU announces the move.


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    Current Home: Big 12

    Future Home: Mid-major irrelevancy

    This won't come as a galloping shock to anyone (other than perhaps a few Baylor fans), but the Big 12 has been better for Baylor than Baylor has been for the Big 12.

    Face it: the Bears get more than their money's worth from membership in a conference that includes programs like Texas and Oklahoma.

    Much like Northwestern and the Big Ten, or NC State and the ACC, the Bears are typically out-classed in every meaningful metric of competition. While the program enjoyed a recent upswing thanks to Robert Griffin III, there just isn't the fan base requisite of a move to the projected superconferences.

    The SEC won't take the Bears. The Pac-12 won't take the Bears. What are we left with? Probably a new “mid-major” superconference (a Conference USA-MWC-WAC merger, perhaps).


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    Previous Home: Big 12

    Current Home: SEC

    Future Home: Big Ten

    Missouri was widely rumored to be one of several candidates for Big Ten expansion last year—a spot that eventually went to Nebraska. When the music stopped, Missouri thought it would be left without a chair, so it took the open SEC-East spot created by the addition of Texas A&M to the West Division.

    But Missouri really does seem like an odd fit for the SEC.

    The Big Ten, almost since its inception, has been a conference of big, old institutions with massive endowments, snooty academic reputations, and holier-than-thou attitudes towards other universities and conferences. In essence, it's the closest thing the FBS has to a public school version of the Ivy League. They may not always be the best of the field of competition, but there's no argument about the level of academics or the massive size of their endowments.

    When Nebraska was added to the conference, the Big Ten took a step away from that pipe-smoking, arm chair aura, and took a step closer to modernizing.

    Nebraska ranked 11th of the 12 Big Ten schools in terms of endowment (only Iowa is smaller). Nebraska is also the second smallest school in terms of enrollment (only private Northwestern is smaller), and is half the size of the top three in the conference (Ohio State, Minnesota, and Michigan State). Only two Big Ten schools (Purdue and Northwestern) offer fewer varsity sports.

    Admission to Nebraska is also a bit easier than many other Big Ten schools. Recent ACT score releases from the universities show Nebraska accepting the lowest scores composite ACT scores (22 for the 25th percentile, compared to an average of 25 among the other 11 schools, and a top score of 31 for the 25th percentile at Northwestern and 27 at Michigan).

    So why is this good for Nebraska, Missouri, and the Big Ten as a whole?

    Simple, really. The Big Ten should be getting away from the Ivy-esque attitudes of the past. No one would argue that Nebraska is a bad university. Quite the contrary. The Big Ten still won't be admitting the Chicago School of Basket-weaving and Carburetor Repair anytime soon.

    But Missouri is much more similar to Nebraska in terms of money and academics than it is to Michigan or Northwestern—and the football culture jives better with the northern schools than it does with Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Florida, or Georgia.


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    Current Home: Big 12

    Future Home: Big Ten

    The Big Ten might deny it, and they might actually be telling the truth from their point of view, but Kansas will eventually end up in the Big Ten.

    There are a couple of reasons this is a likely outcome. First, the Big Ten made their intentions known by inviting Nebraska. The trend is west, not east. While the Big Ten may also look towards the east to find future members, for now the focus is on expanding westward.

    Kansas and Missouri is a rivalry worth having, and the Jayhawks will want to keep in step with Missouri.

    There's also the appeal of the Jayhawks playing basketball in the Big Ten. KU's basketball program is no slouch, and the Big Ten is one of the top three or four basketball conferences in the nation. Who wouldn't enjoy seeing KU take on MSU, Purdue, or Wisconsin a couple of times every season? How much fun would a Big Ten basketball tournament be with the addition of Kansas?

    Thought so.

Kansas State

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    Current Home: Big 12

    Future Home: Big Ten

    As goes Kansas, so goes Kansas State. It's just that simple.

    The Wildcats will be looking to stick with their in-state cousins and Missouri, and reigniting relations with Nebraska will be enticing as well.

    In actuality, it's likely that Missouri-Kansas-Kansas State will likely come as a all-or-none deal for the Big Ten. These three schools made their feelings known when Nebraska was being courted by the Big Ten. Since the fate of the Big 12 is effectively out of their hands now, it's time to put the hard feelings aside, and kiss and make up with the Big Ten.

Iowa State

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    Current Home: Big 12

    Future Home: Uncertain (possibly Big Ten)

    Iowa State is a bit of a wild card in the Big 12.

    It's entirely possible that the Big Ten will simply invite the Cyclones to the new Midwestern superconference simply out of pity or continuity. Iowa probably wouldn't mind having the Cy-Hawk game be a conference game. The Cyclones could certainly use the added exposure. And the Big Ten is, as we've pointed out earlier, trying to be more inclusive. What better gesture than to include a program that isn't nearly as storied as Nebraska, Missouri, or even Kansas and Kansas State?

    The alternative is relegation to the “mid-major” superconference—which we'll cover in due time.

The Big Ten, Part I: Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State

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    Since we've talked about the Big Ten taking many of the eastern-most teams of the Big 12, we'll quickly run down this soon-to-be superconference.

    The Big Ten's membership is probably one of the more stable memberships in the nation. The conference is as old as dirt, and it has an incredibly strong membership base with huge, tradition-rich programs that have seemingly endless supplies of resources. All these factors make this a “once in, never out” conference. The University of Chicago found that out the hard way.


    Current Home: Big Ten

    Future Home: Big Ten

    U-M is one of the Big Ten flagship programs with an alumni and fan base that is almost unmatched in football, or any other sport, for that matter. The Maize and Blue are a bastion of the Big Ten, and will remain so for many, many decades to come.

    Ohio State

    Current Home: Big Ten

    Future Home: Big Ten

    As much as people in Columbus hate “that school up north,” most are pragmatic enough to realize that Ohio State wouldn't be where it is today without those pesky people in Ann Arbor.

    After all, who is Woody Hayes without Bo Schembechler? Can any Ohio State fan honestly say that a season is complete without a win over Michigan?

    Michigan is staying put, and Ohio State will stay put, too, if only to continue to bother the Michigan folk.

    Penn State

    Current Home: Big Ten

    Future Home: Big Ten

    The newest member of the Big Ten prior to Nebraska has found itself fitting in quite nicely with the conference.

    Prior to joining the Big Ten, Penn State was a football independent, and had its fair share of success. But if you're a football independent not named Notre Dame, it might be hard to find yourself in that choice bowl game or playing for a national championship without the rigors of a conference schedule.

    However, because of Penn State's history, if there's one school at all likely to entertain offers from an eastern conference, it's probably PSU. But we'd have to see it to believe it.

    Penn State, just from a football culture standpoint, fits perfectly with the Big Ten.

    Michigan State

    Current Home: Big Ten

    Future Home: Big Ten

    A few years ago, Michigan running back Mike Hart raised the hackles of pretty much every Spartans fan in the world by calling MSU the “little brother.”

    Sparty may be getting his laughs now (having knocked off Michigan every year since), but the statement—classless as it was—is at least partially true in a sense.

    While we wouldn't go around calling MSU Michigan's “little brother,” the Spartans are definitely dependent on the Wolverines.

    Michigan State football without a game against Michigan?

    Michigan State hockey without games against Michigan?

    Michigan State basketball without games against Michigan?

    Michigan State [insert any sport here] without games against Michigan?

    You get the drift. The fact of the matter is MSU needs U-M. Each season, the Michigan-Michigan State game is best attended, most-watched game of the year—in pretty much every sport.

    Michigan State without Michigan would be like... Cal without Stanford. UCLA without USC. Duke without North Carolina.

The Big Ten, Part II: Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern

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    Current Home: Big Ten

    Future Home: Big Ten

    Yeah, so Indiana isn't exactly the football mecca of the FBS. That doesn't mean IU isn't a valued member of the conference.

    Of the three major football programs in the state (Indiana, Notre Dame, Purdue), Indiana is probably bringing up the rear in terms of prestige. The state's top recruits aren't flocking to IU, but the university provides the conference with stiff competition in many other sports.

    While football isn't a strength, the Hoosier Nation is a proud bunch, and they have a storied past in the Big Ten.


    Current Home: Big Ten

    Future Home: Big Ten

    The Boilermakers haven't had the kind of Big Ten season the fans would like to see in quite some time.

    Gone are the days of Drew Brees, Bump Elliot, and Joe Tiller.

    The Boilers haven't won a Big Ten title since 2000, and the immediate future doesn't look any brighter. But that doesn't mean Purdue isn't well respected in the conference. The “Cradle of Quarterbacks” has fielded some great teams over the decades, and the smart money is on the Boilers bouncing back eventually.

    When they do, they'll still be members of the Big Ten


    Current Home: Big Ten

    Future Home: Big Ten

    Like Purdue and Indiana, Big Ten titles have been few and far between. Unlike the Boilermakers and Hoosiers, the Fighting Illini have earned a trip to Pasadena as recently as the 2008 Rose Bowl.

    Things have cooled off lately in Urbana, but the Illini are comfortable in their conference home, and won't be making a move anytime soon.


    Current Home: Big Ten

    Future Home: Big Ten

    As the only private school in the Big Ten, Northwestern holds a unique place. Not only does Northwestern have a monstrous endowment, their academic standards are amongst the highest in the nation, to say nothing of the conference.

    In Evanston, the term “student-athlete” is about as true as it gets in the FBS, and the Wildcats have been surprisingly successful given their “academics first” mentality.

    Northwestern hasn't won a bowl game since the 1949 Rose Bowl, but with three straight bowl berths from 2008-2010, which included two overtime losses, it seems as if Pat Fitzgerald's squad is on the verge of breaking through any year now.

    Northwestern has been a member of the Big Ten for a century, and that won't change anytime soon.

The Big Ten, Part III: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska

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    Current Home: Big Ten

    Future Home: Big Ten

    If anything, Wisconsin's commitment to the Big Ten was made even stronger by the addition of Nebraska. The addition of other “western” schools could further cement Wisconsin's place in the Big Ten.


    Current Home: Big Ten

    Future Home: Big Ten

    Minnesota was once the geographical outlier, like Penn State, only at the opposite end of the compass.

    With the addition of Nebraska, Minnesota doesn't feel so lonely all the way out west, and the possible addition of Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, and Missouri would create an instant western series of conference rivalries.

    Now if only Minnesota could find a way to win a few football games...


    Current Home: Big Ten

    Future Home: Big Ten

    The addition of Nebraska to the conference, and the potential addition of Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, and Missouri will give the Hawkeyes plenty of new conference rivals to look forward to each season.

    Iowa is one of the most difficult environments for opposing teams, and a program as strong as Iowa's is bound to break through and earn a trip back to Pasadena before long. Iowa hasn't traveled to the Rose Bowl since 1991.


    Current Home: Big Ten

    Future Home: Big Ten

    When Nebraska announced it was leaving the Big 12 for the Big Ten, it was the first major domino to fall in what is sure to be a seismic shift in the landscape of college football.

    Unlike the move of Colorado and Utah, the move was one of a traditional and current football power. The Big Ten was instantly strengthened, and the Big 12 weakened by the move.

    When other programs around the nation saw how seamlessly the Cornhuskers were integrated into the over-a-century-old fabric of the Big Ten, you could almost hear the wheels begin to turn.

    Now that there have been four conference moves (Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, BYU) which have all gone off without a hitch, we're likely to see many more in the months and years to come.

    When the dust stirred up by Nebraska settles, the entire college football world will be nearly unrecognizable.


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    By now, every college football fan knows Texas A&M and Missouri will be part of the SEC in 2012.

    The SEC, like the Big Ten, has an amazingly stable membership (of the schools that are long-term members). Even those not considered SEC football powers aren't even contemplating bolting the conference in their wildest dreams.

    The prospect of having your head figuratively kicked in every Saturday is mitigated by the prestigious benefits that come with being a member of the SEC. Not to mention the other college sports that might not be such an embarrassment. Tennessee is apparently pretty good at softball.

    The twelve “old” members of the conference can be summed up in two words: locked in.

    Additionally, programs currently in the SEC-West are drooling over the opportunity to extend their rather sizable recruiting mandibles into the great state of Texas, now that A&M is on its way into the fold.

    If more power programs are added to a new superconference SEC, there's one thing we can all count on: SEC fans will become even more insufferable. It's shocking to even think that's possible.

    We won't look at every SEC program here, but there are a few areas in which we need to take note.


    Current Home: SEC

    Future Home: SEC

    The Tigers are one of the top tier SEC programs, which puts them in the top tier of national powerhouses. It's a little scary to think what LSU could begin to do when Les Miles starts taking recruiting trips deep in the heart of Texas.

    Alabama and Auburn

    Current Home: SEC

    Future Home: SEC

    These two schools, as much as the fan bases hate one another, are intrinsically linked. Like Michigan and Ohio State, each is made better by the other (whether Tide and Tigers fans will admit that or not), and together, these two programs form the cultural heart of the SEC.


    Current Home: SEC

    Future Home: SEC

    The Bulldogs have seemingly fallen on hard times, but when you play the type of schedules Georgia has been planning, you're bound to lose a few bad breaks.

    Whether or not the future of the program will be under the direction of Mark Richt is yet to be determined, but one thing is for sure: UGA is a solid and permanent member of the SEC.

The Big East

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    This current BCS Automatic Qualifying conference is the real wild card in the conference realignment game. The Big East is in serious trouble as more and more teams beat a path to the exit doors, and it's doubtful the conference will retain its AQ status when the new BCS format takes hold in 2014.

    In reality, the Big East is an absolutely monstrous conference—the nation's largest Division I athletic conference.

    From a football standpoint, however, the conference is easily the weakest of the AQ conferences, and is by far the smallest. So many of the Big East's schools are “Division I-AAA,” meaning they don't sport a football team at all, or field FCS programs as “football-only” members of various FCS conferences.

    The conference had added TCU for the 2012 season, but the Horned Frogs quickly saw the writing on the wall and withdrew their application in favor of a move to the Big 12. Now, it might be too little, too late for the Big East no matter who the conference convinces to join.

    The trend is definitely towards football superconferences, and the Big East just cannot support adding an additional eight-or-so teams. That would balloon the non-football sports to an unmanageable 24+ teams. Imagine figuring out that basketball schedule.

    With the majority of Big East programs not sponsoring football, and one—Notre Dame—opting to keep their football program independent of the Big East's clutches, it's possible that we could see the Big East dump football as a sponsored sport altogether.

    As radical as that sounds, it's not that far-fetched. There are more than a few FCS, Division II, and Division III conferences that operate in such a manner.

    What we could then see in the east is a re-acquaintance of traditional rivals separated by the Big East defections to the ACC a number of years ago. The Big East football schools joining the ACC in football only could create a new superconference we'll refer to as the Super East for now.


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    Previous Home: MWC / Big East (for about a month)

    Current Home: Big 12

    Texas Christian really jumped the gun and inadvertently screwed over the Big East by joing the conference only to leave before becoming an official member.

    While nothing really changed for the Big East, the perception was a nightmare.

    We could say the Big 12 really messed up by not inviting TCU the second Nebraska and Colorado hinted at a conference exit, but all's well that ends well, right?

    It's not like TCU was an also-ran program that languished alongside other Texas programs like Houston, UTEP, or Rice. TCU was winning games and earning BCS berths. It seemed a match made in Texas.

    The addition of TCU may have even quieted the Big 12 defection craze, at least in the short term.

    As long as the Big 12 exists in its current form, you can bet TCU will be a member.

West Virginia

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    Previous Home: Big East

    Current Home: Big 12

    Future Home: Super East

    There's probably no current or former Big East team that would benefit from a merger with the ACC into a superconference more than West Virginia.

    The Mountaineers hit a bit of a rough patch when Rich Rodriguez took his “talents” to Michigan, but Dana Holgorsen now has the program back up and humming along through the hills of Appalachia.

    What has hurt WVU was the perceived lack of a tough conference schedule. With the move to the Big 12, that's no longer an issue.

    But if a new eastern superconference were created, would West Virginia come back east, or would it follow its new conference mates further west?

South Florida

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    Current Home: Big East

    Future Home: Uncertain

    Why is USF's future uncertain?

    An up-and-comer like South Florida should be a lock for the new “Super East,” right?

    As Coach Corso is (too) fond of saying, “Not so fast, my friend.” There's a little hitch to this storyline.

    While it's probably likely that USF finds its way into a new Super East conference, there's an outside chance that the Bulls could find themselves headed into the SEC superconference.

    The instant reaction of the SEC fans as they read this will tell you what the main problem with that move would be.

    “No way would the SEC every take a program like South Florida!”

    Okay. Why not? By win percentage, USF is the winningest program in the Big East.

    Since joining the Big East in 2005, USF has never failed to earn a bowl berth.

    Since starting the program in 1997, USF has quickly built from a start-up FCS program into a program that hasn't finished with fewer than eight wins since 2005.

    Over the past several seasons, the list of teams that USF has beaten includes Florida State, Miami (FL), Kansas, Clemson, and Auburn.

    So before you SEC fans so quickly dismiss USF, ask yourself this question: “Would the SEC benefit from another Florida program?”

    The honest answer is definitely “yes!”


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    Current Home: Big East

    Future Home: ACC

    Syracuse presents an interesting case study in perennial expectations never attained.

    The Orange are one of the only college football programs in the state of New York, to say nothing of FBS programs. One would think that Syracuse could attract top talent year in and year out. But when Rutgers, a school much closer to New York City than Syracuse, can't manage to lure the top recruits, what chance does Syracuse have?

    About as much chance as landing in the new Super East.

    Syracuse just doesn't draw a fan base like some other potential Super East teams, and the tradition of mediocrity probably won't be creating too many new non-alumni fans. This lack of fan base translates into a weaker viewership. That, in turn, means less money generated for the conference.

    The move to the ACC definably helps the Orange in terms of stature, but there's legitimate concern about Syracuse's prospects at winning in its new conference. After all, if the Orange can't win in the Big East, can they really be expected to excel in the ACC?


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    The ACC is a powerhouse in basketball, and that alone will keep the conference mostly together.

    There are, however, a few possible defections, especially in the southern part of the conference with the SEC just a stone's throw away.

    While you can count on most of the ACC's teams finding their way into the new Super East conference, there are two very likely candidates to slide out of the ACC and into an SEC superconference... and it's probably no secret what two schools we're talking about.

Miami (FL)

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    Current Home: ACC

    Future Home: SEC

    First, a premise. Ignore all of the scandal-oriented noise and the probably false rumors about the Hurricanes entertaining a move to the Big 12.

    We're going to assume that by the time the superconferences come into existence, Miami will have dealt with its self-inflicted shame in a manner that satisfies the NCAA and any new potential conference home.

    Now that we have that out of the way, let's see why Miami would end up in the SEC superconference.

    One absolutely cannot discount the importance of the in-state feud in Florida. While it's cooled a bit over the past few seasons, it's likely to heat up again with Florida State's reemergence on the national scene. If Miami can follow suit, you'll have three national powerhouses looking to slug it out each season—Florida, Florida State, and Miami.

    What a dream it would be to put those three teams in the same conference!

    Could you just imagine a three-way rivalry every season with all three teams involved? That's the kind of things Florida football dreams are made of!

    There's also the added bonus of adding the Miami television to the SEC's growing list of impressive and lucrative markets.

Florida State

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    Current Home: ACC

    Future Home: SEC

    As we stated with Miami, the joining of the three big Florida programs just seems natural—and long, long overdue.

    This move would actually affect Florida State the least. The Seminoles already play both the Gators and the Hurricanes every season. The real change would come when you exchange games against Duke for games against Alabama, or games against NC State for games against Georgia.

    Come to think of it, why doesn't Florida State play Georgia these days? Both are supposed to be good southern programs, right? This potential rivalry should have been started years ago.

The Pac-12

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    Don't think that we forgot about the conference out west.

    Even though the Big 12 seems to have stabilized with the addition of TCU and West Virginia, don't be surprised if the Pac-12 kicks the expansion idea into overdrive if there appears to be a big push towards superconferences.

    As we've seen over the past year or so, it looks like Oklahoma, and potentially Oklahoma State could make the jump to the west coast, and rejoin Colorado in a new Pacific superconference.

    The current Pac-12 would probably jump at the chance to expand into the country's heartland. As much as USC fans try to argue, the Trojans just aren't a national recruiting power. How many Texas or Oklahoma or Nebraska kids do you find on the typical USC roster?

    Not many.

    Of course, the other side of that coin is that USC pretty well has its hands full with all of the five-star, high school All-America talent in the Golden State.

    But what about the other Pac-12 schools? We're pretty sure they'd like a chance to gobble up some of those big corn-fed buffet busters from the breadbasket of America.


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    Current Home: Pac-12

    Future Home: Pac-12

    The Huskies are staying put.

    While UW isn't exactly a power in the conference these days (even Jake Locker couldn't pull them up to the top tier of the conference), there is tradition at Washington. An expanded recruiting base and television audience may be just the thing the Huskies need to reinvigorate the program.

Washington State

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    Current Home: Pac-12

    Future Home: Pac-12

    As absolutely terrible as WSU has been, their position in the conference is secure. And with Mike Leach taking over as head coach, who knows what might happen in Pullman.

    It's easy to take a completely football-centric view, but that's just not the way the world works 100 percent of the time.

    Washington State may not be piling up the wins on the football field, but they have some traditional rivals in the conference. Doing away with the Cougars would help no one.


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    Current Home: Pac-12

    Future Home: Pac-12

    The Ducks have emerged as one of the budding national powers from the Pac-12. While some might credit their recent success to USC's sanctions-induced coma, it's important to remember that Oregon started this journey several years ago.

    Regardless of the catalyst for Oregon's jump to stardom, it's clear that the Ducks can attract the best recruits in the nation, and USC—even a restored USC—better be mindful of the fact that they're not the class of the Pac-12 anymore... at least, not by themselves.

Oregon State

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    Current Home: Pac-12

    Future Home: Pac-12

    Realistically, where else would the Beavers go?

    Every conference needs the spoilers, and for the Pac-12, the Beavers have been serving in that role for a while now.

    Oregon State isn't threatening to take the conference by storm, and the Rose Bowl is only a far-off fantasy—for now, anyway. But Oregon State has a decent history of knocking off unsuspecting teams that take the Beavers too lightly; every USC fans knows the dangers of a fired-up Oregon State team.

    When you have nothing to lose, there's everything to gain.


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    Current Home: Pac-12

    Future Home: Pac-12

    The Berkeley Bears always seem to be just on the cusp of something great.

    It's been quite some time since the nation got excited about football in Berkeley. There are some positive things happening at Cal, but it's difficult to imagine the Bears keeping pace with Oregon and USC.

    But this traditional member of the Pac-12 has some classic college football rivalries that should never be messed with, and Cal's membership in the Pac-12 puts the Bay Area squarely in the Pac-12's media domination.


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    Current Home: Pac-12

    Future Home: Pac-12

    Andrew Luck's influence on the Stanford program may be felt for years to come, even though he's moved on to the greener field of the NFL.

    Before Luck, the Cardinal hadn't truly had a season of national prominence since they were called the Indians.

    Luck not only brought on-field success to the Cardinal program, but he raised the stature of Stanford to a level where top athletes will take notice. If Stanford comes calling, you probably have a good head on your shoulders, too. Big, strong, fast, and smart?

    Watch out, Pac-12!


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    Current Home: Pac-12

    Future Home: Pac-12

    If Cal and USC aren't moving, UCLA isn't moving. It's just that simple.

    The Bruins are looking to rebuild a program that has fallen on hard times. An expanded Pacific superconference might help with that process.

    In the prime recruiting areas of UCLA, other programs—namely USC—have nearly cornered the market on the best of the best recruits. Opening up the base could help UCLA by bring in some heartland talent, or give UCLA more of a chance in California when USC goes shopping.


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    Current Home: Pac-12

    Future Home: Pac-12

    Don't worry, Trojan fans. You've reached the light at the end of the tunnel.

    The long nightmare created by “number five” and his weasel of a coach is behind you. If there's one thing the rest of the country can count on, it's that USC will be back to being USC in very short order.

    The Trojans are an anchor of the Pac-12, and you can bet that any future superconference will play heavily to the massive USC fan base across the nation.

Arizona State

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    Current Home: Pac-12

    Future Home: Pac-12

    The Sun Devils thought they had found the formula for something special in 2011.

    Even though Arizona State had one of the most promising groups of starters returning from 2010, the Devils fell flat last season, costing head coach Dennis Erickson his job.

    Although Arizona State has been a massive disappointment lately, posting a 21-28 record after the Pac-10 co-championship year of 2007, it's probably not fair to classify the program as completely weak just yet.

    Todd Graham takes over with the task of rebuilding the program into a Rose Bowl Game contender, and with the recruitment ability we've seen out of Tempe before, it's possible the Devils could be back fighting for a Pac-12 South Division title before too long.

    And Arizona State's geography cements its position within any future superconference out west.


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    Current Home: Pac-12

    Future Home: Pac-12

    The Wildcats will remain in the Pac-12 if for no other reason than there's no place else for them to go.

    The athletic program as a whole is very strong, and the football team isn't without quality wins over the past few seasons, either. If Arizona can find its footing under new head coach Rich Rodriguez, a hotly contested rivalry with ASU that actually has some conference and national implications could quickly become one of the best rivalries of the west.


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    Current Home: Pac-12

    Future Home: Pac-12

    The Buffaloes went out on a pretty big limb when they opted to bolt the Big 12 for the Pac-12.

    Colorado isn't exactly “in the neighborhood” of the rest of the conference, and it's likely the Buffs were helped out some by Utah joining the conference at the same time.

    There's the real possibility for a budding new rivalry between the Utes and Buffaloes. It will be interesting to see if Colorado can return to their early-1990's form in their new conference playground.


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    Current Home: Pac-12

    Future Home: Pac-12

    Utah spent so many years as a BCS buster, they finally decided to sell out and join the “bad guys.”

    The phrase “if you can't beat 'em, join 'em” comes to mind, except for the fact that Utah had been beating them (BCS AQ programs, that is) for years, even dismantling mighty Alabama in a BCS bowl not so very long ago.

    Utah has worked so hard to get to this point that there's nothing on the planet that could separate the Utes from their nationally-relevant conference membership now.


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    Current Home: MWC

    Future Home: Pac-12

    Hawai'i. Yes, Hawai'i.

    And why not? If any team can claim the title of a Pacific team, it has to be the Warriors.

    And Hawai'i has its own history of BCS-busting. The Warriors also have more than a few wins over BCS AQ programs, including new Pac-12 program Colorado a couple of seasons ago.

    Because Colorado is new to the Pac-12, it's easy to forget the fact that Colorado has been an AQ program for as long as there have been AQ programs. Although Colorado wasn't winning the Big 12 often (or ever), a win over any AQ program is a feather in the cap of a non-AQ school.

    The Pac-12 would also be attractive for Hawai'i for travel reasons. The Pac-12 would like Hawai'i for much the same reasons. We're not strong believers in recruiting players by saying “you get to play Team X every year...”

    Unless that team happens to be in Hawai'i.

    Plus, Hawai'i's recent move from the WAC to the MWC shows that the Warriors aren't afraid of making a switch if they feel it's in their best interest.

Boise State

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    Current Home: Mountain West

    Future Home: Pac-12

    It's time for BCS snobs to face facts: Boise State is a darn good program. Did your team have an umpteen year home conference unbeaten streak? Didn't think so.

    Does your team have 73 victories since the start of the 2006 season? Didn't think so.

    Does your team deal with consistent snubbing by the BCS with poise and class? Didn't think so (mainly because if your team wins, you don't get snubbed).

    For years now, BCS-philes have been saying Boise State needs to prove itself. Well, let's give them the chance to do just that!

    So many BCS AQ programs are afraid to put the Broncos on the schedule. At least Virginia Tech, Georgia, and Michigan State have the cajones to invite the Broncos to town (and in MSU's case, the Spartans are headed out to Boise a few years down the road).

    So it's time to put up or shut up. The new superconferences scheme just won't work if programs like Boise State are left out...


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    If your team isn't a current member of a BCS AQ conference, and they're not mentioned herein or rumored to be making the move to a BCS AQ conference, the chances are pretty high that you'll find your team landing in the to-be-determined “mid major” superconferences (some sort of mix between Conference USA, MWC, Sun Belt, WAC, and MAC).

    While we're in for a very turbulent couple of seasons, in the end, the Football Bowl Subdivision should emerge stronger, with a much more logical postseason set up.

    Four superconferences create a much fairer BCS playoff system; win your conference, get a playoff spot. And since we'll be talking about large superconferences, the conference championship games will in essence become the first round of the new playoff system.

    The imposition of a BCS playoff in 2014 is likely to quiet the calls for conference realignment in the short term, but the moment a “deserving” team is left out of the new system, expect the conference jumping to begin again in earnest.

    Hunker down, hang on, and make sure you have plenty of canned goods. It's going to be one heckuva ride!