Recent realignment news lends itself to this next college football scenario. We are going less elite with this one but still somewhat elite as the Power Five conferences would still have the lion’s share of the better games and better odds of making it to the College Football Playoff…which is exactly the way it is now so maybe it isn’t as much of a difference as I thought. Anyway…
The Big XII has decided against expansion for now (as far as we know). It has also decided not to create a Big XII Network in some form or fashion (again, as far as we know). Not saying this may not happen a few years down the road but at least for 2016 (and probably 2017) that is off the table.
In my opinion, this could spell doom for the Big XII Conference and this time, IT’S REAL! Unlike the last time when Texas kind of played a bit of grab-ass with the (then) Pac-10, I have a feeling it’s their Red River brethren from Norman who will cast the first stone this time. It makes sense that Oklahoma made a lot of noise about the need to expand and get a conference network going sooner rather than later. All this noise will lend credence to the Sooners playing the martyr and being denied by big, bad Texas (and their minions, TCU and Texas Tech). This may allow the Sooners an out from the Grant of Rights. They could make the argument that they tried to improve the conference and were stonewalled and have no choice but to leave the conference. Speculation for sure but it’s not as far-fetched as other rumours out there in college football world.
So saying all that, this scenario explores the end of the Big XII. We would be down to 4 conferences and those conferences would all expand to 16 teams. Where would the Big XII teams all go? That’s an interesting question and there’s no guarantee that they all stay in the Power Five conferences. Here is how I see the conferences looking when this happens:
|Oklahoma||Ohio State||USC||Virginia Tech|
|LSU||Kansas State||Stanford||West Virginia|
|Georgia||Penn State||Oklahoma State||Georgia Tech|
|Tennessee||Iowa||Texas Tech||Boston College|
|Texas A&M||Minnesota||Oregon State||Pittsburgh|
|Missouri||Purdue||Arizona State||North Carolina|
|American||Mountain West||Conference USA||MAC||Sun Belt|
|Marshall||Boise State||Rice||Toledo||Georgia Southern|
|Southern Miss||BYU||Western Kentucky||Northern Illinois||Appalachian State|
|East Carolina||Air Force||UAB||Bowling Green||Troy|
|Houston||Iowa State||Middle Tennessee||Western Michigan||Arkansas State|
|Navy||Baylor||North Texas||Ohio||South Alabama|
|UCF||North Dakota State||UTSA||Central Michigan||ULM|
|Louisiana Tech||Colorado State||Florida Atlantic||Ball State||Texas State|
|Tulsa||San Diego State||Old Dominion||Army|
|San Jose State|
The SEC would make the first move here, bringing in Oklahoma and Florida State, two of the top five teams of the last two decades. This would make the SEC the premiere conference in college football without a doubt. This may happen before 2020 the way things are going in the Big XII. After Boomer Sooner leaves the Big XII, expect the Big Ten to add two with Kansas and their brother, Kansas State. This gives the B1G one great football team and one great basketball team to add to the conference.
Texas, of course, would immediately want to move somewhere but now there would be only one place to go and that’s the new Pac-16. They would take their little cousins, TCU and Texas Tech, along with Oklahoma State, who was left behind by Oklahoma to figure things out for themselves. While this is all happening, it kind of means the writing is on the wall for Notre Dame as an independent. They quickly join the ACC but only if the ACC can bring in at least one quality team. They do with West Virginia (who should have been in that conference in the first place). To make for even numbers they also invite Cincinnati.
Sorry for Iowa State and Baylor as they are the odd programs out. If this entire mess at Baylor hadn’t happened, it would have made for interesting selections. This just means it’s the nail in the coffin for the boys from Waco. Iowa State is an easy out. The other two teams I feel bad for in this scenario would be Boise State and BYU who are two of the three next teams up to the Power Five in any realignment that doesn’t involve contraction (Cincinnati being the other). There is just simply no room in this scenario without kicking another program out which I cannot see happening.
As for the Group of Five, they are still five although two conferences are clearly above the other three. The American Conference loses Cincinnati to the ACC but adds Marshall, Southern Miss, and Louisiana Tech to move to 14 teams. Even better off is the Mountain West. They lose nobody and get Iowa State and Baylor from the old Big XII, plus BYU and North Dakota State. Very good adds. The idea of independent football is probably gone with any major realignment I’m sure which means BYU and Notre Dame would have had to have found new homes for their football teams.
Conference USA and the Sun Belt are now smaller conferences which is probably fine for them. Just a few too many teams to amalgamate although that has to come to someone’s mind in the next decade. The MAC adds Army who may end up being somewhat competitive in this new conference (unlike their disastrous run back in Conference USA years ago). Idaho has already gone down to the FCS. Joining them would be New Mexico State, UMass, and Eastern Michigan. All teams who should go down anyway (although there’s probably a list of at least ten programs who probably should drop down).
As for television, this could be the split they want to keep things going on their end since TV and Internet will be quite different at that point than they are now. Here’s how I see it shaking out:
- The top game each week for each conference would shake out like so:
- CBS – SEC
- ABC – Pac-12
- FOX – Big Ten
- NBC – ACC
- NBC would always show a Notre Dame home game but this might not always be the best ACC game of the week.
- ESPN would probably get the next four selections after the games of the week are selected.
- The four networks would all get a second choice at the very least (and in ABC’s case, a third).
- ESPN picks up games for ESPN2 and ESPNU next.
- FOX Sports One gets to pick last and basically gets mostly Pac-12 and Big Ten affairs.
- As for the Group of Five, CBS Sports Network would make sure to get the Mountain West and American games of the week. ESPNEWS, ASN, and FSN would pick up whatever they can get to fill their schedules. ESPN3 would get most of the rest.
- The SEC Network, Big Ten Network, and Pac-12 Network would probably cease to exist as it is right now. Either that or they would get the second set of selections after the games of the week were gone and everything else would fall in place as it is stated above.
As per usual, Canadians wouldn’t be really affected although making sure all of us can get SEC Network, Big Ten Network, Pac-12 Network, FOX Sports One, and various ESPN games on some sort of a specialty pack would be of paramount importance to any fans north of the border. To be honest, with the amount of college football I watch (14+ hours on Saturdays I don’t have my kids…yeah I’m obsessed), I would gladly take a package that includes as many FBS games as possible and I would pay a premium for it. I don’t watch much other TV so that would be a good portion of my cost for the year. Thanks to the CRTC that will never happen but hey, a guy can dream.
Alright, next up will be the third scenario. Also, I will be starting up the posts highlighting the most important games of the season soon enough. I just got my first college football preview magazine, the Athlon one. My Phil Steele magazine should come late in the month and I’ll probably pick up Lindy’s as well since I can get it at Chapters pretty easily. Starting to get set. Starting to get a bit excited. Thank god college football is almost back!