We are at the end of the scenarios. The last one. And arguably the most extreme. The most predicated on what I believe should happen in a mostly ideal scenario. I will be honest here: all this will not happen. Saying that, some of these occurrences may happen but the idea that all of them could is probably a no-go. I’ve seen many “fantasy” conference realignments in the past and many of them are not just improbable (like this one) but also completely dumb and may make no semblance of sense (unlike this one). So let’s jump in, shall we? Spoiler alert: this will be a long post.
Now we all know that there is a distinct divide between the Power Five and Group of Five conferences. Some teams are wanting to sneak into the P5 whereas others are holding on for their Go5 lives. Issues with the Big XII and ACC are going on almost every day.
Because of all this, I am implementing something fairly drastic. First off, the top conferences will be on their own. Their own bowls and they will be the only ones with access to the College Football Playoff. The amount of teams in this “new” Power Five will increase so no real worries there. It allows for more elite-on-elite games throughout the season than there is at this moment. The amount of conferences in the top tier will be eight. The biggest change will be the complete blow-up of the Big XII. Welcome back the Big Eight and the Southwest Conference (golf clap). As much as we hope Texas and Oklahoma want to play and get along and share the sandbox, they really don’t. They want their own sandboxes or bigger portions of a conference sandbox. So might as well split them up. Yes they love their Red River Rivalry matchup but that’s where it ends really.
Here’s the new conference lineup, followed by the steps I took to get there:
|Alabama||Ohio State||USC||Florida State|
|Georgia||Notre Dame||UCLA||Georgia Tech|
|Auburn||Penn State||Oregon State||NC State|
|Tennessee||Michigan State||Arizona State||North Carolina|
|Texas A&M||Iowa||Washington||Wake Forest|
|South Carolina||Minnesota||California||East Carolina|
|Mississippi State||Northwestern||Washington State||UCF|
|Big 8||SWC||American||Mountain West|
|Oklahoma||Texas||Virginia Tech||Boise State|
|Oklahoma State||Texas Tech||Boston College||Air Force|
|Colorado||Houston||Virginia||North Dakota State|
|Iowa State||Tulsa||Maryland||Colorado State|
|Kansas||New Mexico||Cincinnati||San Diego State|
|Connecticut||San Jose State|
I kind of wish I had those terrible IKEA characters to put in here…you know the ones that say lift in pairs, don’t lean certain things against a wall, and don’t stab yourself with the Allen key (or hex key for you people who just want to be insufferable cocks).
- Split the Big XII into the Big 8 and the SWC. Oklahoma and Texas each get their own conferences now.
- Re-create the Big Eight as it was before becoming the Big XII. I think it wouldn’t be a major issue to get Nebraska out of the Big Ten and Missouri out of the SEC if there wouldn’t be as much of a hit to their per-team revenue.
- As for the SWC, all the old members are back except one: Texas A&M. I’m sure they’d rather crawl on broken glass while naked than go back into a conference with the Longhorns. To fill out the conference (but keep the southwest feel), they invite New Mexico, UTEP, and UTSA.
- The SEC loses Arkansas and Missouri but does not add replacements for them. Texas A&M isn’t as much of an outlier with LSU next door and now TV revenue is split only twelve ways. The conference is not really hurt by this at all.
- To replace Nebraska, the Big Ten grabs Notre Dame. As I’ve said before, Independent Football is probably all but dead with the next major round of realignment.
- The Mountain West, now a “major” conference, gets Utah back from the Pac-12. Despite recent success, the Utes (along with Colorado) don’t seem like a program that will ever fully fit in with the Pac-whatever number it is. The only way this would change is if they went on a sustained run of success.
- The Pac-12, losing Utah and Colorado, go back to being called the Pac-10. All we need now is Keith Jackson calling their games on ABC and all will be right with the world.
- The ACC and American also do a bit of a shuffle. The American becomes more of the northeast conference (think old Big East minus Miami) whereas the ACC goes south of Virginia. Makes sense geographically. So the ACC gets East Carolina, USF, UCF, and Memphis in exchange for Virginia Tech, Virginia, Boston College, Louisville, and Syracuse.
- Maryland and Rutgers leave to go to the American. They were never a good fit in the B1G, markets be damned.
- Also, the American picks up West Virginia who doesn’t belong in Big 8/SWC world anymore (and rightfully so).
- To even things out, The American Conference takes the top team from Conference USA, Marshall who should get an instant boost by moving to a better conference.
- Hey the Mountain West (along with The American) are joining the big boys! They get Utah back from the Pac, invite BYU, North Dakota State, and Montana and hopefully cash in at some point.
There you go, the top division (Power Eight?) are set. Now we get to the CFP and bowl setup. Here’s how it would look:
|Bowl||Bowl Tie-In #1||Bowl Tie-In #2|
|CFP Championship||Orange Winner||Cotton Winner|
|Cotton Bowl||Fiesta Winner||Rose Winner|
|Orange Bowl||Peach Winner||Sugar Winner|
|Fiesta Bowl||CFP Poll #1||CFP Poll #8|
|Peach Bowl||CFP Poll #2||CFP Poll #7|
|Sugar Bowl||CFP Poll #3||CFP Poll #6|
|Rose Bowl||CFP Poll #4||CFP Poll #5|
|Outback Bowl||SEC #2||Big Ten #2|
|TaxSlayer Bowl||SEC #6||Big Ten #6|
|Citrus Bowl||SEC #4||Big Ten #4|
|Music City Bowl||SEC #3||ACC #3|
|Sun Bowl||Pac-10 #3||SWC #3|
|Liberty Bowl||SEC #5||ACC #4|
|Alamo Bowl||SWC #2||Big Eight #2|
|Belk Bowl||ACC #2||American #2|
|Texas Bowl||SWC #4||MWC #2|
|Pinstripe Bowl||Big Ten #5||American #3|
|Cactus Bowl||Pac-10 #4||MWC #3|
|Holiday Bowl||Big Ten #3||Pac-10 #2|
|Armed Forces Bowl||Big Eight #3||American #4|
|Las Vegas Bowl||Big Eight #4||MWC #4|
The bowl tie-ins are pretty easy to figure out. Tried to go as regional as I possibly could. The SEC and Big Ten received five actual tie-ins, the rest of the conferences got three. As for the CFP, it has to be expanded to eight. It’s going to be expanded anyway so why fight it. They can’t go to sixteen since that would be ridiculous but eight probably will work (until the 8-seed wins the title and then all hell will break loose). I bet you think “Oh, eight conferences, eight champions, right?” WRONG! Considering the strength of the conferences now, I have gone this route:
- The SEC, Big Ten, and Pac-10 champions get automatic berths.
- From the other five conferences, the top 2 conference champions also get automatic berths. This will be settled by the CFP ranking.
- The other three spots will be at-large choices.
This makes it so that if one conference (cough*SEC*cough) has two teams in the top four, the worst of the two won’t be penalized.
What does this all mean for our friends in Conference USA, the MAC, and the Sun Belt? Well, they would form the new Tier Two (Group of Seven? Wait, no that’s been used before…) that would look like so:
|Conference USA||MAC||Sun Belt||Missouri Valley|
|Southern Miss||Toledo||Appalachian State||South Dakota State|
|Louisiana Tech||Northern Illinois||Troy||Youngstown State|
|UAB||Bowling Green||Arkansas State||Illinois State|
|Middle Tennessee||Northern Iowa||UL-Lafayette||Southern Illinois|
|Western Kentucky||Western Michigan||South Alabama||Western Illinois|
|North Texas||Ohio||Texas State||Missouri State|
|Florida Atlantic||Central Michigan||Georgia State||North Dakota|
|Old Dominion||Ball State||Furman||Indiana State|
|Georgia Southern||Kent State||Jacksonville State|
|James Madison||Eastern Washington||Central Arkansas|
|Massachusetts||Idaho||Sam Houston State|
|Richmond||New Mexico State||Stephen F. Austin|
|New Hampshire||Cal Poly||Northwestern State|
|Delaware||Northern Arizona||SE Louisiana|
|William & Mary||Montana State||Abilene Christian|
|Towson||Weber State||Incarnate Word|
|Rhode Island||Southern Utah||Houston Baptist|
|Stony Brook||Idaho State|
Tulane and Hawaii move down from previous conferences since, well, they just wouldn’t fit in with the new money maker conferences. Army is invited into the MAC and there are a few changes to the rest of the conferences (call-ups if you will). This new tier will not have bowl games but will inherit the FCS Playoffs. 16 teams instead of 24. I think it would work well with some better programs than they currently have now in the FCS (no five-in-a-row dynasty stuff then).
As for the new bottom tier of D-1, it consists of eight conferences where half of them don’t even compete in the playoffs. The Ivy League doesn’t do the playoffs at all and the MEAC and SWAC do their own fun-time HBCU championship. The other five conferences might as well join D-2 at this point. To be honest, they are probably so low on the food chain that myself (along with a lot of others) wouldn’t care unless you were an alumnus of that school.
Alright, now to broadcasting info since this breaks into what my blog is all about (for the most part):
- CBS would still get the SEC game of the week.
- FOX would get either the Big Ten or Pac-10 game of the week.
- NBC, with Notre Dame going to the Big Ten, would probably get the ACC or American game of the week.
- ABC would get the Big Eight, SWC, or Mountain West game of the week.
- CBS would most likely show a doubleheader. With ESPN’s hold on the rest of SEC football, I see them picking up another conference, most likely the Big Eight or SWC.
- FOX would probably move to tripleheaders on the main network as long as they didn’t interfere with Major League Baseball. My best guess is they would have one Big Ten and one Pac-10 game and then one more from either conference.
- NBC would show a doubleheader I’m sure, with one game each from the ACC and American.
- ABC would get their normal tripleheader with the best game from the three conferences above getting the primetime 8:00 pm slot.
- ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, FOX Sports One, and FOX Sports Net would pick up most of the rest of the games (anywhere from 18-24 each week).
Again, this renders the conference networks moot at this point. The only other way they could possibly survive is if they overpay to get their selection of games past the game of the week in their respective conferences. So basically it would be like Tier Two rights. I can’t see that happening, especially with ESPN having a finger in the pie with the SEC Network.
Saying all this, live sports on TV might cease to exist like it is now a decade later. We may be watching all college football games through the various conference networks online by then. This would affect my media prediction here as well as the previous three scenarios. But until that starts to take shape, we have to assume the networks (and ESPN) would have some semblance of control over live broadcasts.
So there you have it. All four scenarios. Guaranteed none of them are correct but you never know what insanity will befall us over the next few years. No one, back in the late 80s, would have ever thought the Southwest Conference would be dissolved around the middle of the next decade. This despite the fact that we had the SMU death penalty and almost every team mired in some sort of controversy. So my predictions are always with the idea that none of this at all may happen and it may be steady as she goes as we head into 2026.
Next up is the biggest games of the college football season. No CFL post this season since I have less knowledge than ever about the CFL. I was shocked to see how much tickets were going for for Ti-Cats games. I think that’s absurd but that’s just me I guess. Following the biggest games posts will be the various network predictions and then we get into conference predictions. Finally getting back into posting on a regular basis so I better get myself organized. That’s always a fun exercise. And by always I mean never.