Conference Realignment Talk--Where Does It End

Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

Conference realignment seems like it is heating back up. Where does all of this talk eventually end? How about with four 20-team superconferences? Is it likely, probably not, but it might just make it there.

All of the talk Saturday about a potential wave of realignment getting ready to start again after rumors of Maryland and Rutgers being courted by the Big Ten made me wonder where the road all ends. My guess is that you will see conferences work together to become too big to fail, and when that happens, the entire landscape of college football will change. The best path to security with a clear cut playoff system and bowl games comes with four 20-team superconferences.

Why such large conferences? With 20 teams, each conference could split into four divisions with five teams. With such an arrangement, all of the teams could play a home and home with everyone in their conference every six years, which is much faster than what the SEC is looking at currently. The system would look like this. Conference A Division 1 would play everyone in its division, plus everyone in Division 2. Division 3 would match up with Division 4, and the divisions would rotate around with each other. As for the three non-conference games, the teams could play one of the teams out of the other superconferences, letting the rich get richer.

After the regular season concludes, division winners from each conference would square off against each other in a conference semifinal, and those winners would face off the next week for the conference championship. The four conference winners would square off in a national semifinal, and the winners would meet for the national title. Of course, this requires a few extra games to be played for a handful of teams, but I think the money would win out over the "academic concerns" of the presidents, especially since most of the games would be played over the Christmas Break.

This also does nothing to take teams out of the bowl system.

So how would the conferences look? Currently, among the Big Five (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC-12, and SEC) there are 60 of the 80 needed teams. That means that the other 20 teams would have to come from the ranks of the independents, Big East, and non-AQ conferences.

Here is a rough guess as to how the conferences and divisions would look:

The New SEC

Division 1

Division 2

Division 3

Division 4

Arkansas

LSU

Alabama

South Carolina

Texas

Mississippi State

Auburn

Clemson

Texas A&M

Ole Miss

Tennessee

Kentucky

Oklahoma

Missouri

Georgia

Vanderbilt

Texas Tech

Kansas

Florida

Louisville

The New Conference A

Division 1

Division 2

Division 3

Division 4

Penn State

Illinois

Iowa

Tulsa

Michigan

Indiana

Iowa State

Houston

Northwestern

Purdue

Northwestern

Baylor

Ohio State

Minnesota

Nebraska

Kansas State

Michigan State

Wisconsin

TCU

Oklahoma State

New Pac-20

Division 1

Division 2

Division 3

Division 4

Oregon

Cal

UCLA

Arizona

Oregon St

Stanford

USC

Arizona St

Washington

Air Force

Colorado State

Hawaii

Washington St

BYU

Colorado

San Jose St

Boise St

Utah

Nevada

Fresno St

New Conference B

Division 1

Division 2

Division 3

Division 4

Florida State

Rutgers

Pittsburgh

North Carolina

Miami

Connecticut

Maryland

Virginia

South Florida

Notre Dame

NC State

Virginia Tech

Memphis

Boston College

Wake Forest

Duke

Southern Miss

Syracuse

West Virginia

Georgia Tech

So is it perfect? Nope. Some division are quite weak inside the conferences. New Conference A (because I am not creative at all with names) has a huge geographic footprint to cover (the states are contiguous), but the other three are fairly close.

Did I pick the right non Big Five teams? I'm not sure...at all. That could be a fun thing to watch if this ends up going down.

A good number of the traditional rivalries are still secured, and a few are even brought back. Will some go away? Yes, but we have learned that few rivalries are more important than the dollar.

So will it happen? Who knows? What say you? If nothing else, it makes for good water cooler talk.

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