Conference Re-Alignment

As college football fans the existing product is strong enough today as to not need much tweaking. We are actually NOT in favor of a playoff and our reason is simple: We want every game to matter, the National Championship is about the pursuit of perfection, it is the best thing about college football, EVERY Saturday matters.

All 'tweaks' must work inside the following guidelines:

**We must consider every universities unique position

**Geography should play a major role

**Existing rivalries should be taken into consideration

**Scheduling must work for both football and basketball

**Bowl games must remain a part of the college football landscape

**14 games should be the maximum for football

The most difficult question is the number of teams in each conference. The number '12' has been shown to work for both major sports, it allows for a conference championship game in football, and in hoops at least a team plays every other conference team at least once. The talk of expanding to "16" is ridiculous, at best you end up with two sides of "8", but if that is the case then let's call it conferences of "8", we feel it is simply too many teams.

We feel the sweet spot is "9 teams" however, it allows a school to play every other team in the conference in football for a true conference champion, as well as being the perfect number for hoops, 16 conference games means home and homes in basketball. As long as we are starting from a blank slate, here is what we would propose.

ACC: Miami, Georgia Tech, Clemson, South Carolina, North Carolina, N.C. State, Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia

Eight of these schools are in the present ACC, we are adding South Carolina, a relatively recent member of the SEC. Miami, Clemson, and Georgia Tech have won NCs in the last 30 years(a total of 7). In hoops, UNC and Duke are two of the premier programs in the country.

SEC: Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU

Again eight of these schools are in the existing SEC, we are adding FSU because of it's location is ideally suited for this conference along with it's rivalry with UF. This will certainly be the premier football conference in the country, this group has 11 NC s in the last 30 years, it does lack a true horse in the college basketball however.

BIG EAST: Maryland, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Pitt, Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse, Connecticut, Boston College

A true "Big East", this alignment hits the Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston markets. Penn State is the key as they have a history of fighting just such a move. This conference has plenty of star power in both sports. Four national championships in the last 13 years in basketball for this group.

Big 10: Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Cincinnati

Kentucky? Yes, Kentucky, they fit more here than in the SEC geographically, this is a WHALE of a basketball conference with NCs from Indiana, Michigan State, Michigan, and Kentucky in the last 30 years. Notre Dame and Northwestern bring the city of Chicago into the mix. OSU, ND, and Michigan are a big 3 football wise.

New Conference: "Midwest": Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Iowa State, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Kansas State

This is a new conference, but one that is intriguing. Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Kansas City are 'big' cities. Nebraska(football) and Kansas(hoops) are the flagship programs. All within an 10 hour drive(Manhatten to Madison) of each other, often times much, much less.

Big 12: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas Tech, Texas, Texas AM, Arkansas, Baylor

This conference brings back some of the old SW Conference flair, Texas is almost on top of the mountain in football and the conference should be rock solid in basketball. Texas is a huge growth state long term, therefore this conference will strengthen every year.

Pac 10: Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, California, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Arizona, Arizona State

We will keep 10 teams in the Pac 10 because it works, the schools already play nine conference games and it makes sense since it is still a bit remote for the rest of the country. USC(football) and UCLA(hoops) are the flagship programs.

Conference USA: South Florida, Central Florida, UAB, Memphis, Louisville, Vanderbilt, Southern Miss, Houston, Tulane

Vanderbilt joins a conference that they are more equipped to compete in. This conference works geographically and has three current BCS teams. Memphis has been as good as anyone in basketball and UCF is on the rise as a university. In other words, there should be healthy debate on whether this is a BCS conference. Clearly, along with the MWC, it is "next in line".

MWC: Hawaii, San Diego, Fresno, San Jose, UNLV, Nevada, Idaho, Boise State, Utah, BYU, Utah State, Wyoming

Our only 12 team conference, this one will be split up between the first 6 and the second 6 in the 12 team format we are familiar with today.

WAC: Air Force, Colorado State, New Mexico State, UTEP, SMU, Tulsa, TCU, Rice

Only eight teams in this conference but there are natural rivalries here.

Sun Belt: Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Troy, Middle Tennessee State, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Arkansas State, North Texas

A conference of southern schools that play in the same conference today.

MAC: Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Ohio, Miami, Kent, Akron, Bowling Green, Ball State

A manageable MAC conference that cuts it down to three states.

New Conference: "North" Temple, Buffalo, Marshall, Army, Navy, Toledo, Northern Illinois, Western Kentucky, East Carolina

Schools in the East that are D-1 with similar pedigrees.

NOTE ON SCHOOLS: Obviously, this is subjective, South Carolina can stay in the SEC, FSU can stay in the ACC(we just liked the South Carolina-Clemson and UF-FSU aspects), maybe Notre Dame does not want to join, maybe PSU does not want to leave 'Big 10 Country'. Point here is that it was just one look at how it could be done.

So, we are left with 13 conferences, with only ONE being a 'super conference' (the MWC). We can then have a TRUE "Championship weekend" that will pit conferences champs against each other in a "playoff".

Let's take a look at last year. It is "Championship Saturday". For the sake of this article we are going to pit the SEC vs. Big 10, Midwest vs. ACC, Pac 10 vs. Big East, Big 12 vs. Conference USA, Sun Belt vs. MAC, North vs. WAC, and then then the MWC conference championship game. Here is how that would look from last year:

Alabama vs. Ohio State

Iowa vs. Georgia Tech

Oregon vs. Penn State

Texas vs. Vanderbilt

Central Michigan vs. Troy

East Carolina vs. TCU

Fresno vs. Boise State

At the very least a conference champion will have to beat another conference champion. Sure, we could get "Alabama vs. Texas" in this "round".......but that is the point, at least we are getting the game and it will be settled on the field.

We would further propose neutral sites for these games, common sense can be used here to determine location(or perhaps they are two year contracts with a "home" and "home", for instance Detroit for the Big 10 and Atlanta for the SEC). Regardless the game is known and scheduled long in advance. To make it even better we propose an "undercard" that would pit the #2 vs. #2 (for TV the game could be before or after). It would be interesting AND it would add valuble computer data to the BCS formula(as well as add two more schools fans to the neutral site venue). Not to mention that 'dangler' in this scenario, let's say Florida from last year, who would have lost one game and be fighting to get in if things "broke well" for them......well they would at least have to beat a quality team this weekend.

Now you have your BCS computer rankings and use the existing structure with these tie ins:

NC Game: #1 vs. #2

Rose: Pac 10 vs. Big 10

Orange: At Large vs. Big East

Sugar: SEC vs. ACC

Fiesta: Big 12 vs. Midwest

This will provide us with THREE at large teams(the replacements for the NC game participants, plus one more).

Will this solve ALL of our problems? No, of course not, clearly three one loss teams could come out of "Championship Weekend", but it is less likely than today. A little healthy debate is PART of the allure of college football.

What we feel we have accomplished with this scenario is:

1) Leveled the playing field for all teams

2) Made "Championship" Saturday the first "playoff"

3) Used common sense to make conferences

4) Made the scheduling as easy as possible and kept the existing bowl structure

Our final order of business is the Big East basketball schools. We would put Georgetown, Villanova, Seton Hall, Providence, St. John's, Depaul, and Marquette along with Xavier and St. Louis from the A-10 to form a new basketball only conference. This will also take the existing A-10 down to a manageble 11 teams. We could easily add one more and go "10" and "11" between the two. There is a rich tradition of hoops at these schools, that should continue. There should be some thrilling non conference games between the likes of Georgetown vs. Syracuse, etc.


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