On Tuesday night, the Pac-12 announced it terminated negotiations to expand the conference to 14 or even 16 teams. The conference said it was happy with 12 teams—for now.
That’s all well and good, but if you think conference re-alignment is finished for the foreseeable future, you are simply wrong. More shifts are coming, and while college basketball fans (especially in the Big East) may lament the possibility of more moves, college football fans should be ecstatic about the potential for major conference re-alignment. In fact, college football fans should want more moves, leading to bigger and better conferences for all.
The current state of school shifts is similar to a Rubik’s Cube. Before re-alignment, we had a completed cube, with each conference comfortably occupying one colored side. As the first schools left their respective conferences to join the Big Ten and Pac-10, the cube experienced various twists and turns. Worried by the threat of weakened conferences and lured by bigger media contracts, many schools have found new homes, further complicating and scrambling the cube.
The Rubik’s Cube is now an unsustainable multicolor heap. Some conferences are content, but others – I’m looking at you, Big 12 and Big East–are struggling to recoup their losses and could potentially fold. Instead of wasting time fixing the cube through more complicated shifts and twists, I propose we paint the sides.
I’m envisioning four football super conferences—yes I’m aware the cube is technically no longer a cube, relax—grown out of the Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC, and SEC.
With bigger conferences, teams would play less cupcake teams and have more games against big-time conference rivals. Matchups previously reserved for BCS games would now be commonplace every single week. You would be able to see Oklahoma play Oregon the same week Texas plays USC.
Additionally, these conferences could easily be constructed in such a way that preserves old rivalries while creating previously unimaginable annual matchups. This solution would also rid college football of the messy BCS system. Instead of wondering what teams were the best in the country, that debate would be settled on the field. Boise State would have a chance to prove they belong with the big boys week in and week out by facing USC, Oklahoma, and Oregon every year. TCU would face a similar schedule, or perhaps compete against the likes of LSU and Auburn in the new SEC.
At the end of the year, we would be left with four conference champions. The current bowl system could stay in place—keeping sponsors and fans happy—with those four teams competing in de facto national semifinal bowl games. The winners would then play one extra national championship game to be named the true champion of college football.
Many may protest this vision, claiming the re-alignments are designed with only college football in mind. This is a valid argument, but the simple fact is that college football rules college athletics. Football keeps many athletic departments afloat, and money will flow into the gridiron even faster with bigger weekly matchups and a Final Four-like finale. Change has come, and more is coming. It’s an exciting time to be a fan of college football.
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