Wow, the dust has settled after one of the craziest days we’ve had in college football since USC fired Lane Kiffin on the airport tarmac† Seemingly out of nowhere, the University of Southern California and the University of California Los Angeles will leave the Pac-12 to join the Big Ten in 2024.
Everything we know about the college football landscape has rapidly eroded in recent years, starting with Colorado and Nebraska starting from the Big 12 in 2010 until the end of the BCS era and the start of the College Football Playoff in 2015.
Power five programs Texas† Oklahoma USC and UCLA plus group of five programs BYU, Houston UCF and Cincinnati have all left their conferences in the past year. It’s safe to say that there are still quite a few drastic changes on the way.
There is a widespread belief that we may be dealing with two mega conferences with 20 members each build around the current SEC and Big Ten.
However, it would be difficult to consolidate everything into two large conferences. Four conferences with 20 teams each sounds more realistic.
So, what will this look like in the end?
The numbers in bold indicate the number of programs in the conference if the schools preceding them participate in that respective conference.
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The SEC has shown over the past decade that they will continue to do what is best for the conference. In 2011, they added Texas A&M and Missouri, and ten years later they added Texas and Oklahoma. So if the SEC continues to pioneer, who will they be looking to add?
Verified acceding members: oklahoma, texas (16)
Rumors of participation in programs (save four): ClemsonFSU, Miami and Georgia Tech (20)
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In what was an absolutely huge move by the Big Ten, they made the additions of USC and UCLA to the conference. The Big Ten gets two historic universities and athletic programs for further exposure, plus vacations to California every year! While the two programs will earn hundreds of millions of dollars by taking this step and improving their viewership across the country.
Verified acceding members: UCLA and USC (16)
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This is where it gets interesting. We’ve already reached our two conferences of 20 teams, but there are still plenty of quality universities available, so what can the Big 12 bring?
Existing members: Baylor, the state of Iowa, Kansas, the state of Kansas, State of OklahomaTCU, Texas Tech and West Virginia (8)
Verified acceding members: Cincinnati, BYU Houston and UCF (12)
Rumors of acceding members: arizona, the state of arizona, Colorado and Utah (16)
Speculated acceding members: With four seats available, there are plenty of great programs to choose from. However, I think the Big 12 adds duke and UNC to pair with Kansas for basketball. The last two places then go to California and Utah to make a huge impression on both coasts.
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In what would be the absolute doomsday scenario, the two coastal conferences, the Pacific and the Atlantic, should salvage what’s left to make an international conference.
Programs about (ACC): Boston College, Louisville, Syracuse, NC State, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Virginia and Virginia Tech (8)
Programs about (Pac-12): Oregon State and Washington State (10)
Notable G5 programs: Army, Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Memphis, Marine, San Diego State, SMU, USF, and Utah State (20)
It would certainly take some rescue, but I think you could almost make another conference out of the ten power five programs and your pick of ten groups of five.
Future in the future
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This will have huge implications for so many different things, from NIL to recruiting to transfers to bowls, and much more. The divide between the SEC/Big Ten and everyone else is only going to widen, mainly because of the disparity in money due to television contracts, licenses and other assets. It will change the area that people are recruiting, the amount of money to factor in through NIL, a huge viewership advantage and slowly start to pull away. I think the bowl system will have to change, and hopefully that means the playoffs can expand. With so many different conferences, it makes sense to expand and continue pushing the game to be less geographic. It will be interesting to see what moves the conferences will make in the coming days.