What will College Football look like?
The Big Ten finally has counterpunched SEC's expansion to Texas and Oklahoma with this week's announcement that USC and UCLA will be joining their ranks. More importantly, it is showing the future of major college football most likely will be 2 Super Conferences and the leftovers.
Here is how I think it will all shake out.
Southern Cal, UCLA, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois, Purdue, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan, Maryland, Rutgers
Notre Dame, Boston College, Pitt, Syracuse, UNC, Duke, Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Cal, Washington, Washington State
I don’t see the Big Ten expanding beyond 32 teams. But we may see some leniency when it comes to the prerequisite of membership to the Association of American Universities (AAU). I feel the league under the academic requirements will be looking to see if the university in question is advancing in research or any other academic endeavors, to me this will help Kansas State to get in.
Notre Dame will also fall to the Big Ten. I don’t feel the Fighting Irish would want to give up their football independence, but it will partner with the Big Ten. It seems to me that they know this isn’t about what they want anymore, and they need to position themselves properly. When you look at Notre Dame’s current NBC contract, it is $15 million per season and that runs through 2025. Then when you realize that the projections for the contact/media rights in this scenario are four times more than ND is receiving now, it starts to make a lot of sense.
Boston College would join out of geographical purposes. The Big Ten would want to cap the BoWash megalopolis (Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC) that has nearly 20% of the US population. It would be strategic to keep it out of the SEC’s hands.
In another geographical sense, the Big Ten will expand to Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State. These are schools to bridge the West Coast and Midwest universities. Kansas and Iowa State are AAU schools, they meet the academic portfolio. Kansas State does not, but as mentioned the emphasis the school has put on academics has been a serious commitment and something the Big Ten will look upon favorably.
I feel from a contentious standpoint the battle with the SEC will be with UNC and Duke. Both programs bring blueblood and alpha basketball branding to the portfolio. I feel from an academic standpoint, the allure of joining other AAU (Association of American Universities) will be very tempting. From a basketball standpoint, if my configuration holds true, can you imagine a hoops schedule with UCLA, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Kansas, UNC, and Duke is one that would assert the Big Ten as the super basketball conference.
I also feel the original Pac-8 will reform in the Big Ten as Cal, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, and Washington State will join the league.
Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Kentucky
Florida State, Miami, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Baylor, TCU, Texas Tech, Louisville, Virginia, Virginia Tech, WVU, Oklahoma State, Colorado, Utah, BYU, Arizona, Arizona State
The SEC will also get to 32 teams.
The goal will be to stay as close to the recipe to what made the SEC successful, keeping regionality but expanding west as well.
The ideal first targets for the SEC is complete the cuff of rivalries they have, expect Florida State and Miami (Florida), Clemson (South Carolina), Louisville (Kentucky), Georgia Tech (Georgia) and Oklahoma State (Oklahoma) to join the SEC.
I also feel like how the Big Ten recreated the Pac-8, the SEC will nearly recreate the old Southwest Conference in one of their divisions with the additions of the Texas school leftovers.
The SEC will also likely expand its footprint out west with the additions of Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, and BYU. This adds the Phoenix and Salt Lake City markets.
Divisions and Schedules
Each conference will have four 8-team divisions.
Each schools schedule will be made up as follows:
- Play all 7 division opponents
- Play 1 team from each division on rotating basis
- Have 2 games to play anyone
Big Ten Alignment
- The West Division is a recreation of the Pac-8
- The Plains Division is a hybrid of the Big 8 and Big Ten West configuration together.
- The Midwest Division is beyond stacked, but it keeps all of ND's primary rivalries together, it is in essence a classic Big Ten division and geographically all schools are close to one another (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan)
- The Atlantic Division for Penn State is almost a recreation of their independent days as an Eastern school renewing rivalries with Pitt, WVU, Syracuse, BC, and continuing games against Maryland and Rutgers. The North Carolina schools round out this division.
- While I understand the state of Mississippi is not west of the Mississippi River, to keep the Egg Bowl intact and find a division with 2 spots that tried to make sense, they got lumped out west into a somewhat weird SEC orphans division that is made up of 4 intense rivalries.
- Central Division is almost a recreation of the SWC conference except we take out Houston, SMU, and Rice, and add in LSU, and Missouri. The big reason Oklahoma and Oklahoma State is not in here is geographical and also competitive balance.
- East Division is one that would excite me if it came to fruition. It is incredibly heavy but all the schools are near each other, you have the Florida Championship determined, Georgia and Georgia Tech, and The Iron Bowl. With the geographical desire of making the North what it is, Vanderbilt/Tennessee was split, and with the division already brutal, Vanderbilt was the sacrificial lamb.
- North Division is an interesting one, you got great rivalries in Kentucky and Louisville, Virginia and Virginia Tech, and Clemson and South Carolina which will define it. Add in WVU and Tennessee who are geographically near all these schools and they fit in real nicely and can add flair to these rivalries.