College football appears to be hurtling toward a five-conference, 80-team “super” league that will shed dozens of fringe schools from the national playoff picture.
We’re still a ways off from the final touches, but the Big 12’s recent decision to expand has — for seemingly the millionth time — thrust realignment back onto the NCAA’s center stage. Will the conference add Houston? Memphis? Tulane? The options are many.
In an attempt to stay trendy while subverting the seriousness of it all, we’ve decided to conduct our own realignment.
The goal? To assign 80 teams to five super conferences based on simple geography.
No more conference road trips from New Jersey to Minnesota. No more divisional plane rides between Columbia, Mo., and Columbia, S.C. The geographically unsound side of realignment will be expelled to the special place in hell it always belonged.
Our first task was to select the 80 teams we would be placing. We went with the entirety of the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, plus Notre Dame, BYU, Boise State, Rice (legacy!), the service schools and a large chunk of the AAC.
In all, we cut out 48 current FBS schools. Sorry.
Here’s a breakdown of each conference:
Championship game: City of Champions Stadium (Los Angeles)
There are only 15 schools west of the Central Time Zone, so there’s not much drama involved in this reimagining of the Pac-12. Air Force, Boise State and BYU are natural additions, while Texas Tech is not. But when you consider the distances to its new brethren (493 miles to Colorado Springs, 637 miles to Tucson) vs. some of its Texas pals (429 miles to College Station, 523 miles to Houston), the change isn’t that drastic.
- Boise State
- Oregon State
- Washington State
- Air Force
- Arizona State
- Texas Tech
Championship game: AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
The biggest question in redesigning the Big 12 was whether to poach Memphis, the Mississippi schools and Alabama or move north and snag more familiar opponents: Missouri, Nebraska and the Kansas schools. Due to the way other conferences shook out, it was better for the overall picture to build a north-south corridor instead of circling around the big void in northern Louisiana and southern Arkansas. And with the eastern part of the country stacked with dozens of schools, it made LSU and Tulane easy pickings for the Lone Star, so named because a conference with seven Texas schools is doomed to be run by them.
- Kansas State
- Oklahoma State
- Texas A&M
Championship game: Soldier Field (Chicago)
There are plenty of new faces (Cincinnati, Iowa State, Louisville, Kentucky, Pittsburgh) in the revamped Big Ten, but none bigger than Notre Dame, which is finally forced to enlist in one of America’s power conferences. The Big 16 lays out in slanted east-west fashion without an easy border between the divisions, so we crudely divided teams into poorly-named groups. Sound familiar?
- Michigan State
- Ohio State
- Iowa State
- Notre Dame
Championship game: FedEx Field (Washington, D.C.)
Based on recent history, this is the weakest conference of the five. Few of these teams are national heavyweights, and the result is a completely declawed version of the ACC. The North division will be especially rough; If Penn State or Navy is able to go 7-0 in a given year, few people will be impressed. Now, if you want to talk basketball…
- Boston College
- Penn State
- East Carolina
- North Carolina
- North Carolina State
- Virginia Tech
- Wake Forest
- West Virginia
Championship game: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta)
It’s… it’s beautiful. Let’s say you’re UCF, and you’re trying to win the East division. You’ve gotta get by Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia and Miami to do so. Hell, this conference is so good that the “lesser” West division owns four of the past six national championships. Let’s just scrap this 80-team idea and stick with the 16 we have here; we’re fine with the national title game being played every December in Atlanta.
- Central Florida
- Florida State
- South Carolina
- South Florida
- Georgia Tech
- Ole Miss
- Mississippi State
Would you realign these teams in a different way? Let us know how in the comments, and snap back to reality with The Ultimate SEC Road Trip and a list of this year’s travel miles for every SEC school.