Resolving Conference Realignment

The big hot-button topic among college football fans heading into the season? Conference realignment. Old rivalries lost, travel costs increasing, programs left out – the chaos continues to spread to every corner of collegiate athletics.

The rapid reorganization of college athletic conferences driven by television wars that discount non-revenue sports left us with a geographically non-sensical mess. Fret not. I possess the solution to all of our worries. Allow me to present my master plan to preserve the regionality of college football.

Step 1 of Conference Realignment: Break Up the Big 12

With Texas and Oklahoma on the verge of leaving the conference for the SEC, the Big 12 appeared to be on the ropes. This demise, however, was prematurely reported. In my plan, we will complete the demise.

Baylor, TCU, Texas Tech, and Houston join Texas in the SEC. Oklahoma backs out of the SEC and instead heads to the Big Ten. Joining Oklahoma in the Big Ten? Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, recent Big 12 addition Colorado, and another SEC defection in Missouri.

BYU, Utah, Arizona, and Arizona State head west while West Virginia, UCF, and Cincinnati head east.

Step 2: A New Pacific-Based Conference

The Big Ten, realizing the addition of the West Coast schools only desired to join the conference in order to have access to the freshwater of the Great Lakes, give USC, UCLA, Oregon, and Washington the boot. The four schools join forces with BYU, Utah, Arizona, and Arizona State to form a new conference that Oregon State, Washington State, Stanford, and Cal also join.

This new conference which we’ll call something fresh like the Pacific Athletic Conference, will see the writing on the wall and decide to talk the Mountain West into forming a mega-conference with multiple divisions. They also pick up a couple of far-flung CUSA teams. I present to you the Pacific Athletic Conference.

Pacific Division

USC

UCLA

Washington

Washington State

Oregon

Oregon State

Arizona

Arizona State

Cal

Stanford

Mountain Division

Utah

BYU

Air Force

Colorado State

UNLV

New Mexico

Wyoming

San Diego State

Western Division

Boise State

Fresno State

Hawaii

Nevada

Utah State

New Mexico State

UTEP

Step 3: Reorganizing the SEC

As mentioned above, the SEC receives an influx of Texas teams. In addition to those fleeing the Big 12 – Rice and SMU also join the party! This might seem messy but trust me when I say that the new SEC divisions will be easy. With the Texas schools being on the southern and western fringes of the conference, I have this step of conference realignment covered. Toss in Arkansas for good measure and ouila.

Southwest Division

Texas A&M

Texas

Baylor

SMU

Rice

TCU

Texas Tech

Houston

Arkansas

Southeast Division

LSU

Ole Miss

Mississippi State

Alabama

Auburn

Vanderbilt

Kentucky

Tennessee

South Carolina

Georgia

Florida

Step 4: Reorganizing The Big Ten

With the Big 12 schools plus Mizzou and Oklahoma coming over, the Big Ten will also need to be reorganized. This is once again an easy task. Meanwhile, Rutgers and Maryland have decided to head to the east after not having much success in the Big Ten.

A Division of Eight Big Teams

Iowa State

Missouri

Kansas

Kansas State

Oklahoma

Oklahoma State

Nebraska

Colorado

A Division of Ten Big Teams Plus One

Minnesota

Iowa

Wisconsin

Illinois

Northwestern

Purdue

Indiana

Michigan

Michigan State

Ohio State

Penn State

Step 5: The New Look ACC

With several teams looking to find a new home in the eastern part of the United States, the ACC welcomes them with open arms. The influx of West Virginia, UCF, Cincinnati, Maryland, and Rutgers means some more realignment is at hand. UConn also elects to end their independence by joining the ACC. I’ve thought ahead.

Big Eastern Division

West Virginia

Virginia Tech

Pitt

UConn

UCF

Cincinnati

Rutgers

Syracuse

Boston College

Louisville

Atlantic Coastal Division

Clemson

Florida State

Miami

Maryland

Georgia Tech

North Carolina

North Carolina State

Duke

Wake Forest

Virginia

Step 6: The Dissolution of Conference USA

CUSA has been hanging on by a thread in recent years – a battered ship cast about on the tidal waves of realignment. With New Mexico State and UTEP bound for the WAC, errrrr, Western Division of the Pacific Athletic Conference, the remaining teams need a home. FIU, Jacksonville State, Liberty, Louisiana Tech, MTSU, Sam Houston State, and Western Kentucky? Welcome to the Fun Belt. Kennesaw State rises to the Sun Belt in 2024 as well.

Step 7: Final Form Fun Belt

The American Athletic Conference loses SMU and Rice to the SEC. Realizing that AAC resembles ACC a little too much, and hoping to become a mega-conference in their own right, the American Athletic Conference teams join with the Sun Belt under that banner. The result is a divine and glorious Sun Belt that will conquer the world. The divisions here will be a little trickier, unfortunately. Also, Temple becomes independent.

Fun Belt West Division

Tulsa

Texas State

North Texas

Sam Houston State

UTSA

Arkansas State

Tulane

Lousiana Tech

ULL

ULM

Southern Miss

Fun Belt South Division

Florida International

Florida Atlantic

USF

UAB

South Alabama

Troy

Georgia Southern

Georgia State

Kennesaw State

Memphis

Fun Belt North Division

MTSU

Western Kentucky

Coastal Carolina

East Carolina

Charlotte

Appalachian State

James Madison

Old Dominion

Liberty

Marshall

Navy

Step 8: Protect MACtion at all costs

The MAC is perfect. The MAC is sacred. We do absolutely nothing to change the MAC over the course of conference realignment. It is a beacon of hope to all who want college football to revert back to a sport focused on regionality. MACtion is magic.

The Final Step: Six-Team Playoff

Everyone gets to dance. The SEC, ACC, Big Ten, and PAC (short for Pacific Athletic Conference) champions will all get a berth in the playoffs. So too do the champs of the Final Form Fun Belt and the MAC. A champion will be crowned to satisfy those who complain about wanting to find a definitive national champion. “But Jay, what about conferences with three divisions? How will a champion be decided?” you ask. Y’all can put together a small post-season conference tournament to determine a champion, I have faith.

So there you have it, college football fixed. You’re welcome.

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