The Dawn of Mega-Conferences?

Lots of talk about expansion and realignment these days. Lots of speculation too. I won’t pretend to have the answers, but I will play out one scenario. We all know the Big Ten will make the first move in the expansion game. They have the power to completely reshape college sports, more so than they might think. For example, simply expanding to 12 teams means the Pac-10 would add BYU and Utah to be the Pac-12. Nothing else changes. But imagine if they become a 16-team super conference? We could see the dawn of the mega conferences. So how would that affect the other conferences? Everyone else would try to keep up.

For the Big Ten to get to 16 teams, they need to add five more. Those teams would be Missouri, Nebraska, Syracuse, Rutgers, and Pitt. Notre Dame will just say no. With one conference going to 16 teams, its no question that the others will surely follow. But just who expands and to how many?

First, I think the SEC would be the second team to expand. They would have to add four teams. The sure front-runners are Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. There’s an off chance they might go after Clemson, but I doubt it. Texas and Oklahoma are big prizes, and unfortunately, they come with the A&M and Okie State baggage.

After seeing these moves, the Pac-10 would become the Pac-14. I don’t think there are enough options for them to get to 16 teams. They would add four teams: BYU, Utah, Colorado and Boise State. You heard me, Boise State. They would have to in order to keep up in football. I realize Boise State isn’t there academically or in any other sport. But football is the king of college sports, you do what is best for football. Boise State has a huge following. They would be a great team to add to the conference.

This creates some trouble for the MWC, WAC and Big East. How do they respond? I think without BYU and Utah, the MWC is finished. San Diego State, UNLV, Wyoming, Colorado State and New Mexico all hop back into the WAC. TCU joins C-USA. Air Force goes independent. But what about the Big East?

The Big East is in a tough spot. They have a huge conference in all other sports, but most of those teams are not playing football. They would be left with only 5 football teams. Something would surely have to be done. But what do you do about the ACC? Goodness knows they are going to try to get up to 14 or 16 teams also. Do you bail on the Big East and join the ACC?

I don’t think so. My guess is that the Big East convinces Temple, Notre Dame, Navy and Army to join the conference. This gets them back up to 8 teams at least. Then the Big east and ACC raid C-USA. Memphis, Central Florida, East Carolina and Marshall get picked up between the two conferences. Then C-USA and the Sun Belt join forces and merge into just one conference.

So what of the remnants of the Big 12? You still have Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Texas Tech and Baylor. I think they reform the Southwest Conference and poach New Mexico, New Mexico State, UTEP, maybe TCU and some C-USA schools and stay alive.

College football will have changed dramatically. No more MWC. No more Sun Belt. No more Big 12. Hello Big 16, Pac-14, Southwest and Big(ger) East, not to mention much larger SEC and ACC conferences. Could this be the dawn of the mega-conferences? I guess it’s really up to Jim Delany and the Big Ten.

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