No Sleep Till Football

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Potential Conference Realignment

I’m having a pretty good discussion with Big Timber in the comments about conference realignment. With all the talk about the Big 10 possibly adding a 12th team while the Pac 10 is rumored to be interested in expansion, there is a great deal to be interested in. I’m a big believer in football being king in collegiate athletics because it makes the most money so I’m inclined to view the realignments with that in mind. There are a lot of variables that go into these types of decisions, especially in regards to media contracts, but here is how I would guess the conference shakedowns happen.

BIG 10

I think it’s just a matter of time before the Big 10 becomes some other conference with 12 teams that allows the conference to hold a conference championship game. It’s too much money left on the table not to have one. The only question is who that 12th team will be and when exactly the conference will expand.

The ideal candidate is Notre Dame, but ND has resisted these overtures for so long and while they have a deal with NBC in place and the sweatheart deal with the BCS, it makes sense for Notre Dame to keep its independent status. The only two realistic candidates become Missouri from the Big XII and Pittsburgh from the Big East. Both make sense geographically and both have built in rivals already within the Big 10. Missouri has Illinois. Pittsburgh has Penn St. The one thing I really like about Pittsburgh is that it’s within the geographic region for the Big 10 and I really like Pittsburgh bringing in a would-be non-conference powerhouse rivalry with West Virginia. Adding the Backyard Brawl to the Big 10 would be awesome for Big 10 guys like myself. Missouri does have rivalries with Kansas & Nebraska I guess, but Pitt/WVU to me is better than those rivalries.

There has been talk of possibly Nebraska or Texas, but I don’t see how Nebraska brings anything to the Big 10 market wise and Texas isn’t leaving the Big XII. Notre Dame is by far the 100% best choice, but if I couldn’t get the Irish then I’d go Pittsburgh and then Missouri. I wouldn’t be disappointed in either.


The Big XII is looking at losing either Missouri to the Big 10 or possibly Colorado to the Pac 10. If either of these things happen, then the easy solution is for TCU to join the Big XII as the replacement team. It makes sense really.

It’s easy to overlook a couple of things though in this scenario. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that TCU is a product of having Gary Patterson as HC. When/if Patterson leaves, will TCU be able to keep carrying the torch of how good TCU has been and will they be able to maintain that level of success? Playing MWC teams on a weekly basis is a bit different than playing Big XII teams on a weekly basis. I’d expect TCU to be a competitive football team no matter what happens, but it’s something to think about.

Either way, if the Big XII were to lose a team then TCU is the obvious replacement.

The real interesting aspect of all this is what would happen should Missouri leave to head to the Big 10 and Colorado leaves to join the Pac 10? That opens up 2 spots. TCU is a no-brainer at this point but the Big XII would need a 12th team.

The obvious answer here is Arkansas given it’s history in the old Southwest Conference. That would renew rivalries between Arkansas and Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor & TCU if TCU were already in the Big XII at this point. The Razorbacks have A LOT more history with teams in the current Big XII than they do with current SEC squads.

I don’t think it would happen, but it’s possible.


I don’t see how any team would contemplate leaving the SEC. It is the premier football conference and you now have great deals with ESPN and the SEC Network. If football pays the bills then there is no better place to play than the SEC with a rabid college football fanbase in the Southeastern part of the United States.

The only possibility of a team leaving is maybe Arkansas to the Big XII assuming the Big XII loses a team each to the Big 10 (Missouri) and Pac 10 (Colorado). Even that’s a long shot in my opinion.

If the SEC were to lose Arkansas then the easy answers to their replacement would be teams like Clemson, Georgia Tech, South Florida & possibly Florida St. I don’t think they’d get one of the North Carolina schools and a team like Memphis doesn’t seem right.

PAC 10

If the Pac 10 expanded to 12 then you’d obviously be looking at potentially Colorado, BYU, Utah and maybe even Boise St. To me I think BYU & Utah make the most sense, but if those two squads left and TCU joined the Big XII then the MWC would be a completely decimated conference. At that point you’d have to see something like Air Force & Colorado St. being folded into the WAC just to keep things on an even keel.

This is an odd one really. I don’t see why the Pac 10 would look at Colorado. I think BYU & Utah make more sense and I think those two squads would jump at the chance to join a major conference. There is enough academic credentials, plus those schools are pretty good at other sports as well, not just football. It obviously ups their credibility to be Pac 10 schools.

The Pac 10 could have a lot of reverberations in non AQ conferences. That would be the major impact unless they really did love Colorado and got the Buffs to switch conferences. I’m just not feeling Boise St. for the Pac 10.


The ACC is pretty quiet. The only way the ACC potentially becomes involved is if the Big XII loses a couple of teams and the longest of long shots happen and Arkansas goes to the Big XII. That would create an opening in the SEC and the SEC could maybe take an ACC team such as Clemson or Georgia Tech.

I don’t think it would happen, but there is the possibility.


I’m leaving the Big East in last for a couple of reasons. The first is that no matter what, the Big East is powerless to stop the Big 10 from taking a team. There is simply too much money in it for that specific Big East team to stick with the Big East. This is also why the Big East can’t simply take a Big 10 team away. “Big Timber” in the comments said he read an article talking about the Big East potentially taking Ohio St. and/or Michigan. That’s like saying the Big East has a chance luring USC away from the Pac 10.

It’s impossible.

A more interesting aspect of the Big East is the idea behind contraction. From what I’ve read, it seems the powers that be in the Big East don’t really like having the 16-team power conference in basketball. It seemingly works against them in getting teams into the tournament. It’s possible that the Big East would rather have 12 teams in the conference than the 16.

A couple of thoughts on that. The first is that they aren’t getting rid of any football teams. That’s impossible. That means UConn, Louisville, Cincinnati, W. Virginia, South Florida, Rutgers, Syracuse & Pittsburgh are staying right where they are.

If Pittsburgh defects then you have 7 teams left. That leaves the door open for 5 other teams. Notre Dame is staying. I also think Georgetown & St. John’s is staying. Villanova is an obvious choice. That leaves only 1 other school. I think it would have to be either Seton Hall or Providence. I get the idea behind keeping Marquette because they are good, but they play in Milwaukee. It’s not exactly Big East country. It’s the same for DePaul which plays in Chicago. The only problem as I see it is that somebody gets screwed out of Seton Hall & Providence which I don’t really like.

But I can’t see the Big East throwing Notre Dame basketball out although it doesn’t completely work geographically. However, there is no way ND football is joining the Big East ever so at some point in time when forces require ND to join a conference, the Big East will lose them in basketball anyway. Maybe they should preemptively make that happen and keep both Seton Hall & Providence?

The best thing for the Big East is for the Big 10 to take Missouri. That leaves the conference intact, but I don’t see how that conference doesn’t wind up taking massive hits at some point. It’s just set up that way. They only have 8 teams. You pretty much need 12 to have a conference championship game. That means they’d have to expand by 4 and I don’t see the prospective teams out there. I don’t think they want to become another C-USA and with Louisville & Cincinnati already in the mix, it’s hard to say they are legitimately the Big “East” with two Midwest teams in the fold.

What are are essentially saying is that there are not enough teams to make up 6 conferences at 12 teams each. One is getting left out. That one conference is the Big East. This is definitely fun to speculate on!


March 3, 2010 - Posted by | Realignment


  1. I agree this is fun to thinks about. As for the Big East, I agree with you that they have no chance of getting a Big Ten school to join them. I am also hearing that the powers that be in the Big East are going to try and force ND's hand as part of contraction. Basically they will tell ND that they are out unless they bring in football. They would have better luck raiding the Big Ten. ND will walk if that is the case.

    Big Timber

    Comment by Anonymous | March 3, 2010 | Reply

  2. The ND stuff is the most fascinating to me. The Big 10 would take ND in a heartbeat and the crazy part about it all is I've read on numerous occasions that the university would actually generate more money being a part of the Big 10 instead of staying on as an independent.

    I don't blame the Big East for forcing ND's hand. There is no way in the future ND lands in the Big East. If the Big 10 lands Pittsburgh then the Big East isn't going to replace them with Notre Dame. Leaving Pittsburgh in the Big East is a very ideal situation for the Big East's football perspective. ND simply gets screwed on the football side by going anywhere but the Big 10. In essence they are already not getting as much money right now!

    You can't give too much credit to an administration that hired Davie, Willingham and then Weis, but I wonder if some of this isn't predicated upon ND football joining the Big 10 and then being average?

    With the deal ND has in place right now, if they win 9 games they could legitimately get into a BCS game without really being any good.

    In the Big 10 that doesn't necessarily happen. Now ND is under the same restrictions as other conferences in that you can only send 2 teams per conference to the BCS. If Ohio St. is 13-0, Michigan is 11-1 and Notre Dame is 10-2, then ND is on the outside looking in.

    If they were 10-2 outside of the conference then ND is automatically in the BCS.

    The other part is the conference allignmet. They can figure it anyway they want but an obvious choice would be:

    Big 10 East
    Penn St., Ohio St., Michigan, Notre Dame, Indiana, Purdue

    Big 10 West
    Michigan St., Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois & Northwestern

    This alignment preserves the most tradition. The only traditions it sort of skirts is Michigan/Michigan St. and Notre Dame/Michigan St., but it's not like they'd never play.

    The difficult part of that for ND is now they are playing Ohio St., Michigan, Penn St. & Purdue every year. They also cannot avoid Iowa, Wisconsin & Michigan St. every season.

    If ND keeps up their series with USC then 9 games that are TOUGH! Navy is no pushover anymore with is 10 leaving ND with 2 on the slate. Even they fill it with Army & Navy, ND can't coast to 10 win seasons.

    You create somewhat of a Big XII South in this version of the Big 10 East with OSU, Michigan, PSU & ND in the same division. You can FORGET about Purdue & Indiana being good ever again.

    I wonder if the situation would be different if Notre Dame were dominating in football? If ND knew it could come into the Big 10 and make more money all the while guaranteeing every year they'd be playing in either the Rose Bowl or the BCS Championship game would they jump at the chance at coming over to the Big 10?

    It would be interesting to see the Big 10 leverage Missouri or Pittsburgh to get Notre Dame into the fold. It would also be interesting to see the Big East leverage football or nothing in hopes of keeping Pittsburgh and forcing ND into the Big 10.

    The weird part is if ND doesn't blink on any level. But that is almost cutting off their nose to spite their face. MAYBE I suppose the Big 10 could expand into a 16-team super conference in football, but for what? If they take on Pitt to get to 12 teams, they'd potentially have to get 4 more squads AFTER that!

    The numbers just don't work. The non-AQ teams who could theoretically join a big conference are TCU, Utah, BYU & maybe Boise St. Well if the Pac 10 goes to 12 then that leaves only 2 left. The Big 10 needs 1 and the Big East needs 4. That is a 3-team deficit with nowhere to pluck them.

    If ND leaves then the BE is down to 15 teams. They've got to shed Marquette & DePaul. That's down to 13. They just need to find one more team to contract.

    Life would be easiest on everybody if ND would just capitulate.

    Comment by College Football Mafia | March 4, 2010 | Reply

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