Tuesday, December 11, 2012

If I Was in Charge of Conference Realignment

By: Kerrance James

Realignment is inevitable. Long-standing rivalries are 100% expendable. The almighty dollar is king. The sooner you come to grips with those facts, the less angry this completely hypothetical article will make you.

Moves and rumors of impending moves are scrolling along the bottom line on a nearly daily basis, but where is it all going, and will it ever end? For a while it seemed like the Big 12 would be the Power Six conference to go under at the expense of a new Fab Five, but that may no longer be the case. Football afterthoughts like Tulane and East Carolina are helping keep the major conferences afloat in their journey to field 16 teams. The whole thing leaves me asking (at least) two key questions:

1.       If all this posturing is based on football revenue, why does it look like we’re headed for 4-5 super conferences? What’s the point in 16 team conferences if you only play 7-9 conference games per season? Wouldn’t the ideal situation be 8 10 team conferences rather than 5 16 team conferences?
2.       Where does this leave the basketball powerhouses without FBS football programs?

The second of those questions appears to be getting addressed, with the recent rumors of the Big East and A-10 leftovers joining forces as a non-football conference. Charlie and I actually started discussing this idea via twitter two weeks ago while Florida was busy taking its latest victim (Marquette) behind the woodshed:

@Kerrancejames: Newsflash: Florida is good…but why aren’t they playing Cuse or L’Ville? This SEC/Big East “challenge” ain’t got shit on ACC/Big Ten.
@ChScaturro: You think the ACC/Big Ten challenge is bad now, just wait a few years…
@KJ: I love the ACC/Big Ten, and it’ll stay good. But if they keep doing SEC/Big East, I’m not watching Tulane/LSU.
@CS: Yeah…just one of the many disappointments that Big East basketball will become in the next few years.
@KJ: On the bright side, St. John’s might just own the Big East for years to come, like Memphis when Marquette/Cincy/LVille left CUSA
@CS: Yeah pretty much just them, Georgetown, and Nova will be left standing. Honestly think they should just form their own league.
@KJ: They should go to the C-USA, and just rename it the “we don’t give a damn about football” conference.
@CS: Amen. Really hoping every good basketball school that has no football program does that. It would be amazing.
@KJ: Butler, SJU, Gtown, Nova, Marquette, Seton Hall, Providence, VCU, George Mason, St. Joe’s, Creighton, and Wichita St. Done.
@CS: College basketball fans would rally around that conf. Sounds like we’ve got an article of some kind for SIIJ here.
@KJ: By the time I finished writing it, there’d be another 3 announcements of realignment anyway.

Two weeks have passed since then, and I finally decided to dust off that idea for an article. Rather than just letting the conference realignments catch me off guard, I decided to come up with something of a final solution – 5 FBS Super-Conferences and 2 SFB (Screw Football) Super-Conferences. Keep in mind that your perceived rivalries don’t mean a thing to the people who ultimately make these decisions, and that this is a purely geographical proposition. Perhaps the picture isn’t painted perfectly (I know some of the SFB schools have football teams), but I think we can all agree that we’re headed in this general direction.

FBS Super-Conference #1: The Upper East Side
Boston College, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia

     Most intriguing: Watching Bristol try to play this off as the best conference in both football and basketball year after year despite not winning a championship for the first 10 years.

     Least intriguing: Any game between Boston College and Rutgers.

FBS Super-Conference #2: Fight Club
Alabama, Auburn, Central Florida, Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina, South Florida, Wake Forest

     Most intriguing: Finally (re)uniting schools like Georgia and Georgia Tech; Florida, Florida State, and Miami; and South Carolina and Clemson. Coupled with Duke/UNC and Alabama/Auburn, you’ve either got a rivalry every week, or 3 hellacious weekends per year when all the rivalries take place.

     Least intriguing: Those other Floridas and Carolinas. Geographically, this conference makes the most sense for Central Florida, South Florida, and East Carolina, but they’ll compete in this conference about as well as the Houston Astros in the AL West.

FBS Super-Conference #3: The Bread Basket
Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Kent State, Kentucky, Louisville, Louisiana State, Memphis, Missouri, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Vanderbilt

     Most intriguing: Finding out how well Memphis competes in an actual conference of hoops teams.

     Least intriguing: Kentucky vs. Louisville. Just kidding. From top to bottom, this is my favorite conference.

FBS Super-Conference #4: The Continental Divide
Baylor, Houston, Kansas, Kansas State, Minnesota, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Texas Christian, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Wisconsin

     Most intriguing: Would Wisconsin and Minnesota conform to the Big 12 style of play or vice versa? And would there be any sort of bad blood with Nebraska re-joining a predominantly Big 12 conference?

     Least intriguing: Purdue in general. Aren’t the Boilermakers the most forgettable BCS team? Maybe you remember the rest of the Big Ten by feeling bad for Northwestern and just naming states bordering a great lake, but I have a tendency to forget that Purdue exists. Sorry Purdue fans, if you exist.

FBS Super-Conference #5: The Wild West
Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, Brigham Young, California, Colorado, Fresno State, Oregon, Oregon State, San Diego State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State

      Most intriguing: Finding out how well Boise State competes in an actual conference of football teams.

      Least intriguing: People who will still complain about an East Coast bias.

SFB East Super-Conference
Butler, Creighton, Davidson, Dayton, George Mason, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, Saint Joseph’s, Saint Louis, St. John’s, Villanova, Virginia Commonwealth, Wichita State, Xavier

     Most intriguing: The entire basketball season. Oh you’ll get your share of duds the same way you already do in the Big East, but if we formed this conference today, isn’t the worst conference game (Villanova @ Creighton?) better than 90% of the games that’ll be played in the Missouri Valley?

      Least intriguing: The fact that 6-7 of these teams would miss out on the tournament every year. I don’t want to live in a world without Butler and VCU in my bracket.

SFB West Super-Conference
Air Force, Belmont, Colorado State, Gonzaga, Marshall, Murray State, Nevada, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Northern Iowa, Saint Mary’s, San Francisco, Southern Methodist, UNLV, Utah State, Wyoming

     Most intriguing: Gonzaga, Murray State, UNLV, and New Mexico having to play at each other’s home courts. Everyone says they have home court advantages because of their fans or the location or just the gym itself, but are they just good teams who annually play even better at home, or is there something magical about those courts?

     Least intriguing: Games like Air Force vs. Marshall. This was definitely the most difficult conference to put together, both competitively and geographically. Had to travel as far east as Tennessee to find formidable opponents. But yes, the east coast bias is totally propagated by the media, not the actual quality of play west of Texas. 

1 comment: