Apr 26, 2010

Conference Realignments: Do we really need this?

The hot topic so far this off-season is an apparently unavoidable conference realignment, in which monumental changes will be made to every single conference as teams will switch to other conferences, west coast teams to east coast conferences, dogs and cats living together, and all other sorts of craziness.

The most recent proposition for possible changes is from Ron Morris at GoGamecocks.com. He's having visions of a college football world in which Missouri goes to the Big Ten, Arkansas to the Big 12, South Carolina to the ACC, and then Miami and Florida State to the SEC. Somehow or another, he ends up with a new SEC East consisting of Florida, Georgia, Florida State, Miami, Kentucky and Tennessee. Oh boy. Also, Georgia Tech sneaks their way into the SEC West. Right...

My question is this: Why are we making things so complicated?

First of all, is a conference realignment really necessary? From my viewpoint, the only problem with the "Big Six" conferences right now is that three of those conferences are lacking championship games, thus giving them an unfair advantage to reach the national championship. An undefeated Pac-10, Big Ten or Big East team could go straight to the big game without playing the extra conference game that faces the SEC, ACC and Big 12. Fine. We need to fix that.

I'm perfectly fine with the SEC, ACC and Big 12 as they are. If anything, the only real problem is the ACC's divisional titles of "Coastal" and "Atlantic," which really makes no sense. It might be nice for them to shake things up with a "North" and "South" type of division.

But that's debatable.

As for the real problem conferences, though...

Big Ten: Has 11 teams. Needs one more for a 12-team divisional structure with a conference championship. Notre Dame is the obvious choice here, if some deal could be made. If not, there are plenty of other non-Big-Six conference teams that could be taken. The MAC would be a good conference to raid for teams. Central Michigan or Ohio are good choices, for geographical and logistical reasons.

Pac-10: There are 10 teams (obviously), so if necessary, they could find a way to make two five-team divisions and hold a conference championship game. If not, they only need to add two teams to look similar to the rest. An often mentioned solution is to take BYU and Utah from the MWC. But the WAC is also a possibility. Boise State, Nevada or Fresno State are all good choices to fill that hole.

Big East: Here's the biggest problem, since the Big East only had eight teams. But there are plenty of Conference USA or Sun Belt teams that could move up. East Carolina, Troy, Middle Tennessee and UCF come to mind.

Of course there are plenty of negotiations that have to be made to make any of this work, but I think it makes a lot more sense to take teams from non-Big-Six conferences than to swap around teams that already have a good fit.

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