The Pi-Rate Ratings

September 18, 2011

Are You Ready For The Big 128?

College football conference realignment is in full swing, and ‘tis the season to play our favorite party game—The Football Merry Go-‘Round.


The Big 12 is now close to becoming comatose.  Only a miracle will save this league.  It may survive in name only, much like the American Basketball Association was reborn.  The ball was the only surviving remnant from the original ABA.


The Big East is now on death watch.  Losing Syracuse and Pittsburgh may not be the only defections.  TCU may reconsider its admission.  Rutgers and West Virginia may be on the radar of other leagues.


The ACC, SEC, Big Ten, and Pac-12 will survive and become the four superconferences.  The Big East could survive but become a second tier league with what’s left over in the Mountain West and Western Athletic Conference and what’s left of Conference USA after that league is raided by other leagues.


Many fans are claiming that this realignment will ruin the college game.  We disagree.  If you believe that leagues should remain pat, then are you in favor of a Southern Conference that includes Alabama, Florida, Duke, Sewanee, Tulane, VMI, and Washington & Lee?  They were all part of the SC when that league had more than 20 members.


Do you miss the Border Conference, with Hardin-Simmons, Arizona State, and Texas Tech dominating the league?  You don’t recall Hardin-Simmons?  They played in three bowl games—in less than three weeks one year! (look it up)


What about that Skyline Conference?  Haven’t heard of that one either?  It really existed.  Denver was a member, and we’re not talking about the Broncos.  Denver left the Rocky Mountain States Conference to join the Skyline; that nasty Skyline Conference put the RMSC out of business.


Do you think the NFL ruined the professional game when it realigned?  Is it important that the Arizona Cardinals used to be in the NFC East, and the Atlanta Falcons used to be in the NFC West?  No, the game is now one of America’s biggest industries.


College football realignment will make the game better.  We can see a scenario where the conferences become quasi-divisions in one 128-team league.  Imagine eight, 16-team divisions.  Could you see something else springing from a league with eight divisions, like maybe PLAYOFFS?


There are 120 FBS teams in 2011, and three more are planned for 2012.  Texas State and Texas-San Antonio will join the WAC next year, while U Mass will join the MAC as its 14th member.  There is room for five more FCS schools to move up to FBS, and we have selectively chosen Villanova, Maine, Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, and William & Mary to move up.


Now, let’s get the carousel moving.  We will go ahead and place Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the Pac-12, moving that league to 14.


Add Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC, making it 14 for that loop.


Texas A&M is so already an SEC member, the 2012 league schedule is being made up with 13 teams.


T C U is supposed to go to the Big East next year, so let’s keep that intact.  The Big East is now at seven teams.


The Pac-14 will not settle at 14 and Commissioner Larry Scott is a showman.  He wants Texas and Texas Tech, but we do not believe he would allow Texas to bring the Longhorn Network along.  So, let’s say he adds just Texas Tech.  He needs one more team to make a 16-team book.  So, which western team is the logical choice?  How about Boise State?  Put the Broncos in the super conference and you have our first 16-team super league.


The SEC cannot stand pat at 13.  They must have 14 quickly, and they eventually must get to 16 before they are left out of the big bonanza.  Missouri is the obvious choice for team number 14, and the Tigers bring in two new Top 20 markets in St. Louis and Kansas City (as well as Chicago to some extent, because the Chicago media market reaches into parts of the downstate that follow Missouri).  The SEC holds at 14 while trying to come up with the big deal of the day.


The ACC courts Texas and even allows the Longhorns to include their network for home games, but Deloss Dodds says “no thanks.”  He thinks he can make a deal with the Pac-12 before it becomes the Pac-16, but he is left out due to that network thing.  So, for now, Texas must go independent and signs a long-term deal to play Notre Dame.  There is even discussion to make it a home-and-home two-games per year deal.


The ACC needs two more teams, and they rob the Big East once again.  John Swafford had already plucked two big football programs in Pitt and Syracuse, but it almost goes unnoticed that these schools also have exceptional basketball programs, which the ACC cherishes.  So, Swafford grabs two more great multi-sport programs—Louisville and Connecticut.  The ACC now holds at 16.


The Big Ten has to get involved before there are no more teams to grab.  They have to add four to get to 16.  Of course, they want Notre Dame, and Texas might come along since the two schools are now joined at the hip.  However, enough teams in the Big Ten are animus toward the Irish and their multiple refusals to enter the league in the past.  So, Notre Dame does not come, and Texas stays independent.  Jim Delany adds Rutgers and West Virginia, thus rendering the Big East a minor conference unable to retain an automatic BCS Bowl invitation.  The Big Ten is at 14 and needing to add two teams quickly before there are no quality teams left.  Before the Big East can try to salvage their league, Delany reaches out to Kansas and Kansas State.  The Big Ten has their 16 teams.


The Big East has to act quickly or put up the “going out of business sign.”  They keep TCU because the Horned Frogs have no place to go.  They add Baylor and Iowa State, the last two teams from the Big 12.  They accept Villanova and Maine coming up from the FCS ranks.  They beg Temple to come back, and the Owls do so.  Then, they raid CUSA and pluck Central Florida, SMU, Houston, Rice, UAB, East Carolina, Memphis, and Tulsa.  They now have 16 members but no automatic BCS Bowl bid.


The SEC has yet to add their final two teams, and there are no viable options left other than Cincinnati and South Florida.  No, wait a minute!  Mike Slive has just pulled off the big shocker.  He offers Notre Dame a deal they cannot turn down—naming one of the new divisions, “The Rockne Division.” Texas is forced to come along and abandon their Longhorn network in favor of an even greater SEC network.  The SEC has pulled off the major deal.  This 16-team league stays the king of them all, and the payout to its 16 member institutions moves north of 30 million dollars annually.


The remaining independents, Army, Navy, and BYU realize that they may be forced to play three or four FCS games each year to fill out a schedule, so they quickly look to join a conference.  Army and Navy go to the Mid-American Conference, and then Marshall comes along as well, giving the MAC 16 teams.  BYU moves to the new league that has formed with former WAC and MWC teams.


Louisiana Tech leaves the WAC to move to a league with teams closer to home, so they join Conference USA, which will not be CUSA much longer.  The league merges with the Sunbelt Conference, becoming the Southern 16 Conference.  It becomes 16 teams with the addition of Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, and William & Mary.


The WAC and Mountain West Conferences realize that if they merge, they too will have a 16-team loop.  The new Great Western Conference is born.


So, there you have eight 16-team leagues.  Four super conferences receive automatic BCS Bowl bids.  There are five BCS bowls for now, so the top six teams after the four automatic bids are issued receive at-large bids.  The Cotton Bowl ups its payment and becomes the 6th BCS bowl, returning to its prominence of yesteryear.


Now, there are 12 spots for BCS Bowl teams.  The grand reward is ready to be implemented, a 12-team playoff with the four super conference champions getting first round byes.


 Let’s look at the new conferences one-by-one.


The Super Conferences



Atlantic: Boston College, Clemson, Connecticut, Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina State, Syracuse, and Wake Forest

Coastal: Duke, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia, and Virginia Tech


Big 16

Leaders: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, West Virginia, and Wisconsin


Legends: Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Northwestern


S E C 

Rockne:  Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Kentucky, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt


Bryant: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Texas, and Texas Tech



Mountain: Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Utah


Coastal: California, Oregon, Oregon State, Southern Cal, Stanford, UCLA, Washington, and Washington State


Non-Automatic Qualifying Conferences


Big East

East: Central Florida, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Maine, South Florida, Temple, UAB, and Villanova


West: Baylor, Houston, Iowa State, Memphis, Rice, SMU, TCU, and Tulsa



East: Akron, Army, Buffalo, Kent State, Marshall, Massachusetts, Navy, Ohio U


West: Ball State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Miami (O), Northern Illinois, Toledo, Western Michigan


Southern 16

East: Appalachian State, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Georgia Southern, Middle Tennessee, Troy, Western Kentucky, and William & Mary


West: Arkansas State, Louisiana, Louisiana Monroe, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Southern Miss, Tulane, and Tulsa


Great Western

East: Air Force, Colorado State, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Texas-San Antonio, Texas State, Utah State, and Wyoming


West: Fresno State, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV, and Utah State


Here is a sample look at what the 2015 season could bring with this divisional alignment and a 12-team playoff.


Automatic Qualifiers

A C C Champion: Florida State 12-1  seeded 2

Big Ten Champion: Nebraska 11-2  seeded 3

S E C Champion: Alabama 12-1  seeded 1

Pac-16 Champion: Southern Cal 11-2  seeded 4


8 At-Large Teams

  5. Florida 11-2

  6. Michigan 10-2

  7. Oregon 11-2

  8. Oklahoma 10-2

  9. Notre Dame 10-2

10. Pittsburgh 10-2

11. T C U 13-0

12. L S U 9-3


First Round

L S U at Florida

T C U at Michigan

Pittsburgh at Oregon

Notre Dame at Oklahoma


Second Round

Highest seeded first round winner at Southern Cal

2nd highest seeded first round winner at Nebraska

2nd lowest seeded first round winner at Florida State

Lowest seeded first round winner at Alabama



Lowest remaining seed at highest remaining seed

3rd highest remaining seed at 2nd highest remaining seed


National Championship Game

Two Remaining Teams at predetermined location like current Super Bowl



  1. Very thoughtful & entertaining. You should consider writing science fiction novels. It is the same process – formulate a what-if scenario, extrapolate, then repeat the process until you can’t go any further. Let me make one suggestion. Since you didn’t get creative in naming the MAC divisions, why not switch Toledo & Kent State, then refer to Ohio U as simply “Ohio” and refer to Miami (O) as “Miami – Ohio” and name the divisions “The schools with only one word in their name division” & “The schools with two words in their name division”. Hey, it’s as good as Leaders and Legends!

    Comment by Steve — September 18, 2011 @ 5:09 pm

    • Very clever with the MAC divisions, Steve. The way things are going with expansion mania, your idea might prove to be less comical than what really happens.

      We hope other readers also saw the satirical slant when we wrote this, and that as Steve noticed, it was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. In science fiction terms, it would be “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” or “Plan 9 From Outer Space.”

      Comment by piratings — September 19, 2011 @ 7:42 am

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