What expansion might look like

The Big Ten is threatening to deliver a seismic blow to the collegiate conference landscape as it considers expanding sometime in the next year.

There are so many parameters in play that predicting the future is a little crazy. The realignment permutations are limitless depending on whether the Big Ten makes a small-scale change or a move towards a mega-conference.

Here is just one outline of what college conferences might look like in the future. It reflects my own personal tastes and surely overlooks all sorts of pluses and minuses that these conferences will be looking into in more depth. But it's a fun debate to start.

Plan A - The sensible expansion plan

SEC - stays the same
ACC - stays the same
Big XII - ditto
Big Ten - adds Notre Dame to create a 12-team conference with divisions and a championship game
Pac-10 - adds Utah and Boise State (or BYU if the mood strikes them) to make its own 12-team conference
Big East - adds East Carolina, UCF, Marshall and Memphis to join the 12-team conference movement
Western/Mountain - the two non-BCS conferences form a merger of remaining teams to build a 16-team super-conference
Conference USA/Sun Belt - Louisiana Tech moves from WAC to a more regional-minded merger that creates another 16-team conference
Mid-American - stays the same unless Army prefers to join them to make a 14-team conference, leaving Navy as the last remaining Division I-A independent

Plan B - The Atomic Realignment

Should the Big Ten go REALLY big and become a 16-team super-conference, the race will be on to catch them. Here's one way it might look.

MIDWEST 16 CONFERENCE

WEST
Michigan
Michigan State
Wisconsin
Minnesota
Illinois
Missouri
Nebraska
Iowa

EAST
Ohio State
Notre Dame
Indiana
Purdue
Northwestern
Penn State
Pitt
Syracuse

SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE

EAST
Florida
Miami
Florida State
Georgia
Georgia Tech
Clemson
South Carolina
Tennessee

WEST
Alabama
Auburn
LSU
Texas
Texas A&M
Ole Miss
Mississippi State
Arkansas

ATLANTIC-ISH CONFERENCE

NORTH
Maryland
Rutgers
Connecticut
Cincinnati
West Virginia
Louisville
Kentucky
Boston College

SOUTH
North Carolina
N.C. State
Wake Forest
Duke
Virginia Tech
Virginia
South Florida
Vanderbilt

PACIFIC-16

NORTH
Washington
Washington State
Oregon
Oregon State
Boise State
Stanford
California
Nevada

SOUTH
Southern Cal
UCLA
Arizona
Arizona State
Utah
BYU
Hawaii
UNLV

NEW SOUTHWESTERN

NORTH
Kansas
Kansas State
Iowa State
Colorado
Colorado State
Texas Tech
UTEP
Memphis

SOUTH
Oklahoma
Oklahoma State
Tulsa
Baylor
Houston
Texas Christian
New Mexico
New Mexico State

WESTERN MOUNTAIN CONFERENCE

Fresno State
San Jose State
San Diego State
Wyoming
Utah State
Idaho
Air Force
Montana (moving up from Division I-AA)

SUN BELT USA

WEST
Southern Methodist
Rice
North Texas
Tulane
Louisiana-Monroe
Louisiana-Lafayette
Louisiana Tech
Arkansas State

EAST
Central Florida
Florida Atlantic
Florida International
Southern Miss
UAB
Troy
Middle Tennessee
East Carolina

MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE

EAST
Army
Ohio
Temple
Bowling Green
Kent State
Buffalo
Akron
Miami (Ohio)

WEST
Marshall
Central Michigan
Western Michigan
Eastern Michigan
Northern Illinois
Toledo
Ball State
Western Kentucky

INDEPENDENT

Navy (the only team that can really survive unscathed as a independent free to make its own schedule)

 

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Connor Threlkeld
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Connor Threlkeld 05/18/10 - 07:28 pm
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As a Texas Tech guy, I hate

As a Texas Tech guy, I hate to see my team (and what's left of the Big XII) reduced to a mid-level player on the national stage in your Atomic projection, picked over by the Big-16 and SEC.

Sure we've got Kansas for basketball and Oklahoma for football, but we pick up a lot of lower-level teams in the process (Colorado State, Memphis, anything from New Mexico). TCU and Houston are decent grabs, but we'd be more bottom-heavy with the schools mentioned above and UTEP (though Baylor would be excited to have someone to push around after a dozen years of abuse, recent basketball success notwithstanding).

Logical or not, I'd be interested to see us pick up Utah and BYU if we had to go shopping, but we'd be devastated if we lost Texas and Texas A&M. Not sure why Texas needs to go for the money, they made much more than any other athletic program in the country last year. You lose a lot of rivalries when you make that move, I just can't see myself getting excited for a TTU-UTEP rivalry.

Whoever adds Boise State adds a serious player and some serious rep to their league. Pac10 needs it, because they've had some years where they're really weak football-wise. Granted, we might discover they're only good because they don't play anybody every year.

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