Have you ever spent an hour (or hours) messing around with ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine? I can’t even tell you how much productivity I wasted attempting to make a LeBron for T.J. Ford-Brandon Rush-Troy Murphy swap work. Even though it’s completely ridiculous, I thought I’d give my own Conference Realignment Machine (patent pending) a spin. Here are a few of the scenarios, including the complete dissolution of the Big East, that came to mind:
Existing teams (5): Wake Forest, Boston College, Miami, Duke, Virginia
New additions: Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Connecticut, Louisville, Cincinnati
Pittsburgh and Syracuse are already slated to join beginning next year. The ACC can then pick from the dead carcass that is the Big East to get to ten schools and temporarily survive, much like the Big XII last Spring.
The conference’s relationship with Notre Dame is the real tipping point. Do the Irish get queasy if the ACC loses football powers like Florida State or Virginia Tech and decide to bolt? It’s hard to imagine the ACC surviving if they lose several members and the Irish back out.
Existing teams (10): Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State, Texas, Texas Tech, TCU, Iowa State, West Virginia, Baylor
New additions: Clemson, Florida State
I’d expect Big XII commissioner Bob Bowsly to be proactive knowing that the league can’t possibly stay at ten teams with the Big Ten and SEC priming to become “super conferences”. The league’s core (especially Texas) is strong, and can be built upon. In Clemson and Florida State you add a Top 25ish and a Top 10 football program, and get the league to twelve. While neither school is known for their basketball success, they’ve at least been middle-of-the-road in their histories.
Existing teams (12): Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern
New additions: Maryland, Rutgers, Georgia Tech, North Carolina
By adding Maryland and Rutgers, the Big Ten is hoping to get its foot in the door in the substantial New York City (#1) and D.C. (#9) television markets. Adding Georgia Tech (Atlanta is another huge market at #8) and North Carolina furthers their reach to cover most of the Eastern seaboard. Both schools are also part of the Association of American Universities, like eleven of the twelve current Big Ten members, not that academics really matters in this conversation.
Existing teams (14): Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Mississippi, Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Vanderbilt, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina.
New additions: Virginia Tech, N.C. State
There has been a lot of talk about Florida State and Georgia Tech landing in the SEC, but I can’t imagine that Florida or South Carolina would let that happen. Instead, the SEC turns their attention to Virginia Tech, a strong football program in its own right, and N.C. State. Much like Maryland and Rutgers, the two aren’t exactly “headline-grabbers”, but with LSU, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Texas A&M firmly entrenched, does the SEC really have to worry about an arms race?
Existing teams (12): Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State, USC, Washington, Washington State, California, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, Colorado
New additions: Boise State, BYU, San Diego State, UNLV
The Big XII regaining their footing has hurt the Pac-12 in the long run. If they could’ve added Texas a year ago, this league was slated to become the super power of the super conferences. Instead, the Pac-12 goes geographical, adding Western powers Boise State and BYU, along with Big East defection San Diego State. The Aztecs men’s soccer team already competes in the conference, so a move for the rest of the programs (who are slated to join the Big West in 2013) seems logical.
If you think any of the above is completely ridiculous, think about what your reaction would've been five years ago if I told you that West Virginia-Texas, Duke-Syracuse, and Rutgers-Nebraska would all be conference games.
Not so crazy, eh?