The writers and bloggers and sports talk show hosts of the world are absolutely going nuts about this conference realignment. It has swamped nearly all shows and columns around the country. This team may go here or leave here or get bought out by this league. And it’s all fine and exciting. It is like watching a soap opera, where greed is nearly always the issue behind the drama. But I think one misperception that seems to be overlooked is just how big of an impact these moves could have on the college football landscape. And let’s be honest, it is all about football.
I think it may have been Matt that I heard quoted (and sorry if I am wrong) as saying that the moves of the next couple weeks will have an effect on college sports for the next 100 years. The problem with that is that history tells us there is no way that will be the case. It will have an IMMEDIATE impact on lots of schools, especially in the checkbook. But to suggest that the long term impact will last decades and decades just doesn’t play out for me.
Major college football as we know it was basically created in 1978, when 2 divisions were created, thus eliminating all the small schools and highlighting the large programs of America. And interestingly enough, there were 6 major conference in 1978, although most of which are very different today. Take a look below at the the setup in 1978 and all of the changes that have occurred since then. Pay close attention to the years.
ACC: Clemson, Maryland, NC State, Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Virginia
Big 10: Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Northwestern
Big 8: Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Colorado, Kansas
Pac-10: USC, UCLA, Stanford, California, Arizona, Arizona St, Washington, Washington St, Oregon, Oregon St.
SEC: Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi St, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Vanderbilt
Southwest: Houston, Arkansas, Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, SMU, Baylor, Rice, TCU
(The MAC and WAC conferences also existed, but on a less major basis. There were also 25 Division 1-A independents)
ACC: Adds GEORGIA TECH
ACC: Adds FLORIDA STATE
Big East conference CREATED
Southwest: Loses ARKANSAS
SEC: Adds ARKANSAS and SOUTH CAROLINA
Big 10: Adds PENN STATE
Southwest conference DISSOLVES (SMU, Rice, Houston, TCU fail to get into major conference)
Big 8 conference DISSOLVES
Big 12 conference CREATED
ACC: Adds MIAMI and VA TECH
Big East: Loses MIAMI, TEMPLE, and VA TECH
Big East: Adds UCONN
ACC: Adds BOSTON COLLEGE
Big East: Loses BOSTON COLLEGE
Big East: Adds LOUISVILLE, CINCINNATI, and SOUTH FLORIDA
Big 10: Adds NEBRASKA
Big 12: Loses COLORADO and NEBRASKA
Pac 10/12: Adds COLORADO and UTAH
SEC: Adds TEXAS A&M
Big 12: Loses TEXAS A&M
In the almost 34 years since Division 1-A football was created, the longest time between major conference change was 11 years. The longest time since 1990 is 8 years. The longest time without change since 2000 is 6 years. The point is, college football has become a fluid system. These college presidents and athletic directors are always looking for better opportunities to make more money. They are never satisfied unless their name is Texas. Does all of this conference change matter? Of course it does. It is very significant. But let’s not act like all of these changes will last for the rest of our lifetimes. In fact, I would be STUNNED if we get through 15 years with the system that is about to be created. And since I will be a lifetime writer for KSR (suck it), you all can bring this back up in 2026.