|The ACC logo in 1995 when only nine teams made up the league.|
Now 15 teams are in the basketball league making for an
oversized conference where teams don't play each other as often.
I've felt this way for a long time. I have felt that the college conferences should be no more and no less than ten teams. Ten members. Each conference. That's it. That's simple.
Now, in all of the conference realignment over the last 25 years, I've sat back and absorbed all the chaos. As an ACC guy, I've seen what this can do to a league. The ACC added Miami, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Louisville over the last 15 years ... but lost Maryland along the way. While the conference is neat to navigate at times (my Tar Heels get to face some great programs) it has also killed a lot of what I held dear in this league. Playing everyone and visiting all those great stadiums and arenas. The kinship of being in a league.
Now, North Carolina and Wake Forest don't play every year in football (to that point, they actually scheduled "non-conference" games against each other). Clemson and UNC don't face off twice in basketball anymore. The round robin feel of football and basketball is gone and conferences just don't feel the same anymore.
That's why I'm taking it back! If I was King Of Sports, I'd make this happen. The 10-team conference is set up perfectly. It causes a 9-game football schedule in which each team gets to play every other conference member and a basketball schedule where you get an 18-game schedule where you face everyone twice ... meaning you visit every other conference member's gym. We get true champions and a fair shake in the standings.
If you still love conference championship games in football, we can make it where the top two teams in the standings will face off in a title game. Hell, throwing out the divisional format would usually mean better matchups in those title games. Last year, for example, we could have had Florida State-Clemson and TCU-Baylor in title games. I actually prefer that idea and the ACC has even toyed with proposing that under the current setup.
So what would the conferences look like? Glad you asked. I've realigned them using some thought and compassion. I'm basically resetting things back to 1990 and starting from there. I'm not looking at the now and lopping off teams in the current memberships. Then I'm moving from there.
ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE
Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, Wake Forest
The ACC is a great place to start. In 1990, the ACC had eight teams but was set on adding Florida State. That would happen in my crazy world. Also, when the ACC expands to a 10th team, Miami gets the nod. The Hurricanes were the ones they really wanted when the league expanded in the early 2000s. Va Tech and Boston College came along due to lawsuits, state pressures and the need for a conference championship game. Maryland would never have left the ACC for the Big Ten, so they are back in the fold. The ACC perfectly demonstrates how this exercise works. Teams move back into old conferences, some teams were added.
As you'll see as a theme, the beloved round-robin schedule would be back. ACC fans are most displeased with how that has gone out the window and every conference would get that back.
Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
The SEC is really resetting back to 1990. Then, they had 10 teams. They would add Arkansas and South Carolina a few years later and then Missouri and Texas A&M a few years back. All that doesn't happen and the SEC is back to the ol' days.
BIG TEN CONFERENCE
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Like the SEC, the Big Ten looks like it did around 1990. The league would add Penn State as their 11th member in the early 90s, then Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers a few years ago. None of those moves happened so the Big Ten is really 10 teams.
PACIFIC TEN CONFERENCE
Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington State
Again, the Pac-10 will just remove recent additions. That would be Colorado and Utah. Back to the old way ... which wasn't that old.
BIG EIGHT CONFERENCE
Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M
Now we begin where this alternate universe gets fun. The Big 12 conference we know now doesn't exist. The expansion of 1996 didn't happen, nor did the retooling of 2010s. Instead, the Big 8 just needs to add two teams. Going back to '96, the league would have added Texas and Texas A&M and not Baylor and Texas Tech. So the Big 8 welcomes back Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M to what they have now, but don't have Baylor, Texas Tech, TCU or West Virginia.
Arkansas, Baylor, Houston, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, Rice, SMU, TCU, Texas Tech, UTEP
So if the Big 8 didn't become the Big 12 in 1996, then what would be of the old SWC? Well, it would still exist. In my kingdom, it does though not in the exact form it once did. Arkansas wouldn't have left for the SEC, but I do have Texas and Texas A&M leaving for the Big 8.
So what does that mean? Well, the now seven-team league needs three more members. I have added Memphis, La Tech and UTEP. UTEP fits the mark as another Texas school. Memphis is a large school and a good program that makes for a natural rival for Arkansas. Louisiana Tech was the toughest addition. When looking at the landscape of what I'm creating, it wasn't like there were many schools to choose from that both deserve to be in this league and available to do so. La Tech does fit.
BIG EAST CONFERENCE
Boston College, Connecticut, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Carolina, Syracuse, Temple, Virginia Tech, West Virginia
The Big East conference returns to football. I'll get to the current Big East basketball conference in a minute. But this reassembles to old Big East football schools like BC, UConn, Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, Va Tech and West Virginia. Miami does leave for the ACC but that 2005 expansion doesn't happen. Instead, they would add Penn State and South Carolina to the mix. Penn State wanted to be in the Big East except they didn't have a football league in the early 1990s. South Carolina is out there and allows the league to expand south ... plus it is the biggest program available to them in the east.
THE CATHOLIC LEAGUE
Butler, DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Notre Dame, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's, Villanova, Xavier
I figured the Big East as it was constructed was going to split. Eventually, it did with the Catholic non-football schools breaking off and forming the new Big East. Well, that scenario happens, but the league cannot keep the Big East name. The Catholic League will form instead and it would look nearly identical to what they have now. The only difference is that Notre Dame is added instead of Creighton. Notre Dame would love this setup in the alternate college world as they could remain independent for football.
MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE
Air Force, Boise State, BYU, Colorado State, Fresno State, San Diego State, UNLV, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming
That breakup of the WAC will still happen and the MWC will form. Pretty straight forward as the original eight MWC teams are back (including BYU). Along the way, the league added Fresno State and Boise State and that will stick. Current members Nevada, San Jose State and Utah State are cut.
Central Florida, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Marshall, Louisville, South Florida, Southern Miss, Tulane, Tulsa, UAB
If any conference benefits the most just from a membership standpoint (aside from resurrecting the Big East and SWC), it would be the Conference USA. The rag-tag membership they have now is gone and bigger schools come back. I mean, under my proposal they will have programs that are currently in the ACC and AAC. Cincinnati, Louisville, South Florida, Southern Miss, UAB and Tulane were in the first season of C-USA play. East Carolina, Central Florida, Tulsa and Marshall would eventually join. So these teams have all been members and they are back. Not a bad league either way.
MID AMERICAN CONFERENCE
Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent, Miami-OH, Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan
The MAC isn't a big-time conference compared to some of the others, but they have a long history. Well, the MAC goes back to the days of a 10-team league. No more Northern Illinois (sorry), Buffalo or UMass.
WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
Arkansas State, Hawaii, Idaho, La-Lafayette, La-Monroe, Nevada, New Mexico State, North Texas, San Jose State, Utah State
Welcome back, WAC! The WAC died during the wild realignment of the early 2010s. It still isn't a great league in this formation, but at least it has a pulse. To be honest, it is a mixture of some Sun Belt teams (more on them later) and the teams the MWC doesn't need anymore. The one drawback is that the league will stretch from Louisiana to Hawaii, but doesn't really have a north-south problem.
SUN BELT CONFERENCE
Appalachian State, Buffalo, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Georgia State, Middle Tennessee, Northern Illinois, South Alabama, Troy, Western Kentucky
To be honest, I took all the teams that could be in the WAC or Sun Belt and split it up geographically. That's where this Sun Belt look comes from. I'm not in love with it, but Buffalo and NIU are too good to be left out of a conference but have no where else to go. So there are here and joining the southern schools. It isn't the sexiest conference, but you are still in one.
Army, Charlotte, Navy, Notre Dame, Old Dominion, Texas-San Antonio, Texas State, UMass
Here is the leftovers. Now, Army, Navy and Notre Dame (who I did earlier put in The Catholic League, but would be an Independent in football) would most likely stick around in this scenario. But would the others? Maybe not. All recently joined the FBS due to conference affiliations, but they may still be in the FCS if those conference slots weren't available. Even though I'm the king of this, I'm not going to knock these teams down a level. Though, most likely, they wouldn't be here.