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Super Conferences: Which League Each School Should Actually Call Home

Boise State in the Big East? Um, no.
power 5 conference logos.

Power 5.

Conference realignment is nothing new. Top-notch collegiate athletic programs have switched conferences since the early 1900s. But over the last couple years, many high-profile programs have abandoned loyalty to chase the almighty dollar.

What if there was a solution to this mess? What if the conferences were redesigned based on geography, competition level, and existing rivalries?

We took what we believed to be the top 90 collegiate athletic programs and divvied them up into four super-conferences. Considering the geographic component, the four conferences that would stay are the ACC, Big Ten, PAC-12, and SEC.

***Before we begin, we realize this could not and would not ever happen. Academics, television contracts, money, scheduling difficulties, conference loyalties and exclusivity would all present barriers to this plan.

But, here is what the major college conferences could look like if the fans/students had the power.

Next: ACC >

ACC:

The new mega-ACC retains most of its schools and adds 11 current Big East schools as well as Temple, UMass and Central Florida.

Of the 24 schools, 18 would play football (UMass can go independent). Each school in the ACC would play an eight game schedule, or even a nine-game schedule if they'd want a crossover match once per year. The ACC North winner would play the ACC South winner in the conference championship, which would become a defacto play-in for the college football playoff.

Over the last decade, the college football world has looked down on the Big East and ACC. The Big East has compiled a decent 7-7 record in BCS bowl games (though most of the wins were over a decade ago), while the ACC’s dismal 2-13 all-time record has been puzzling considering the talent the conference has pulled in. But joining forces only increases the competition level of all the member schools and would seriously threaten the SEC for recruiting supremacy in the ever-important southeast.

The ACC would swallow up the New York City market, which could serve as the stage for the football championship game and conference basketball tournament.

Which brings us to the obvious; a basketball heavyweight conference would be formed.

Each school could play ten of the teams in its bracket once, its main rival twice (SU-GTown, Duke/UNC, etc.), and six schools from the other side in crossover format.

This super-conference would lay claim to eight of the last twelve men’s basketball national champions. While the move by Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC is a crime, bringing along UConn and six basketball-only schools maintains classic rivalries. Also, there is potential for goliath showdowns between Duke, UNC, Maryland, Georgetown, Syracuse, and UConn.

Boston College could once challenge UConn as New England’s top athletic school. West Virginia could continue the Backyard Brawl and stop sending its student-athletes hundreds of miles west for every game. Big Five rivals Villanova and Temple would be brought together for the first time (although this is slated to happen in 2013 anyways).

UCF and USF could battle again, this time in an elite conference, emerging out of the shadows of Florida, FSU, and Miami. And yes, Miami and FSU are missing from the equation, but there is a better fit elsewhere for these football powerhouses...

Next: SEC >

SEC:

And you thought the SEC couldn’t get better? This super-conference comprised of college football behemoths would lay claim to 11 of the 14 BCS National Champions.

Sorry SEC fans, Missouri belongs up north in the Big Ten, but you get almost the entire Big 12 as repayment. The matchups on Saturday would have TV executives drooling - not to mention the benenfits of having Florida State, Florida and Miami in the same conference. The great Southwest Conference starts to look familiar as SMU, Houston, and TCU are added to give the state of Texas seven big-time football programs all in the same league again. Basketball powerhouse Louisville also somehow sneaks in the back door.

As for football scheduling, why not have 11 league games, one non-conference cupcake and a conference championship? If there are four super-conferences converging to play in a playoff anyways, what does it matter if the league champ has two or three losses?

It would make for a strong basketball conference as well. Similar to the super-conference version of the ACC, each school could play ten schools on its side of the bracket, one rival twice, and six of the twelve from the other side. This preserves crossover rivalries like Kentucky/Louisville. If you liked the annual non-conference Kentucky-Louisville matchup, imagine it counting in league standings.

Furthermore, Florida State has been outshined by Duke and North Carolina for too many years in the ACC, and a move to the SEC would allow FSU to finally state a legitimate case for basketball supremacy.

Still, this conference would be all about football. With all due respect to the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (Florida-Georgia rivalry), having FSU and Miami in the same conference as Florida makes for three more must-see games each season.

Mainstays like Auburn, Alabama, and LSU might have to clash with Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma just to make it out of the conference, let alone reach the national championship. This super-conference would be the greatest college football conference ever assembled.

Next: Big Ten >Big Ten:

The current Big Ten traditions are too sacred to break up, but that doesn't mean we can't add to them.

In this model, the Big Ten would add what's left of the Big 12. The Mizzou-Kansas rivalry is as old as the Civil War itself, and Iowa-Iowa State could take it to the next level as conference foes.

Adding Army and Navy would give the conference two more football programs with rich histories. Marquette, Cincinnati, and DePaul return to a more fitting geographic conference.

But, the big addition is Notre Dame's football program. The Fighting Irish are the class of college football and would fit nicely into a collection of schools which share similar traditions.

Nebraska would be able renew classic gridiron battles with Kansas, Missouri, Kansas State, and Iowa State. Ohio State owns its state on the football field, but with Cincinnati’s two recent BCS bowl appearances, the Buckeyes may finally have found a program to challenge them right in their own conference.

Scheduling? For football, nine division games, one crossover, two cupcakes and a conference championship. For basketball, nine games against teams on your side of the bracket, your rival twice and seven of the eleven from the other side. Easy peasy.

Do the incoming schools also help in basketball?

Yup. A Big Ten team has not cut down the nets since Michigan State in 2000, but seven of the eight newcomers in basketball made the 2012 NCAA Tournament. DePaul gives Northwestern a true rival on the court and Notre Dame is thrown into the already passionate rivalry between Indiana and Purdue.

Marquette and Cincinnati would also provide Wisconsin and Ohio State each with an in-state conference rival, respectively. Also, heavyweights Kansas and Missouri would be sure to challenge for basketball supremacy.

Next: PAC-20 >PAC-20:

This upgraded version creates a PAC-20 with St. Mary’s and Gonzaga to bolster basketball.

Air Force, San Diego State, Nevada and UNLV all offer competitive athletic programs, while BYU and Utah could inevitably clash over rule of the Beehive State.

Boise State should already be a member of a big-time conference and would be a great addition. Its 73-6 record and two BCS bowl victories are no fluke, and Chris Peterson and the Broncos would be sure to challenge the Ducks and Trojans for conference titles each season. This would also allow the Broncos to travel reasonable distances and give the basketball program time to develop since the PAC-12 has experienced a down period on the court in recent years.

The other new football programs are also competitive. Nevada has appeared in a bowl game the last seven seasons. The Air Force Academy would become an instant rival for Colorado while San Diego State could cause some bedlam in Southern California.

As for the schedule, each football school would play its eight division foes, one crossover game, two cupcakes, and the conference championship (if it makes it). For basketball, teams would play nine games against in-division teams, two rivalry games, and seven of the teams from the other side.

Besides UCLA, there aren't any powerhouse college basketball programs in this super-conference. But BYU, Nevada, and UNLV have each had a lot of tournament success and would be great add-ons.

The Pacific Northwest could get heated; the Zags would be tough tests for in-state rivals Washington and Washington State. St. Mary’s fits in nicely with neighbors Stanford and Cal.

If only this could actually happen...

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