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Rearranging The Power 5 Conferences' Divisions For Best Competitive Balance

There's been some chatter recently about moving Auburn to the SEC East. With the way the SEC's seven-team divisions are currently set up, the SEC West is far tougher. Moving the Tigers, historically one of the best teams in the conference, to the other side could help set up better competitive balance. 

power 5 conference logos.

Let's rearrange the conference divisions.

Auburn's coach, Gus Malzahn, is cool with the idea. Many others are, too. 

The SEC isn't the only Power 5 conference that seems to have one really good division and one not-so-good division. 

In the ACC, the Atlantic Division has been better than the Coastal Division. In the Big Ten, the East Division has been better than the West Division. 

So, with the talk of the SEC rearranging its division setup, we thought we'd take a try at rearranging every Power 5 conference for better competitive balance. 

Here's what we got. 

Start With The ACC >>>


ACC football logo.


The move: Clemson to the Coastal, Pittsburgh to the Atlantic

The two best programs in the conference - and the two programs that are probably going to be the best for a long time - are both in the Atlantic Division: Clemson and Florida State. 

No other team in the conference has really even come close to matching the success of the Tigers and the Seminoles over the last five years or so. Both programs have pretty much everything in place to keep that success going, too. 

So, they need to be split up. This will mean that they won't play in the regular season every year - Florida State's crossover game will still be Miami - but that's OK. They'll meet most years in the conference championship game. 

Pittsburgh's only been in the conference for a couple years, so moving them out of their division doesn't really hurt anything. 

New setup: 

Atlantic Division: Boston College, Florida State, Louisville, N.C. State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Wake Forest.

Coastal Division: Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech.

Next: Big 12 >>>

Big 12 logo.

Big 12 

The move: nothing. 

The Big 12 currently doesn't have any divisions. With only 10 teams, everyone just plays each other one time. 

It's a pretty great setup, actually, save for the fact that there's no conference title game. 

If the conference decides to add a couple of more teams, then we can talk about how their division setup would be better. 

Next: Big Ten >>>

Big Ten

Big-10 logo.

The move: Michigan State to the West, Northwestern to the East

The three best programs in the conference all currently reside in the Big Ten East: Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State. 

For best competitive balance, that trio needs to be split up. Michigan needs to play both Michigan State and Ohio State every year, so the Wolverines can't be moved. That leaves you with OSU or MSU. And OSU really needs to stay in the East to keep the rivalry with Penn State. 

So, the move is Michigan State to the West, and Northwestern to the East. 

The Spartans' crossover game will now be Michigan, so they lose the rivalry with Ohio State, which stinks, but it has to be done. MSU also loses a rivalry game with Penn State, which also stinks, but again, it has to be done. 

Northwestern's only true rivalry game is against Illinois, but that can be preserved if you make that game a set crossover game. 

New setup:

Big Ten East: Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers. 

Big Ten West: Iowa, Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Purdue, Wisconsin.

Next: SEC >>>


SEC logo.

The move: Auburn to the East, Missouri to the West

The reason people are talking about this move is because it makes sense. 

The SEC West has been FAR better than the SEC East in recent seasons. It probably will continue to be, too. The East will get better with Florida, Georgia and Tennessee all trending upwards, but still, a move probably needs to be made. 

Auburn, one of the three best programs in the SEC West, is the team that makes sense to move. 

The move would probably kill the Alabama-Tennessee yearly rivalry, which stinks, but conference realignment has taught us this is a necessary evil. 

Maybe the SEC can add a couple of more teams in the coming years and give each team two permanent crossover opponents, so the Alabama-UT rivalry can stay in-tact. 

New setup: 

SEC East: Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt. 

SEC West: Arkansas, Alabama, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri, Texas A&M.

Next: Pac-12 >>>


pac-12 logo.

The move: Nothing. 

The Pac-12 is actually pretty balanced already. 

There's been some lack of competitive balance lately with the two best teams - Oregon and Stanford - being in the same conference, but USC can't be down for too long. Once the Trojans are back, everything will be fine. 

And you can't really move anyone to another division without screwing up some serious rivalries. The conference is full of in-state, historic rivalries that should continue to happen. And since the conference is pretty well set up, no moves need to be made. 

Well done, Pac-12. 

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