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In a Perfect World (Conference Realignment)

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Today the Big Ten conference issued a statement that they are exploring the possibility of expanding.

Every few years we hear the same rumblings and every few years there are articles published about what realignment would look like. But not since Penn State was admitted into the Big Ten has anything official been released.  With that, below is the definitive article on the topic.

And even though this is a basketball blog, I will focus on the BCS aspect of realignment to argue my points. I will discuss basketball, though, and all points held for football can loosely translate over to hoops as well.

Currently there are six BCS conferences and those 6 all get automatic BCS-bowl bids. Those conferences are Big East, SEC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-10, ACC. Of those six, three of the conferences have enough football teams to have a conference championship game (the Big East would have enough if more of their charter schools had D1 football programs).

Part of the BCS issue is that you have some conferences without 12 schools, who don't currently have conference championship games. Adding conference championship games will ultimately help the BCS by crowing, on a field, a true conference champ. This will help with BCS bowl bids, and especially the BCS championship game. (Think of a rule where you have to at least win your division to get a BCS bid.

The other BCS issue is of the non-BCS schools and where they should lie. My realignment program take that into account.

Without further ado, after The Jump is the Realignment plan.


Why is this good for the Big 10? By admitting Mizzou into the Big 10, the Big 10 would secure a coveted TV market, namely St Louis. They would also get a share of the Kansas City TV market. By expanding westward, revenues from the Big 10 Network and apparel sales would grow. The Big 10 would also secure a 12th team and legitimize a conference championship game. The divisions would be as follow:

Big 10 East: Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue, Penn State

Big 10 West: Mizzou, Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa

Under this scenario all regional rivalries remain in tact

Why is this good for Mizzou? The Big 12 seems to forget about schools not named Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas (basketball). There is no television network, so Mizzou's games are generally only regionally shown. There is Big Monday for basketball, but that is mainly reserved for Texas and KU. Under this, Mizzou's football games could be carried on the Big 10 Network and basketball games will be tied into the Big 10 ESPN deal. All this leads to a major recruiting advantage in both revenue generating sports.

Mizzou also has a rival in Illinois that would heat up instantly and the heated rivalry with Kansas will replace the Illinois basketball and football games on the schedules. Instead of St Louis, though, the KU games will be played at the Sprint Center and Arrowhead in KC.

But what about... Iowa State? The Cyclones seem to also be a natural fit and could easily add fuel to the rivalry with in-state foe Iowa Hawkeyes. The problem is that the Big 10 gains little from that arrangement. They are already pretty entrenched in the Hawkeye State and the addition of ISU wouldn't help their regional or national reputation.


Why is this good for the Big 12? The University of Houston is a large campus, in a region of Texas that is currently underdeveloped with college sports. Houston is the 4th largest city in the country, and by planting a team there, the Big 12 will get even more Texas viewership.

The big question would be on alignment, since there will now be 5 Texas schools. My proposal is for

Big 12 "North": Nebraska, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State

Big 12 "South": Texas, Houston, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Baylor, Colorado

The division names will have to be rebranded, but adding Colorado to the South is acceptable because Coloradoans joke that there are more Texans in the state than natives.

Why is this good for Houston? Historically, the Cougars have had a good football team, and have won a basketball national championship. Having a Big XII logo on their court will increase their recruiting presence in the city and state and potentially turn them into powerhouse.

But what about... TCU? TCU would be a good choice, if they were bigger. Their 8000 student just wouldn't cut it if the conference wishes to remain the BIG 12.  Houston's enrollment is approximately 30,000 students. Commuter school or not, Houston would help retain the "Big" in Big 12.


Why is this good for the Pac-10? By including Utah and BYU into the Pac-10, the conference will have the 12 schools needed for an automatic conference championship games. Both programs have historically legitimate football and basketball programs, and they will bring their rivalry with them. Geographically, they are far enough West to warrant admission into the conference.

The division would be as follows

Pac-10 North: Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, BYU, Utah

Pac-10 South: Arizona, Arizona State, California, Stanford, UCLA, USC

Why is this good for BYU and Utah? Both recruit well from the West, and inclusion into the conference will aid that. And by coming over as a pair (and as rivals) they bring legitimacy to the expansion eastward.

But what about... geography? The state of Utah doesn't border any states of current Pac-10 members, and that may cause some issues, but distance isn't really something the conference has ever regarded. Consider that Tucson, AZ to Seattle, WA is 1100 miles, or 400 miles farther than Tucson to Provo, UT. [Ed. Note: apparently my archaic map still lists Arizona as part of Mexico. Utah does in fact border Arizona.]


Why is this good for the Mountain West? As it stands under this scenario, the Mountain West is down to 7 members (the current 9, minus BYU and Utah). To get up with the big boys, the MWC needs to add 5 schools. The 5 that should move to the MWC should be: Boise State, Nevada, New Mexico State, Rice, SMU.

There is already talk of Boise coming over to the MWC, so that is a no brainer. The others are coming over as "rivals" to existing MWC schools. Nevada will face UNLV, New Mexico State will pair with New Mexico, Rice and SMU will pit against TCU is a three-way battle for Texas.

Having 12 schools will allow the conference to host a championship game, matching the winners of each division, which would be as follows:

MWC North: UNLV, Nevada, Air Force, Wyoming, Colorado State, Boise State

MWC South: San Diego State, New Mexico, New Mexico State, TCU, Rice, SMU

Why is this good for the 5 programs? The shift from either the C-USA or WAC will legitimize the programs (see the next point). All will also enter the new MWC with a foe. Everyone wins.

But what about... the MWC still remaining relatively minute as compared to their BCS brethren? Why would these schools shift from one conference to another, just for shits and giggles? See next point.


Why is this good for the BCS? Controversy will mainly be avoided. By admitting the redesigned MWC into the BCS you are accepting the current BCS gate crashers. You are bringing in the current at-large schools causing heartache and giving yourself another conference champion that the country can latch onto.

Why is this good for the MWC? Why isn't it good for the MWC?

But what about... the C-USA and WAC? These two conferences are now in shambles. What to do? See next item.


Why is this good for the two conferences? Because of the success of some of their schools, and regional ability to move, the Conference USA and WAC are currently left in shambles (under this proposal). Essentially afterthoughts as they are, now they are left with 15 schools between them. They could either split them up 8 and 7 or combine forces and form a 15 league mega conference. In terms of basketball, as we have seen with the Big East, and their 16 school hoops conference, too many schools doesn't water down the pool.

But what about... regionality? The C-USA is currently a conglomerate of throw-ins from around the country. Under this plan, that would just increase to a truly national conference. The members of it would be: Fresno St, Hawaii, Idaho, La Tech, San Jose St, Utah St, UTEP, Tulane, Tulsa, UAB, Cent Florida, ECU, Marshall, Memphis, Southern Miss

Using the scenario outlined above, 18 schools will change conferences. This sounds like a lot, but as you can see many will be moving as groups and either with or to a rival.

But what about the Big East? Well, the Big East is the one conference I am leaving alone. In their football world, they are lacking the 12 members to create a championship game. But when you include their basketball members, they are a 16-team powerhouse.

One final thought. I reserve the right to claim this entire scenario null and void if Notre Dame ever decides to join the Big 10. If that were to happen, I would still endorse some shifting, but nothing to the extent of this proposal. More on that if a Notre Dame to the Big 10 rumor starts getting some legitimate traction.