Last night I was asked what I think is going to happen with conference expansion and retraction.
My response? “No clue.”
That really should be the only genuine and truthful response unless your name is Greg Sankey, the SEC Commissioner, who appears to hold the keys to college football itself at this moment.
The only thing we appear to know is that Texas and Oklahoma are bound for the SEC. What happens next? There will have to be a reaction of some type.
If you saw Avengers: Infinity War (spoiler alert?) you will remember the scene where Doctor Strange is essentially over in the corner freaking out or fizzling out or however you want to describe it as he is experiencing every possible outcome the Avengers will experience in this battle with Thanos. There are millions of possibilities but only one in which the Avengers win.
While there may not be millions of different ways this could end up there are definitely at least seven. Well at least the seven that I picked out below.
These seven are the most interesting ways I can see this conference expansion ending. By ending, I mean it has come to it’s conclusion whether it be in five years or twenty years. In fact, every form of expansion and retraction could inevitably lead to the last option at the bottom of the article.
So which end-game do you choose?
First: Four Groups of 16 Teams: The SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and the ACC
Nobody seems to agree on what schools each conference should add but just for argument’s sake I had to pick some. Replace any of the schools as you wish.
SEC: Current Group + Texas and Oklahoma
Big Ten: Current Group + Kansas and Iowa State
Pac-12: Current Group + Boise State and Oklahoma State
ACC: Current Group + West Virginia and Central Florida
The remaining teams left in the Big 12 would be Kansas State, Baylor, Texas Tech and TCU.
Second: 16 Team SEC - Big Ten Stays Put - ACC and Pac-12 Add Teams
The SEC adds Texas and Oklahoma. The Big Ten decides that it doesn’t need to add a school for simple reason to add a school. The ACC and Pac-12 pick up pieces of the Big 12.
The ACC might also look at Central Florida and South Florida as possible teams to add in this scenario as well.
It is a good argument that if you cannot add brand names to the BIG then you are simply diluting the brand. Though that seems to be exactly what they did when they added Rutgers and to a lesser extent — Maryland.
If a school cannot make you more money then for every team you add then the current membership are actually going to end up losing money.
Third: 20 Team SEC and Big Ten + Big Twelve Stragglers
The SEC adds Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan and Ohio State. Penn State goes to the ACC. These have all been rumored as having been “talked about.”
Then why stop there as Clemson has to join the super league. Lastly, Florida State is the last one into the 20 team SEC behemoth.
Rutgers goes back to the Big East. I mean, they would join the ACC as would Maryland. That leaves the Big Ten with Michigan State, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Illinois, Purdue, Northwestern and Indiana. Those nine schools then join up with the other Midwestern Big 12 schools as West Virginia goes to the ACC.
The new MWC (Midwestern Conference? Or keep the Big Ten brand) is now essentially a second fiddle conference.
Fourth: Big Ten Adds Six Pac-12 Schools - The SEC Goes to 20.
As suggested by Andy Staples, the Big Ten adds USC, UCLA, Oregon, Stanford, Cal and Washington. The SEC obviously adds Texas, Oklahoma and four other schools that are not in the new Big Ten league.
It essentially becomes two super conferences. Maybe they both could have their own small conference tournament (four team conference tournament maybe?) and then the winner of each of the two super conferences would then meet for the national title.
Fifth: The Premier League.
Wait what? Did you know in other parts of the world they actually mispronounce “soccer?” They call it “football” for some reason. I feel like somebody should let them know!
Anyways, in this situation it resembles a major soccer league in Europe - the English Premier League.
While the EPL currently has 20 teams and thus might not work in this comparison, it does however have smaller leagues below it in which teams can move up or down depending on performance. If they move down it is called relegation. If you move up it is called a promotion. I had to look that up as I don’t pay much attention to the EPL as you can probably tell.
This Premier League option will have the top 40 college football programs in one league. The remaining teams would form a secondary league. One could be promoted or relegated based off of their performance.
This could give hope to schools like Nebraska. One day maybe they could become one of the top 40 college football programs in the country and be promoted to the college football premier league.
Sixth: Total Domination
The SEC drops Vanderbilt, Missouri and Kentucky. They add only the cream of the crop from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12.
It could be 25 teams. It could be 30. You might think your favorite team would make the cut. Maybe it wouldn’t.
There will be no consideration for academics, past relationships, geography, time-zone or anything outside of the almighty dollar.
If they are picking between two teams it won’t matter whether you are on the other side of the country or if you have won more football games over the past five years. Will you make them more money?
If you are on the outside looking in then you might as well be considered not even like the Group of 5 is considered now. You will be uninteresting and the new dominate college football division could not care less if you existed at all.
Seventh: The End of College Football
No, not the end of college football as we know it. Simply the end of college football. The NFL creates a minor league system in which there is a minor league draft out of high school. The NFL teams then develop those players as they move up in the system until they are good enough to play for your favorite NFL team.
The current college football landscape is in all practical purposes a minor league system for the NFL. In the view of the NFL — college football might have the best cost/benefit ratio in this history of sports.
The best future college football players are now in the new minor league.
So what do we call a football team at a school like Northwestern?
Intramurals or club football.
So which do you choose?
Which conference expansion door are you walking through?
This poll is closed
First - Four Groups of 16 Teams: The SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and the ACC
Second - 16 Team SEC - Big Ten Stays Put - ACC and Pac-12 Add Teams
Third - 20 Team SEC and Big Ten + Big Twelve Stragglers
Fourth - B1G Adds Six Pac-12 Schools - SEC Goes to 20
Fifth - Premier League
Sixth - Domination
Seventh - Annihilation