All Forums > Gridiron Dynasty Football > College Football > What If...Conference Realignment
11/29/2012 12:34 AM (edited)
Maryland & Rutgers to the Big Ten.  Notre Dame to the ACC.  A&M and Missouri to the SEC.  I'm still waiting to hear that Hawaii is now in the Big East!  There's chaos everywhere!

The rise of the super-conference is ruining college athletics.  Good luck catching a road game if you're a Boise State student.  How interesting does that Minnesota-Rutgers rivalry sound to you?  Hell, NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA divisions are more concentrated than these super-conferences.

What if we started all over, from scratch?  Tear down every conference and start over, but this time the focus is on regions.  No super-conferences, no cable networks, no TV markets, and absolutely no BCS.  Open up college football so that some of the smaller schools, many who were powerhouses back in the day, can afford to compete again.  Create intense rivalries between schools that are 100 miles away instead of 1000.  Make it so that fans can actually afford to go see their teams play on the road.  What if?

Well, in the spirit of What If Sports, and thanks to the flu that has kept me in bed for the past few days, I've created 22 DI conferences based on regional proximity.  12 team conferences, two divisions, one conference championship game at the end of the season.  Win your conference and you earn a trip to the national tournament.  There are no steadfast rules to qualifying for a DI conference except that you have to be able to field teams in the major sports. Since football is the most difficult team to field, I'll use that as the measuring stick (assumption being that if they can put a football team out there, they can also do basketball, baseball/softball, etc) Enrollment, location, tradition, previous conference affiliation are all taken on a case by case basis.  I'll post a new conference every day or so as time permits me.  Feel free to join in the discussion.  I'll post the first conference shortly.



11/29/2012 12:39 AM (edited)
THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST CONFERENCE



Cascade Division

Washington
Portland State
Central Washington
Oregon State
Seattle
Oregon


Palouse Division

Idaho
Eastern Washington
Washington State
Montana
Boise State
Gonzaga


The PNWC is one of the larger conferences in the new conference realignment.  The farthest distance between two schools is 481 miles (as the crow flies) Oregon-Montana.

Shoe-ins:  
Washington, Oregon State, Oregon, Washington State, Boise State, Montana

Debatable:
Portland State - Has an total enrollment of just under 30,000.  Currently in the Big Sky and has fielded a football team since 1947 and plays in really cool and historic PGE park.  PSU could quickly become a powerhouse under the new realignment.
Idaho - Just over 11,000 students.  Currently in the Big Sky and WAC.  Over a century of football tradition.  Kibbie Dome has 16,000 seats and would be difficult to expand.
Eastern Washington - Just under 11,000 students.  Currently in Big Sky.  Over a century of football tradition.  Has to get rid of that crappy red turf first.  Roos field has a capacity of around 12,000 so some expansion may be needed.

Longshots:
Central Washington - 11,000 students.  Small town.  CWU would be coming up from DII.  Good football tradition at that level.
Seattle - Small school (7000 students) big city.  Seattle is a member of the WAC, but has no football team.  Has two football stadiums nearby in Memorial Stadium and Century Link Field.
Gonzaga - Small school (7500 students) mid-sized city in Spokane.  Gonzaga has made a real name for itself in College Basketball and would instantly become one of, if not the top program in the PNWC.  Gonzaga is a member of the WAC, but hasn't had a football program since WWII.  No football infrastructure close by.

Missed the cut:
University of Portland, Western Washington, Seattle Pacific

 
11/29/2012 8:27 AM (edited)
If you took all the Florida, georgia and South Carolina fbs schools you would have a really geographically compact 12 team conference.

You could also have an all- Texas conference. Twelve teams, every one within the boundaries of Texas.
11/29/2012 8:22 AM
Wow, I hope all the conferences don't suck this badly.
11/29/2012 8:28 AM
Posted by AlCheez on 11/29/2012 8:22:00 AM (view original):
Wow, I hope all the conferences don't suck this badly.
Boise state, Oregon, Oregon state and Washington are as respectable a core as many current conferences.
11/29/2012 8:29 AM
I dare say that college athletics hasn't been ruined. 

There are empty seats in just about every stadium for every game.    However, that's not due to disinterest.  It's because, due to the advances in technology, the best place to watch a game is on the television.   That may not be how Johnny Fratboy wants to watch the game but he doesn't pay the bills.   Albert Alumni does pay the bills and, if he wants to go from Idaho to Florida to view a game, he has the means to do so.
11/29/2012 8:52 AM

FWIW, schools and the NCAA should accept college athletics for what they are and adjust conferences accordingly.
"Money" sports can be spread out from Idaho to Florida.    Basketball and football are the revenue streams.    Boise State in the Big East for football is a non-issue.   Boise State's women's hockey probably needs to play regionally to be viable. 

Football or basketball "only" conferences aren't a bad thing.

11/29/2012 8:53 AM
Posted by arssanguinus on 11/29/2012 8:28:00 AM (view original):
Posted by AlCheez on 11/29/2012 8:22:00 AM (view original):
Wow, I hope all the conferences don't suck this badly.
Boise state, Oregon, Oregon state and Washington are as respectable a core as many current conferences.
That's just silliness, unless your "many" includes a bunch of conferences that no one cares about.

The idea is flawed on it's face - 22 12 team conferences is just way too many teams at the top level of football, and I don't believe breaking all the majors up and spreading them across all these conferences will suddenly create a bunch of new powers - it'll just dramatically decrease the quality football games out there since the majors will play each other less often.
11/29/2012 8:54 AM
Posted by MikeT23 on 11/29/2012 8:52:00 AM (view original):

FWIW, schools and the NCAA should accept college athletics for what they are and adjust conferences accordingly.
"Money" sports can be spread out from Idaho to Florida.    Basketball and football are the revenue streams.    Boise State in the Big East for football is a non-issue.   Boise State's women's hockey probably needs to play regionally to be viable. 

Football or basketball "only" conferences aren't a bad thing.

This is probably what needs to happen just to maintain sanity with the non-revenue sports.
11/29/2012 8:56 AM
You can't do something like this with such greatly mismatched university size and history.  A school like Ohio State could never be in a conference will all the MAC schools in Ohio, it would just be a blood bath year after year.  You have to maintain a lot of the history and keep schools of similar size scope and history together.  That isn't to say if you were starting from scratch that you wouldn't do things differently (i.e. Penn State should be in a Northeastern conference with all of those Big East teams and former Big East teams now in the ACC), but you have to recognize the size, history, etc. of the schools.
11/29/2012 3:33 PM
Points taken, I get it.

My response...

1. The idea that small schools cannot compete with big schools doesn't always hold true.  Yes, you have Ohio State, Texas, Florida with massive enrollments of 30, 40 50 thousand plus undergraduates (I use undergrad enrollment since that is from where the the overwhelming majority of NCAA athletes are in their studies).  Then you have Stanford with 6800,  Notre Dame with 8300, Duke with 6400, TCU with 8200 and Wake Forest with a mere 4700.  There are many others that fall in that 10-15000 range, yet they compete with big schools.  So with a school like Gonzaga, I look to Wake Forest and Duke with similar enrollments and wonder why Gonzaga couldn't field a football team and be a competitive full-time member of a conference like this.  Would the fall in the middle to bottom of the pack most seasons?  Probably.  But they bring a very competitive basketball program and could always pull off the occasional bowl/tournament game.

Seattle is very similar.  A small school with a rich basketball tradition, albeit a historical one.  It has a metro area of 3.5 million to draw support from.  And local football infrastructure at two stadiums.  Could it not build a football program that could be at least as competitive as Duke and Wake are in the ACC?

Yes, Central and Western would not likely be able to compete in this conference.  They're small schools in small towns with small programs that don't even offer a any real academic credibility to a conference.  There really isn't any aspect about those schools to get excited about which is why I have them listed as long shots. However, the spirit of this exercise is to create regionally focused conferences and that is not easy in an area like the PAC NW.  Maybe I'll drop CWU and replace it with Montana State, which I had in a different conference. 

2. Would this kind of system dilute conferences by spreading out the powerhouses?  Yes, by today's standards, but I don't think it would be severe enough to hurt the game and I do believe it would elevate a lot of smaller or lesser known schools.  If I want to watch pro caliber teams, I'll watch the NFL.  The whole idea here is to dilute the power and decentralize the powerhouses.  Maybe 22 conferences would be too much and I probably have some thinning to do, but this is a fantasy website so I'll stretch the imagination somewhat.

3. The idea of super-conferences ruining college athletics is part of a larger philosophical conversation which I'm willing to have, but I've gone on to long for now.  I like the idea of reducing the power that football has over universities.  Yet I still believe you can have a very exciting DI college football program at the same time.


11/29/2012 3:43 PM
It's the power of the dollar not the power of football.  Schools like Harvard have plenty of money coming in.   I'll assume Troy does not.   Can Troy become Harvard-South?  Unlikely.   Can they become a smaller version of University of Alabama?   I think they can.   And that's thru football not academics. 

As for philosophical discussion, I gather you want to roll back the clock where college sports are truly amateur sports and not gateways to big pay days.   Won't happen unless all sports become club sports and not scholarship sports.
11/29/2012 3:48 PM
Also, FWIW, there's a reason schools don't field football teams despite having solid basketball programs.   Money. 
11/29/2012 3:51 PM

"If want to watch pro caliber teams, I'll watch the NFL."

Fair enough (although even today's top FBS teams are nowhere near pro-caliber), but if I want to watch the kind of football that you apparently want to watch, I'll go to a local FCS, D-II, or D-III school.  Those levels are all quite exciting, they just aren't anywhere near the caliber of football.   And you can't bring a bunch of those schools up without bringing a bunch of other schools down because the talent pool isn't going to grow just because you expand the top division.

You've got an here ally in terms of wanting to see the money and influence out of major college athletics, but that will never happen as long as the NCAA serves as the de facto pro development system for the NFL and NBA, and spreading out the powerhouses does nothing to that end.

11/29/2012 4:03 PM
And I'll repeat that "Football only" and "Basketball only" conferences solves the problem.  Let Portland State and Oregon State face one another in conference field hockey games.
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