Commentary

Conference realignment: a perfect plan

Originally Published: July 16, 2010
By Jim Caple | Page 2

Conference realignmentKurt Snibbe/ESPN.com

Congratulations to Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott, who completed his first year on the job by adding Colorado and Utah to the conference, thereby upsetting decades of tradition and fundamental geographic logic while making the schedule more difficult and costly and gaining little in the way of marquee teams or television revenue.

Scott's original intent, of course, was to create a super-conference by adding Texas, Oklahoma and several teams from the Big 12, plus, perhaps, Alderaan, Tatooine and the ice planet Hoth, to create a two-division Pac-16. Somehow, this was going to double everyone's TV revenue, though I could never follow the logic. The old Pac-10 schools would still remain in the Pacific time zone, which is undesirable for national broadcasts. And if Texas has such a massive fan base and broadcast market that it could double the Pac-10 TV revenues, why would it want to share those riches with so many other schools?

So now the Pac-10 is stuck with two new teams that few, if any, of its fans really wanted past the velvet rope, which means the conference will probably have to split into two divisions, making scheduling that much more complicated and competition that much stiffer. As a Washington alumnus, I'm just ecstatic that getting to the Rose Bowl is now harder than ever. But at least Orrin Hatch will be happy.

This Pac-10 expansion was spurred by the trend toward larger conferences, all in the goal of generating greater TV revenues. Again, I'm confused by this. If Conference X and Conference Y generate, say, $50 million in TV revenues, why does combining them increase those revenues to $200 million? Perhaps we should invite Cal Tech into the conference as well so they could explain how it works.

In the meantime, I'm just happy knowing that the Big Ten now has 12 teams and the Big 12 has 10 teams.

But I've given up resisting the changes to college football. In fact, I've come up with a new system that not only expands on conference realignment but will increase TV revenue, please raccoon coat-wearing traditionalists like me, keep the neon sports coat-wearing bowl reps happy and set up a playoff system so many millions want. Here's how it would work.

First of all, we erase the most recent conference moves and start realignment over.

Big Pac

The Pac-10 merges with the Big Ten to create the Big-Pac Conference (Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, California, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Arizona, Arizona State, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois and Indiana). Obviously, this doubles TV revenues. (Again, I'm not sure how, but who am I to doubt conference commissioners such as Scott?)

CSAS

The ACC merges with the SEC to form the Confederation of Southeastern Atlantic Schools (Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke, Boston College, Wake Forest, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, Arkansas, LSU, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky, South Carolina, Mississippi and Mississippi State). Of course, this also doubles TV revenues.

CONGBEUSA

The Big 12 merges with Conference USA and the Big East to create the Consolidated Greater Big East USA (Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Baylor, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa State, Houston, SMU, Rice, Tulsa, UTEP, Tulane, East Carolina, Memphis, UCF, Alabama-Birmingham, Marshall, Southern Miss, Cincinnati, Pitt, West Virginia, Rutgers, UConn, South Florida, Louisville and Syracuse). This doubles TV revenues.

WMHVU

The WAC merges with the Mountain West, and Army and Navy join military brother Air Force to create the Western Mountain and Hudson Valley Union (Army, Navy, Boise State, Nevada, Louisiana Tech, Fresno State, Idaho, Hawaii, Utah State, New Mexico State, San Jose State, TCU, Air Force, Wyoming, San Diego State, UNLV, Utah, Colorado State, Brigham Young and New Mexico). This doubles TV revenues.

Middle Belt

The Mid-American Conference merges with the Sun Belt to form the Middle-Belt Consortium (Ohio, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Kent State, Temple, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Akron, Miami-Ohio, Northern Illinois, Toledo, Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Troy, Middle Tennessee, Louisiana-Monroe, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana-Lafayette, Arkansas State, Florida International, Western Kentucky and North Texas). This doubles TV revenues. That is, if there are TV revenues for those schools now.

Still with me? Good. Because this is where it gets complicated.

BPWMCAU

The Big-Pac Conference and the Western Mountain and Hudson Valley Union merge into the Big Pacific Western Mountain Conference of Associated Unions (Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, California, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Arizona, Arizona State, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois, Indiana, Boise State, Louisiana Tech, TCU, Air Force, Army, Navy, Wyoming, San Diego State, UNLV, Utah, Colorado State, Brigham Young, San Jose State, Hawaii, Fresno State, Idaho, Utah State, New Mexico, New Mexico State and Nevada). This doubles TV revenues again.

CGBSAUSAF

The Confederation of Southeastern Atlantic Schools and the Consolidated Greater Big East USA merge into the Consolidated Greater Big Southeastern Atlantic USA Federation (Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke, Boston College, Wake Forest, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, Arkansas, LSU, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky, South Carolina, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Baylor, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa State, Houston, SMU, Rice, Tulsa, UTEP, Tulane, East Carolina, Memphis, UCF, Alabama-Birmingham, Marshall, Southern Miss, Cincinnati, Pitt, West Virginia, Rutgers, UConn, South Florida, Louisville and Syracuse). This doubles TV revenues again.

Hold on. We're not done yet.

MBGSPAMWAUSACUC

The Big Pacific Western Mountain Conference of Associated Unions and the Consolidated Greater Big Southeastern Atlantic USA Federation merge into the ultimate power in the universe, The Monstrous Big Greater Southeastern Pacific-Atlantic Mid-Western American USA Association of Confederated Unions Conference (Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, California, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Arizona, Arizona State, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois, Indiana, Boise State, Louisiana Tech, TCU, Air Force, Army, Navy, Wyoming, San Diego State, UNLV, Utah, Colorado State, Brigham Young, San Jose State, Hawaii, Fresno State, Idaho, Utah State, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Nevada, Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke, Boston College, Wake Forest, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, Arkansas, LSU, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky, South Carolina, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Baylor, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa State, Houston, SMU, Rice, Tulsa, UTEP, Tulane, East Carolina, Memphis, UCF, Alabama-Birmingham, Marshall, Southern Miss, Cincinnati, Pitt, West Virginia, Rutgers, UConn, South Florida, Louisville, Syracuse, Ohio, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Kent State, Temple, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Akron, Miami-Ohio, Northern Illinois, Toledo, Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Troy, Middle Tennessee, Louisiana-Monroe, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana-Lafayette, Arkansas State, Florida International, Western Kentucky and North Texas). This doubles revenues again.

Hang in there, we're almost done.

The Monstrous Big Greater Southeastern Pacific-Atlantic Mid-Western American USA Association of Confederated Unions Conference then divides into nine logical geographic divisions.

Pacific Division: Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, California, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Arizona and Arizona State.

Midwest Division: Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois and Indiana.

Southeastern Division: LSU, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky, South Carolina, Mississippi and Mississippi State.

Southwest Division: Arkansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor, SMU, Rice, Texas Christian and Houston.

Plains Division: Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State.

Atlantic Coast Division: Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina, NC State, Duke, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

East Division: Army, Navy, Cincinnati, Miami, Pitt, West Virginia, Rutgers, UConn, South Florida, Louisville and Syracuse.

Mountain Division: Boise State, Air Force, Wyoming, San Diego State, UNLV, Utah, Colorado State, Brigham Young, San Jose State, Hawaii, Fresno State, Idaho, Utah State, Nevada and UTEP.

Middle Valley Division: Ohio, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Kent State, Temple, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Akron, Miami-Ohio, Northern Illinois, Toledo, Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Troy, Middle Tennessee, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana Tech, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana-Lafayette, Arkansas State, Florida International, Western Kentucky, New Mexico State, North Texas and probably a couple of other schools I've forgotten and no one really cares about.

OK, now here's how the new bowl playoff system works.

The Mountain Division champ plays the Middle Valley Division champ in the Holiday Bowl.

The winner of the Holiday Bowl plays the Southwest Division champ in the Cotton Bowl.

The Pacific Division champ plays the Midwest Division champ in the Rose Bowl.

The Southeastern Division champ plays the Atlantic Coast Division champ in the Peach Bowl.

The Plains Division champ plays the East Division champ in the Orange Bowl.

The winner of the Rose Bowl plays the winner of the Cotton Bowl in the Fiesta Bowl. The winner of the Peach Bowl plays the winner of the Orange Bowl in the Sugar Bowl.

The winner of the Fiesta Bowl and the winner of the Sugar Bowl play in the BCS Bowl.

Finally, the winner of the BCS Bowl plays for the national championship against, naturally, Notre Dame.

Everyone wins! We get a playoff system AND the old conferences return in the form of divisions, along with the traditional bowl berth for their winners. If I calculated correctly, everyone's TV revenue multiplies eight times! That's enough for every school to keep three nonrevenue sports afloat, or add six assistant coaches and pay off the rest of Charlie Weis' contract, whichever the AD deems more important.

Thumbnail illustrations by Kurt Snibbe.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. You can follow him on Twitter at jimcaple.


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Senior Writer, ESPN.com