Not too long ago, for my first article here at DownTownSportsNetwork, I revisited the NCAA’s realignment project. Today, we finish this series. When you look at the Power 5 conferences plus the American Athletic Conference, there are some glaring flaws. For one, there are definite geographical mishaps- more on that later. Also, some of the rivalries we grew up on have been destroyed by said realignment. Lastly, look at the difference in competition- the ACC finished last year with only 1 team ranked in the top 25. It’s imperative that the top conferences have a true balance of power. Let’s see how I would do this to create the “ideal conferences”. Before we get started, The Pac-12 remains unchanged so in their place, we’ll look at how the American Athletic Conference gets affected.
*new teams are in bold*
ACC (14 Teams): (out Boston College, Louisville, Georgia Tech)
Clemson, South Carolina, North Carolina, NC State, Miami, Wake Forest, Duke, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Pitt, Maryland, Florida St., Syracuse, UCF
Now, yes, I made it clear that Pitt in the ACC makes zero sense geographically, but they’ve had a decent amount of success and it didn’t make sense to take them away to shoehorn them in yet another conference. The ACC welcomes back Maryland from their nightmare they experienced in the Big 10. South Carolina joins in a trade (details to come later) with the SEC. The Gamecocks had no natural rivals in the SEC, whereas in the ACC they have the in-state heat with Clemson as well as 4 teams from bordering North Carolina, the recruiting battles would be interesting to watch, and the football team would have a much better chance of being competitive. Lastly, UCF joins the ACC because after 3 years of being at the top of the AAC they need to join a higher level of competition- especially if they still want to play the “true national champions” card.
As for the three teams that leave, two of them leave for a bigger conference, and Boston College leaves because 1) BC haven’t had much success in the ACC in the last decade plus and 2) someone needed to get the boot.
AAC (12 Teams)
Rutgers, UConn, Appalachian St., Tulsa, ECU, USF, Temple, SMU, Tulane, Navy, Boston College, Florida Atlantic
The AAC makes no sense in its current form, and in geographic terms, this probably doesn’t help, but if they’re going to get raided of teams as they are in this situation, they’re going to need to bring in 4 new teams from wherever they can get them. Rutgers was a total failure in the Big 10. Boston College was stuck in the ACC’s “no man’s land”. FAU and App St join because they’ve dominated their respective conferences the past several years and would be in for a good boost to the program funds. This doesn’t help the AAC get closer to the Power 5 in terms of competitiveness but sometimes, life isn’t fair.
Big Ten (14 Teams): (Out: Rutgers, Nebraska, Maryland)
Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan St., Penn St., Iowa, Iowa St., Minnesota, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, West Virginia, Northwestern, Illinois, Cincinnati
The Big 10 swaps out three flops with three teams more suited to compete in the conference. Cincinnati has been long overdue a move and frankly should have left when the Big East folded. Iowa State fits in the Big 10 far more than they did in the Big 12- they’re biggest rivals are in state Iowa. The Cyclones also wouldn’t be as far from the rest of the conference if this move were to happen. West Virginia also would have less of a travel burden if they moved conferences. From Morgantown to Austin is a 21-hour drive, compared to a 3-hour drive to Columbus to face Ohio St.
Big 12 (12 Teams) (Out: Iowa St., West Virginia)
Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma St, Baylor, TCU, Kansas, Kansas St., Houston, Arkansas, Nebraska, Missouri
First, how great is it for the Big 12 to actually have 12 teams again? That was my main focus when it came to rebuilding the Big 12. When looking at the south, it was a little tough to find new teams but there’s a rationale for all of these teams. Houston fits the region and has been a player in the AAC. Nebraska comes back to the Big 12 after years of floundering in the Big 10. Arkansas was a part of the defunct SouthWest Conference (from which the Big 12 got several key members after it collapsed) and has been down on their luck for the better part of a decade in the SEC. Missouri comes back home after years of “meh” in the SEC. They never truly fit in that conference and as we saw in this article’s predecessor, they were a staple of the Big 12 the first time around.
SEC (14 Teams): (Out: South Carolina, Missouri, Arkansas)
Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi St., Auburn, LSU, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, Memphis, Louisville, Kentucky
Remember that trade I mentioned in the ACC portion? This is that trade. Louisville for South Carolina helps both programs and both conferences. They have natural in state rivalries in their new conference and would help the Gamecocks and Cardinals have a chance at being more competitive on a national scale. Memphis gets the call up from the AAC and has 2 in state rivals waiting for them in Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Georgia Tech gets their fiercest rival in UGA waiting for them too- this move doesn’t help Georgia Tech, but every conference needs a bit of a bottom feeder.
What do you think? Would this realignment make the NCAA better off? Would you be excited for the revival of some of the game’s lost rivalries and the creation of new ones? Let me know by hitting me up on Twitter @MikeH_Draft.