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Conference realignment questions & scenarios

What to watch for in the coming weeks

2021 Pac-12 Championship - Oregon v Utah Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Have you ever thought that your school’s football and basketball schedules were too similar, boring, and unvaried? Have you ever gotten tired of playing the same teams from the same conference every season, and thought, “What if we went through another round of conference realignment and so-and-so came here and so-and-so went there, and what if that league expanded to a bunch more teams, and what if...”

Welp, college sports fans, your wishes have been granted. Whether you are regretting them probably depends on who your team is.

Texas and Oklahoma are coming to the SEC. Cincinnati, UCF, BYU, and Houston are filling the void in the Big 12. USC and UCLA are joining the Big Ten, getting ready to log a whole lot of frequent flyer miles, and depending on how things shake out so might the rest of the Pac-12 if other conferences decide to pick and choose from the buffet. By the time the dust settles, things are going to be a whole lot different for better or for worse in all the FBS conferences. Here are some of the big questions and what-ifs going forward:

Will the Big 12 take more Pac-12 schools?

It’s very well possible. Currently they are trying, though the Pac-12 is negotiating TV contracts to attempt to prevent anyone else from abandoning ship. Reportedly they are eyeing the Arizona schools, Colorado, and Utah—the most geographically sensible additions that would not only give BYU their arch-rival but also match the SEC and Big Ten at 16 total teams. Imagine a year ago after Texas and Oklahoma left thinking, “I bet they’ll bounce back and add Cincinnati, Houston, BYU, UCF, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah and recover from their losses quite nicely. Yeah, it would’ve been unimaginable. But there’s nothing like a fierce conference matchup on the gridiron between West Virginia and Arizona State, right?

Will Notre Dame join a conference?

It all depends on what’s in their best interest. If the financial and recruiting incentives of joining a conference finally outweigh those of staying independent, then they will probably at long last do so. While the logical landing place at first glance seems the ACC, I think their fanbase would be far more at home in the Big Ten where they can play rivals USC, Indiana, Notre Dame, the Michigan schools, etc. It would also make basketball even stronger in the state of Indiana with three teams in the history-filled hoops state.

Will the SEC snag any ACC teams and expand even more?

That sounds really silly and dumb to me, but hey, Clemson, Florida State, and Miami sure would bring a lot of money. I think this would be biting off a bit more than the league can chew and create problems that would cause the whole thing to backfire—I mean you only can play so many football teams in one season, and wouldn’t it be kind of difficult for any of these teams to ever win a conference or national championship again if Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, LSU, and others are all trying to do it too? Texas A&M might’ve made a CFP by now if they didn’t have to compete with Alabama for the SEC West title every single season. Too many champions in the same room means somebody has to not be a champion anymore, so joining the SEC might just be a surefire way to make your program worse than it was previously.