Conference realignment has struck college sports again – and this time sooner than expected. UCLA & USC’s move to the B1G has the college sports world abuzz about the potential next moves for major conferences. The only thing that I know for sure is that I and the users on Reddit, Twitter, and the various message boards don’t know what is going to happen next.
That being said, most predictions I’ve seen have the following taking place eventually: Oregon, Washington, Notre Dame, UNC, UVA, and maaaaaybe Duke, GT, Stanford, and Cal go to the B1G. FSU, Clemson, Miami, maybe VT, maaaaybe Louisville, and NC State join the SEC. And Colorado, Utah, ASU, Zona, and Pitt to the Big 12 (plus Louisville, NC State, VT, GT, and maybe a few others if they don’t join the SEC or B1G).
That leaves the same teams out in the cold: definitely Wake, Cuse, BC, Wazzu, and Oregon State, and potentially some combination of Duke, Cal, and Stanford. That got me thinking, why don’t these schools team up?
The Proposed Conference
I’m workshopping names. Here are some potentials:
- The PACC (The Pacific-Atlantic Coalition Conference?)
- The Coastal Conference
- The WEast Coast Conference
- The Biggie-Pac Conference
- The BBDRC (Bad Boy-Death Row Conference)
In any case, the idea is simple. These realignment left-overs form a football-only FBS conference. As it sits now, they have the 8 teams we mentioned. If they want to get to 10 to qualify for a conference championship game they could pick up some others, the shortlist would include: Army, Navy (but only one of the two so they can keep the Army-Navy game OOC), UConn, Temple, UMass. 10 conference members are the perfect number as it’ll allow a conference championship game but is still small enough that each team could play every other conference member each year. So, if I were commissioner of this proposed conference I would try to get to 10. I’d go after Navy first and foremost. If they won’t leave the AAC, I’d go for Army, and then whichever of UConn, Temple, and UMass makes the most of itself between now and when the ACC breaks up. I’d take Temple right now (and punt their Olympic sports back to the A10) but in a few years maybe UMass or UConn’s level of play would be up to par (and they are stronger than Temple academically). Potentially a school like SMU, JMU, ODU, ECU, Buffalo, and a handful of others would be intriguing prospects here but they’d have to be a football and academic fit and they’d have to find elsewhere to put their Olympic sports. So let’s take a look at this conference if it formed today.
If we wanted to try to get both Army and Navy we could keep this as more of a scheduling alliance rather than a conference. A possibility, but I think the prospect of a conference is better. If the service academies do get involved this starts looking remarkably like the dreamed airplane conference. There is also a chance that another school or two from the current ACC or Pac 12 gets left out, which would bolster our numbers (NC State or GT would be my guess but let’s assume they are not available).
All the schools we do have are strong academic schools (some more than others but still) so this may seem more palatable to the coastal elites than joining up with the Big 12 or MWC (jk, sorta). Additionally, I think this would be a really competitive and fun conference. It would not contend for FBS championships by any means and would be basically a step above G5 level but I think these schools fit together. They tend to attract a lot of the same students and have a lot of history and similarities.
Now, this conference is football only as it would not be profitable enough to include Olympic sports. Nor would it make any sense to fly the basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball, etc. teams across the country multiple times per week no matter how much money is made (*cough B1G cough*). So what do we do with the Olympic sports?
Again, simple. But this time we find two separate landing spots. One for the East Coast schools and one for the West. The East Coast schools come home (some of them anyway) to the Big East. It only makes sense, and with a completely separate football league gone is the contention between football and basketball that forced the break up of the original Big East. That means this is the future Big East in this scenario:
- St Johns
- Seton Hall
That is a heck of a hoops conference! And I know it is painful for ACC fans but this really would be the least of all evils if Duke and Wake do get left behind. The Big East tournament between say Duke and Nova in MSG doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
Now the West Coast schools have two options: the MWC or the WCC. The MWC might hesitate to take them without their football teams attached (maybe not but I could see them at least posturing). But I think that the former Pac 12 schools opt for the WCC in this scenario anyway for several reasons:
- Better academic rankings (The WCC is the 6th best academic conference behind the Ivy, Patriot, ACC, B1G, and current Pac 12)
- More geographic alignment (all West Coast rather than Mountain)
- Two LA schools are already in the WCC (vital for basketball recruiting on the West Coast)
- They don’t have to worry about the interests of MWC football
So instead of the WCC being the Gonzaga show (with appearances by St Mary’s and very occasional U of San Francisco sightings), this becomes the conference:
- Oregon State
- St Mary’s
- San Francisco
- Santa Clara
- Loyola Marymount
- San Diego
This solves our West Coast Olympic sports problem and Gonzaga’s problem of finding a better hoops conference!! Otherwise, it is a bit wonky. Stanford is the only former Pac 12 school that is anywhere near the WCC schools in enrollment and Oregon State is the only one in endowment. This would also give the Bay Area six WCC schools with the addition of Cal and Stanford. But I think in this new world order the non-P2 conferences (B1G and SEC) will have to focus more on geography. No one in California really cares about college sports anyway so the teams might as well have less distance to travel. It is not going to eat up a non-existent market share. That and I assume that the more obscure Olympic sports that the former Pac 12 schools excel at (swimming, diving, beach volleyball, etc.) will be in some other affiliate conference.
In closing, I hope this doesn’t happen and that the ACC and Pac 12 (err, 10) continue to exist and thrive in more or less their present forms. However, if it does come to pass that the ACC and Pac 12 fall … well, I hope to speak this into existence. Come on conference commissioners and ADs, earn those paychecks and be creative!