What a potential 40-team college football league could look like

·3 min read

It was reported on Thursday that the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins are interested in departing the Pac-12 to join the Big Ten conference.

The move furthered the divide between the top two conferences and those on the outside. The Trojans and Bruins’ interest in greener pastures was likely a response to Oklahoma and Texas joining forces with the SEC.

College football is a money-making business. That’s the likely reason TCU and Baylor were left on the outside of the College Football Playoff in 2014. Both were 11-1 and deserving of a playoff spot, but they simply would not generate the revenue of a playoff that included Ohio State.

With Texas, Oklahoma, USC and UCLA potentially leaving their traditional rivals, we are one step closer to a two-conference college football league.

Here is what a potential 40-team college football league with the SEC and Big Ten could look like.

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SEC Southwest Division

  1. Arkansas

  2. Missouri

  3. Oklahoma

  4. Texas

  5. Texas A&M

Many variations of the future SEC involve some combination of the above teams. Should the SEC expand to add Miami, Florida State, Clemson, and Virginia Tech, it follows that these five would play in the same division. Missouri is joined by former Big Eight foe Oklahoma, while Texas resumes its rivalries with Arkansas and Texas A&M.

SEC Central Division

  1. Alabama

  2. Auburn

  3. LSU

  4. Ole Miss

  5. Mississippi State

Texas A&M and Arkansas were later additions to the SEC than the above group. These five comprise a more original version of the SEC. Alabama retains its rivalry with LSU and Auburn, while Ole Miss continues battling with LSU and Mississippi State.

SEC East Division

  1. Clemson

  2. Georgia

  3. Kentucky

  4. Tennessee

  5. Vanderbilt

The SEC East has been known as the weaker of the two divisions since Nick Saban joined the Alabama Crimson Tide. Georgia will now have to contend with Clemson. Kentucky, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt round out the division.

SEC Coastal Division

  1. Florida

  2. Florida State

  3. Miami

  4. South Carolina

  5. Virginia Tech

Florida, Florida State, and Miami battling for the state would be great for college football. The move would likely keep Florida talent in-state and increase urgency for all three programs. Virginia Tech boasts one of the more successful ACC football programs this century, even if it happened awhile ago. Virginia Tech played for a national championship in 2000 under Frank Beamer’s leadership. In this scenario, they will share a division with South Carolina, the team his son Shane Beamer coaches.

Big Ten Pacific Division

  1. Oregon

  2. Stanford

  3. UCLA

  4. USC

  5. Washington

Oregon’s recent success earns them a spot with these four traditional football programs. The Big Ten as currently constructed could add six teams. With USC and UCLA already headed there, Notre Dame and these three make sense as potential additions.

Big Ten Midwest Division

  1. Iowa

  2. Minnesota

  3. Nebraska

  4. Northwestern

  5. Wisconsin

Geography links Nebraska and Northwestern in the same division, though they have less in common than any of the other schools. Together the group poses an underrated five-team division, Minnesota claims four national titles in football, while Nebraska claims five. Iowa and Wisconsin have enjoyed consistent success over the past two decades.

Big Ten North Division

  1. Illinois

  2. Indiana

  3. Notre Dame

  4. Penn State

  5. Purdue

Independence is one of Notre Dame’s core values, but competitive football takes higher priority for the Irish. They finally join the Big Ten and form two new in-state rivals. While Penn State is further east, they move to the North division to keep Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State together.

Big Ten East

  1. Maryland

  2. Michigan

  3. Michigan State

  4. Ohio State

  5. Rutgers

Rutgers and Maryland made shrewd decisions in moving to the Big Ten conference in 2014. And while they have struggled to play competitive football, they secure a spot in this hypothetical super-conference. Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State carry winning tradition and historic rivalry into the division.

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