Predicting the new CFB landscape: 4 conferences, 20 teams apiece

·5 min read

Wow, the dust has begun to settle after one of the craziest days we’ve had in college football since USC fired Lane Kiffin on the airport tarmac. Seemingly out of thin air, the University of Southern California and the University of California Los Angeles will leave the Pac-12 to join the Big Ten in 2024.

Everything we know about the college football landscape has quickly eroded in the past few years, beginning with Colorado and Nebraska departing from the Big 12 in 2010 to the end of the BCS era and the start of the College Football Playoff in 2015.

Power five programs Texas, Oklahoma USC and UCLA plus group of five programs BYU, Houston UCF and Cincinnati have all left their conferences in roughly the past year. It is safe to say that quite a few more drastic changes are on the horizon.

There is a widespread belief that we could be facing two mega-conferences with 20 members a piece building around the current SEC and Big Ten.

However, consolidating everything down to two major conferences would be difficult. Four conferences at 20 teams apiece sounds more realistic.

So, what is this ultimately going to look like?

The numbers in bold indicate the number of programs in the conference if the schools listed preceding them join that respective conference. 

SEC

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The SEC has shown over the past decade that they will continue to do whatever is best for the conference. In 2011, they added Texas A&M and Missouri and then a decade later they added Texas and Oklahoma. So if the SEC continue to pioneer the way, who will they look to add?

Existing members: Alabama, ArkansasAuburnLSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Texas A&MFloridaGeorgia, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt (14)

Verified joining members: Oklahoma, Texas (16)

Rumored joining programs (Keep four): Clemson, FSU, Miami and Georgia Tech (20) 

Big Ten

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In what was an absolutely massive move by the Big Ten, they have made the additions of USC and UCLA to the conference. The Big Ten gains two historic universities and athletic programs for further notoriety, plus vacations to California every year! While the two programs will make hundreds of millions of dollars by making this move and improve their viewership across the country.

Existing Members: Indiana, Maryland, MichiganMichigan StateOhio StatePenn StateRutgers, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin (14)

Verified joining members: UCLA and USC (16)

Rumored joining programs (Keep four): Stanford, Oregon, Washington and Notre Dame (20)

Big 12

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Here’s where things get interesting. We have already reached our two conferences of 20 teams, but there are still plenty of quality universities available, so what can the Big 12 muster up?

Existing members: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech and West Virginia (8)

Verified joining members: Cincinnati, BYU Houston and UCF (12)

Rumored joining members: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah (16)

Speculated joining members: With four spots available, there are plenty of great programs to choose from. However, I think the Big 12 adds Duke and UNC to pair with Kansas for basketball. The last two spots would then go to California and Utah to make a massive imprint on both coasts.

ACC/Pac-12

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In what would be the absolute doomsday scenario, the two coastal conferences, the Pacific and the Atlantic, would need to salvage what is left to make a cross country conference.

Programs left (ACC): Boston College, Louisville, Syracuse, NC State, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Virginia and Virginia Tech (8)

Programs left (Pac-12): Oregon State and Washington State (10)

Notable G5 programs: Army, Boise State, Fresno State, Hawai’i, Memphis, Navy, San Diego State, SMU, USF and Utah State (20)

It would definitely require some salvaging, but I think you could almost make another conference out of the ten power five programs and your choice of ten group of five.

Future going forward

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This is going to have massive ramifications on so many different things from NIL to recruiting to transfers to bowls, and so much more. The gap between the SEC/Big Ten and everyone else is only going to expand, mainly because of the money disparity because of television contracts, licensing and other assets. It will change the bodies of area that people recruit, the amount of money that must be factored in via NIL a massive viewership advantage and slowly begin to pull away. I think the bowl system will have to change, and hopefully this means the playoffs can expand. With so many different conferences it’s wise to expand and to continue the push the game to be less geographic. It will be interesting to see what moves the conferences make in the coming days.

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