Archive for the ‘Basketball’ Category

Going back to my previous post, the conference realignment has caused a lot of disturbance in the college sports landscape. I talked about a complete scrapping of the current system and breaking it down into the four regional conferences. This would allow for a better football playoff system and even potentially readjust March Madness to fit the new format (though it would not be necessary). So how does that play out…

With four conferences and two divisions per conference, each division could host a team for the playoff. The current BCS could still be used to help identify the ranking between the divisional champions for seeding purposes. Each division would host a championship (like the current conference championships), allowing for each of the teams to be selected without the controversy of questioning the lack of appreciation for teams with perfect records that would arguably deserve more of a consideration for higher bowls games. The evened out talent also helps that cause. If the NCAA chose to, they could also simply do conference championships and a 4-team playoff system.

Time to break down the conferences into their divisions…

West: The most logical breakdown of this conference would allow for states bordering the water. The Pacific would boast some of the great Pac-12 teams, like Oregon, USC and Stanford. With the Mountain division, the Arizona schools and Boise State would be able to help create some great possible match-ups, even with greater presence of the MWC.

  • Pacific: California, Fresno State, Hawaii, Oregon, Oregon State, San Diego State, San Joe State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington State
  • Mountain:¬†Arizona, Arizona State,¬†Air Force, Boise State, BYU, Colorado, Colorado State, Nevada, UNLV, Utah, Utah State, Wyoming

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South: With a Central division anchored by the states of Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas and a Gulf division dominated by Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, this conference has some truly great competition both within the division and the greater conference. The teams a essentially divided between a northern and southern group.

  • Central: Arkansas, Arkansas State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, New Mexico, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State,¬†Texas Christian, Texas Tech,¬†Tulsa
  • Gulf: Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Houston, Louisiana Tech, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, SMU, Southern Miss, Texas, Texas A&M

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East: The combination of ACC and SEC schools makes this a very entertaining conference, and also finally unites Florida and Florida State in the same division. The east coast has a strong combination of teams that may have a little more strength in the southern schools than the north, but still boasts some possible strong match-ups with Florida, Louisville, Clemson, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Florida State in the mix.

  • Mid-Atlantic: Duke, East Carolina, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Navy, NC State, UNC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia
  • Coastal: Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami,¬†Middle Tennessee State,¬†South Carolina, South Florida,¬†Tennessee,¬†UCF,¬†Vanderbilt

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North: Anchored by the B1G, the dividing line for the divisions is the coastal schools plus Ohio and west of the Great Lakes. Both divisions boast some great talent: Ohio State & Penn State in the New England area and the Michigan schools, Indiana schools and Wisconsin in the Great Lakes division.

  • New England: Army,¬†Ball State,¬†Boston College, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Kent State, Ohio State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple
  • Great Lakes: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Northern Illinois, Purdue, Wisconsin

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Even with these divisions (which do divide some of the more classic talents), there would still be opportunities for the teams to meet outside of their divisions. Ohio State-Michigan is still a yearly match-up and could be an additional meeting in the bowl season. Texas-Oklahoma could also meet up between the regular season and postseason. Army, Navy and Air Force could use their non-conference schedules to travel for yearly competition. Arizona might be a little left out with the Pac-12 mostly in the Pacific region but they get match-ups against the best of the MWC (Boise State, BYU, Colorado State and Utah State).

I focused on trying to keep the divisions divided by state (with the exception of Ball State joining the New England division), but there could be a little more separation of teams within states that are not traditional match-ups (like Florida State versus UCF or Tulsa versus Texas Tech).

Using this conference and divisional setup, the most recent year would have had a playoff system at the end of the regular season that ended up like this…

  • #1 v. #8: Notre Dame (BCS #1) v. Kent State (BCS #25)
  • #2 v. #7: Alabama (BCS #2) v.¬†Louisville (BCS #21)
  • #3 v. #6: Florida (BCS #3) v. Boise State (BCS #19)
  • #4 v. #5: Oregon (BCS #4) v. Kansas State (BCS #5)

Keep in mind that Ohio State was on penalty (final BCS #3) and Penn State will also be able to rebuild after another few years. But here would be the re-imagined playoffs based off the actual final standings from this past season…

  • #1 v. #8: Alabama (BCS #1) v. Utah State (BCS #16)
  • #2 v. #7: Oregon (BCS #2) v.¬†Louisville (BCS #13)
  • #3 v. #6: Ohio State (BCS #3) v. Kansas State (BCS #12)
  • #4 v. #5: Notre Dame (BCS #4) v. Georgia (BCS #5)

All of these possibilities are also not taking into account that the ranking would be different with a changed conference and divisional setup that would have also changed the schedules. I would be happy to take any thoughts about this new setup if anyone would like to comment.

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March Madness: 2013 Edition

Posted: March 18, 2013 in Basketball, College

The conference championships are over and the field is set. The tournament is not filled with as many automatics as in the past and there are a number of teams that could pull upsets. The numbers ones are fallible and the number twos have been beaten by teams that did not make the tournament, but that is the best thing about the competitive field.

Starting with the snubs, each of the teams that missed out were only a win or two away from making the field. Maryland had two big wins over Duke and a home win against NC State, but fell three times to UNC and had a very weak non-conference schedule. A win over Kentucky at the beginning of the season and an extra road win in conference would have been better. Virginia had a slightly better placement in the conference and a win over Duke, but their RPI and SOS were also too high. Tennessee may have had the closest argument but failed to get a strong enough record in a weak SEC. Alabama and Kentucky both missed key opportunities in their conference in both the top-50 representatives and early in the conference tournament. Southern Miss is just not in a great conference and lost to Memphis three times, missing a chance to at least take advantage of a power within the conference.

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Now onto the tournament…

314_largeMidwest: Anchoring this region is Louisville, the #1 team of the tournament. With a possible late matchup against Duke, there is a lot of talent in this group. The bulk of the teams in this region seem to be more from the Mid-Majors. Creighton can always be a dangerous team but Memphis is the team to watch out for. The easy prediction would be to say that Louisville can make it out of this region with little challenge. Duke will have to get past both of the Mid-Major powers but will likely not meet up in the region final. There are a number of teams that are vulnerable in this region for beating each other up before meeting with the top 2. Saint Louis and Michigan State are likely upsets early but could make a move if they get a little momentum. Look for Louisville to make the most of their last season in the Big East with more than a conference championship.

233_largeWest: Originally thought to be the outright #1 team, Gonzaga still made it to the big dance with a big position. As the only Mid-Major to get a spot in the top 3 of any region, their road is going to be tough, with possible match-ups with Pitt and Wisconsin before likely meeting Ohio State. Kansas State could be the buster of this region, though Wisconsin/Ole Miss will not be an easy out before meeting the Zags. Notre Dame and Arizona could also be dangerous if they get hot quickly. The top teams in this conference do not have much to worry about as the bottom half are easy outs overall. The strongest team to possibly pull an upset would be Ole Miss, but Gonzaga will likely match up with the Buckeyes or Wildcats as their biggest match-ups.

271_largeEast: Originally sitting at the #1 spot at the start of the season, Indiana is poised to make quite the run. Losing out in their conference semifinal, Zeller and company will be looking for redemption and will have to get passed a couple of teams that really show up come tournament time. Marquette, UNLV and Syracuse are not going to make things easy for Indiana or Miami. In particular, the Orange will look to avenge their conference championship loss with a strong run in the tournament. Probably surprised that they were skipped over for a #1 spot, Miami will be looking to make a statement with a fairly veteran lineup that has been very dangerous. NC State and Butler will also be looking to push against this group, but Indiana will probably rise to the occasion. It may be tempting to pick an upset with Montana and Davidson for their previous success but these are not the same teams.

287_largeSouth: Poised to be the toughest of the regions to get through, Kansas is likely to be in for a real test. After they get passed WKU, they will likely face UNC and have trouble with the 4-guard/shooter lineup. Michigan and VCU will likely make a push as well and face a tough Jayhawk team after a few days rest. On the other half of the region, Georgetown, Florida and UCLA are poised to avoid the early round upsets and meet up with either the Jayhawks, Tar Heels, Rams or Wolverines in the regional final. This is the most exciting region with possible match-ups including UNC-Villanova, Kansas-UNC, Georgetown-Florida, Michigan-VCU and VCU-anyone, if they can get some momentum.

Likely bracket busters include Creighton over Duke (#7 v. #2), New Mexico State over Saint Louis (#13 v. #4), Oregon over Oklahoma State (#12 v. #5), UNC over Kansas (#8 v. #1), Colorado over Illinois (#10 v. #7) and Ole Miss over Wisconsin (#12 v. #5).

The final four is really tough to predict this year, though it is the top half of each region that could fluctuate and all of the #1s and #2s are vulnerable to a tough slate of teams. The finals will probably be Indiana versus Louisville with the Hoosiers claiming their final place atop the college basketball landscape.

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So much of my focus with the college realignment with the NCAA has been on the ACC and the B1G because of my connection with Maryland, but some significant news has been brewing for some time about the state of the Big East. Seven Catholic schools have had enough of the realignment and the continued dismantling of the Big East. West Virginia left for the Big 12. Pittsburgh and Syracuse are joining the ACC next season and Louisville is joining the following year. Rutgers is following Maryland to the B1G, while Notre Dame has decided to choose their partial alignment with the ACC. So what is left with the Big East?

That was the very question asked by the Catholic 7 (Georgetown, Depaul, Villanova, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall and St. John’s). These are not major football schools, but their mission statements and athletic foci are in alignment. Seeing the writing on the wall, they connected and talked with the current commissioner about a division. The agreement is all but finished. It is inevitable. The Big East is…not dead?

The Catholic 7 are going to be their own conference and slowly add in similar colleges, including Xavier, Dayton, St. Louis, Butler and Creighton over the next two years. The poaching will continue, as they look to get their conference up to the 12 teams needed for a conference tournament champion that would arguably be competitive with the power conferences. Not only are the Catholic 7 getting the chance to leave so quickly, but they get 2 additional prizes…the Big East name and their conference tournament in Madison Square Garden. This leave the current remaining teams in the Big East without a name or consistent identity.

The remaining teams after all of the other transition (UConn, Cincinnati and South Florida) are looking to add a very wide array of teams to fill the gaps, including East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Temple, Tulane and Central Florida. The get their numbers up to 12, they are also looking to add Tulsa and Navy. With less of a consistent identity than the other conferences (big institution type or region), the current name being tossed around is America 12. It is difficult to think that these teams are excited about the hodgepodge nature they have been thrown together and have to be concerned about other poaching or moves. UConn wanted desperately to move to the ACC but Louisville was taken instead. They could try to make another play, and there is always the possibility of the B1G to go after UVA and/or UNC, causing the ACC to poach other teams from the Big East/America 12.

The fate of the Big East/America 12 is still yet to be written, but there will be more moves and surprises within the next year to bring this question to light.

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AMERICA12

Maryland’s decision to accept the invitation to the B1G was met with a lot of animosity. Duke and the ACC board have all but abandoned the Terps, claiming that the move lacks appreciation for the conference they helped develop. While that point cannot be argued, the Terps were put in a tough position. The major programs have not been performing at a level that demands the media and $$$ attention, leading to the dissolution of several smaller athletic programs. Support for the athletic program is there, but other conferences have been making moves to position themselves for more longevity through television contracts and other mergers. While I am not fully in support of leaving the ACC, I am starting to come back around on the excitement level for a few significant reasons:

State of College Basketball: It could be argued that leaving the ACC is a puzzling move, particularly with the slow dissolution of the Big East. On the other hand, the B1G has proven that they are able to compete and are currently one of the best conferences with the best chance of sending the most teams deep into March Madness. There are currently 6 teams that have at least 20 wins and 5 of them are ranked in the top 25. B1G teams are proving that they are competitive and Maryland could slide right in there and actually improve with a new recruiting base. Taking the fight to Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and others on a regular basis still also leaves the possibility for the Terps to get a bragging rights win against an ACC in the Challenge each year. That win could come at the expense of teams like UNC, Virginia or Duke.

Football Opportunities:¬†The Terps will not compete within the first few years of the B1G. Their recruiting is not to the level of Ohio State or Michigan, but the ACC is not a powerhouse in football. With other conference realignments potentially going after teams like FSU, Clemson and UNC, the limited talent of the ACC could still be at risk. Louisville improved the ACC’s position slightly, but not much more than Maryland’s departure. It will all come down to two things: the short-term success of Randy Edsall to take advantage of his opportunity to turn the program around and the long-term opportunity for the school to live up to the reputation of B1G football.

Lacrosse Leaders: Maryland will be bringing a major change to B1G lacrosse. Currently, there are not enough teams in the conference to get recognized at a national level. There are strong teams that cannot get the same recognition without an established conference league. Not only is Maryland bringing the organization to the conference, but they will also be able to assert themselves as a frontrunner to lead the conference (at least during their initial installation in the conference).

Media $$$ and Growth: Assuming the school can get beyond the high price tag for leaving the ACC, Maryland has a chance to bring back a couple of the lost programs and eventually return all of them to the campus. In addition, the Terps could use the media contract to expand some of their current major programs to battle the problems of competitiveness.

Academic Boosts: The move to the B1G means joining the B1G consortium, meaning collaborations and research opportunities.

There are still some major hurdles for the Terps to get over (exit $$$, transition issues and encouraging the fan base), but this is a change we as Terp Nation will have to get used to.

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UMD Rocks the Flash Mob

Posted: February 19, 2013 in Basketball, College

There were two really big stories to come out of the University of Maryland on Saturday night: the Terps winning against top-ranked Duke and the student section’s coordinated dancing during two timeouts.

On the side of basketball, Maryland entered the game with a decent overall record but lacking quality wins (except for one of NC State back in January). The team has seemed like it has been on the verge of bursting into the competitive scene for weeks but has failed to win some of the highly needed games. Duke, on the other hand, was sitting with only 2 losses and has had a handful of quality wins outside of the conference (and losses to only ACC top-ranked Miami and NC State). The Blue Devils were ranked #2 in the AP and #1 with the RPI. To Maryland, it does not matter what the record is or what has been accomplished between the two teams. The Terps come to play when Duke enters Comcast, and this was going to be the last game between these 2 teams at Comcast prior to Maryland’s move to the Big Ten.

Alex Len was the focal point of the offense throughout the game, dominating the inside and allowing the Terps to box out/out-rebound the Blue Devils. Seth Allen was the second leading scorer but had to overcome 8 turnovers as he struggled to maintain the point. Dez Wells played balanced overall but was not a dominate force on offense and fouled out before the end of the game. On the other side, Seth Curry racked up the high score of the night of 25 points and the other guards also scored in double figures (Cook – 18, Sulaimon – 16). The surprise for the Terps was how well Len was able to keep Duke’s inside game uneasy, with Mason Plumlee failing to break 4 points. The Terps held on after a pair of free throws and a missed final shot at the buzz by Duke, but the Terps dominated the game with 60% shooting, double the rebounding (38-17) and getting to the line much more than the Blue Devils (25-34/15-21).

Now there was the flash mob. The students arrived in the arena over 3 hours prior to the game to grab their premium seats and learn the dance steps and songs to be used throughout the game. While this is something that normally teams like Duke do, Maryland decided to go big for this final game at Comcast with Duke in the ACC. During an extended timeout in the 1st half, the music started to play and the Turgeonites began to dance. All of a sudden, the rest of the student section burst out of their seats to the music and danced around like they were professionals. The fun returned in the 2nd half with the Harlem Shake. ESPN’s Around the Horn did an off-air bit while they watched the video posted by the school. It was quite a sight to see.

There are a mix of emotions at the moment. At a time when it seemed that the college landscape had settled, a new revelation has set in motion a new set of dominos that keeps the door open for even more moves. Maryland has been in talks throughout the weekend to make the expensive move to the B1G Ten, followed by Rutgers agreeing to follow suit. This afternoon, President Loh, Kevin Anderson, Jim Delany and the host of Maryland’s coaching staff stood before the media and announced that the decision had been approved by the Board of Regents and Maryland would officially joined the B1G Ten for the Fall 2014 season. Rutgers will be making their announcement on Tuesday.

From a personal perspective, I am completely torn. I know that the main motivation for this move is money, but there are so many different challenges at the same time. Let me break it down (though the positive list is fairly minimal)…

Positives

  • $$$$$$ – Maryland will receive a bigger television contract with the B1G Ten than they would ever get in the ACC. Enough said.
  • Stability – The money is part of the equation. With the strapped for cash operations of the past few years, the program could start to turn attention from fundraising back to coaching and expanding. There is also the possibility of a continually changing realignment process and Maryland will at least have their position cemented. The Big East is definitely still in jeopardy and the ACC may also be less stable than it appears.
  • The B1G Ten was looking for a market expansion, which it gets with UMD (Baltimore/DC) and Rutgers (NY/NJ), though how Rutgers is a big enough school is a little farfetched.
  • New rivalries – The ACC’s realignment was going to create new challenges for Maryland’s matchups. The basketball schedule was going to eliminate the 2-game setups with UNC and Duke for Home & Home matchups with Virginia and Pittsburgh. Had Maryland been able to get one of the North Carolina schools and Syracuse, there may have been more they would be losing in the men’s basketball arena. Matching up with Indiana, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Michigan State is not the same but also not as huge of a loss. At the same time, ACC football is not impressive, so the B1G Ten is a definite upgrade.
  • Potential recovery of the program – In the past few years, the school has struggled with the threat to and eventual loss of multiple athletic programs.
  • Recruiting – Tied into this is also the lack of strength in Maryland’s football program with the ACC. The lack of rivals and consistency in performance has hurt Maryland from attracting competition away from regional schools in other conferences and even other schools in the ACC. Stronger competition could open new doors for developing a stronger program.

Negatives

  • Tradition lost – Maryland was a founding member of the ACC. They have a history in all of their sports, particularly in basketball, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey. Men’s and women’s basketball against UNC and Duke are the biggest games of the year. While there is still opportunity to schedule early season matchups with these schools, nothing beats the ACC in excitement in college basketball.
  • Loss of identity – While Maryland struggled to identify and gain foundational rivals in the ACC, they have always been an ACC school. The B1G Ten does not seem excited to welcome us in.
  • Competitiveness – This is a problem on both sides. Football is significantly more talented in the B1G Ten, so it is difficult to understand how Maryland will be able to compete with the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Penn State. On the other hand, Maryland’s programs in women’s basketball, soccer and field hockey matchup so much better with the likes of UVA, UNC and Duke than the best of the B1G Ten. Maryland may come out a winner in those sports, but some nifty scheduling magic will have to take place to ensure that there are still matchups against the best the ACC has to offer.
  • Lacrosse – The B1G Ten does not have lacrosse and Maryland boasts one of the best programs in the nation. The ACC will probably not be happy to entertain that Maryland remains a member in just 1 sport. Will Maryland have to channel Notre Dame and become a Division 1 Independent to keep the program afloat?
  • Image in question – Maryland has gone through several years of tough image problems. Debbie Yow and the administration during her leadership conducted some questionable financial management and business practices that put the school in a position to have to cut some longstanding and successful teams. When Kevin Anderson came in, he fired Ralph Friedgen and managed the dissolution of those unprofitable teams, cutting some marketable interest from prospective students. This move came out as a surprise without any significant public discussion more than days before the official announcement. This raises questions as to why the move took place in he public eye so quickly and will the school be looking at some interesting investigations in the near future that uncover the shady business practices that led to this move?
  • Is Maryland being used? – The B1G Ten’s motivation is clear ($$$$$$). What about Under Armour? Kevin Plank is strongly for this deal because it opens him up to an entirely new market that is not challenged by Nike with the strong UNC connection. Maryland could be collateral damage for an attempt at a new market.

Additional Effects

  • Expansion of certain programs – The B1G Ten would certainly get a boost from the addition of Maryland lacrosse (if they can get up to 6 teams for an automatic bid), soccer and field hockey. Maryland basketball also has a great history and would add a little something to the conference.
  • Continued drama for the Big East – As another team prepares to leave the Big East, the conference is scrambling to keep its current members. Pitt, Syracuse and Rutgers are all dodging for the ACC. UConn could be right behind them. It is only a matter of time that Louisville and Cincinnati wise up to maintain competitiveness in football. The new additions are also going to start having second thoughts due to the lack of strength of the conference and the ridiculous travel schedule. It will not take long for San Diego State, Houston, Boise State and SMU to also wise up and find their way into more regional conference that make sense.
  • Continued realignment to SUPER conferences – Louisville and Cincinnati would be strong candidates to take the B1G Ten up to 16 teams. Notre Dame could also decide that they are a better fit for the B1G Ten and jump the ACC ship, causing one of the other teams to go ACC. SDSU and Boise State would probably go to the Pac-12. Houston and SMU would fit in with the competitiveness of the Big 12. South Florida, Memphis, Temple and UCF could be the odd schools out, as the SEC has shown no interest in taking on more Florida teams (and they would want more competitiveness from the likes of FSU or Miami over South Florida and UCF).
  • SUPER conferences to the extreme –¬†Even the ACC could be in trouble with these continued moves. There have been thoughts that UNC would make an eventual strong addition to the B1G Ten structure, and Kansas also is a member of the Association of American Universities (which is a prerequisite for the B1G Ten). The ACC could follow the pattern of the Big East, losing North Carolina teams to the B1G Ten and/or Big 12. FSU, Miami, Georgia Tech and Clemson would go south to the SEC. Boston College, Syracuse, Pitt and the Virginia schools would have a tough sell to figure out which conference they fit into, but the B1G Ten would make the most sense regionally.

It is a done deal, so there is no sense trying to deny that it is happening. Let’s just sit back and enjoy the ride, I guess…

So I have been interested for a while about the movement of teams from one conference to another and it can easily be frustrating to see rivalries split up, fines from the conference organizations for leaving and waiting times for teams sitting in limbo. West Virginia, TCU, Missouri, Temple and Texas A&M are just a few changes to the landscape this year, but a trail of addition changes are on the horizon. Syracuse, Pitt, Boise State, Air Force, SMU, San Diego State, Memphis and Houston are only a year or two away from making their changes, but I have to believe that this is not the end of the conversation because there are still some other challenges with these changes.

First of all, the Mountain West conference has been gutted and no longer with have the opportunity to compete at football. Even the commissioner believes that their football days are over for a while after this season. The major conferences are all out of alignment right now as well. The Big East is trying to maintain 16 teams for basketball, but then you have the Big-10 at 12 teams, the Big-12 at 10 teams (although this is changing) and each conference with a different number of total teams. The Big East also has the problem of being one personality as a football conference and another as a basketball conference.

With the addition of the playoff system, there is also a new challenge of determining who deserves to make it to football’s version of the big dance. If there were only 4 major conferences, you could send the top team from each to the playoff. If it was expanded to a 6-team playoff, you could give the voted top 2 teams a bye and run the playoff like a conference playoff in the NFL. The strength of the conferences is currently extremely lopsided whether you talk basketball or football.

So this means that a major realignment may be in need across the landscape of D-1a sports, at least one large enough to match the needs of the current landscape. I played this game a bit during the drama of the Big East and the movement of multiple schools in 2011, but I would like to try again and recognize that the problem expands to more than just the challenging Big East arrangement, but consider the survival or conversation of some of the mid-major conferences. Here is my attempt:

ACC

  • Atlantic:¬†Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, NC State, Wake Forest, Syracuse
  • Coastal: Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, UNC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Pitt

Great American Conference – GAC (formerly the Big 12)

  • North: Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State,¬†West Virginia,¬†Temple,¬†Cincinnati
  • South:¬†Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor,¬†TCU

Big 14 (formerly the Big Ten)

  • Legends: Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern, Minnesota,¬†Connecticut
  • Leaders: Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Indiana,¬†Rutgers

Pac-14

  • North: Stanford, California, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, Boise State
  • South:¬†USC, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, UCLA, Utah,¬†San Diego State

SEC

  • East:¬†Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisville
  • West:¬†LSU, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State,¬†Texas A&M

Big East (basketball only; independents for D1a otherwise)

  • Notre Dame, St. John’s, Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, Seton Hall, Providence, Depaul, South Florida, Xavier, George Washington, ODU

Conference USA

  • East:¬†UAB,¬†SMU,¬†Houston,¬†Tulane, Northern Illinois,¬†North Texas
  • West:¬†Rice, UTEP,¬†Colorado State,¬†Wyoming,¬†UNLV,¬†New Mexico

Mid-American

  • East:¬†Ohio, Bowling Green, Miami (OH), Buffalo, Akron, Massachusetts
  • West:¬†Ball State, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Toledo, Central Michigan,¬†Kent State

Sun Belt

  • East:¬†FIU, FAU, Middle Tennessee State,¬†UCF, East Carolina,¬†Memphis
  • West:¬†Troy, Western Kentucky,¬†Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe,¬†Southern Miss

Additional Independents

  • BYU, Army, Navy,¬†Air Force,¬†Marshall

This organization allows for a couple of interesting things. The power conferences (ACC, GAC, Big 14, Pac 14 and SEC) all even out at 14-team, 2-division conferences. This could also result in extra consideration for how to move forward with the playoff system. The 4-team playoff seems to push for there to be a dissolution of the ACC and possibly the Big East, even after putting the effort into realignment. Both conferences are currently vulnerable to getting picked apart and turned into 18-team conferences. With this 14-team setup for each conference, there could be 5 automatic qualifiers and an additional slot for an independent, mid-major or 2nd deserving power conference team. Many of the rivalries in football are still maintain and some are actually revitalized with the addition of new teams (Louisville/Kentucky in the same division and Maryland/Syracuse reconnecting to develop a new focus for the Terps’ athletic focus). Boise State finally gets into a deserving position to prove their value as a power conference team.

The problem is that the current movement with the 4-team playoff would suggest that the ACC and Big East are going to be left out in the cold. Their television contracts could fizzle and die out, causing both conferences to get picked apart by the remaining 4 power conferences. Since the Big East has no chance of stepping up as a power football conference with their current presentation, the ACC would have a shot at using a partnership with Notre Dame to also solidify the foundation of the ACC, keep FSU from bailing and possibly also attract Connecticut to come over. If the ACC fails to attract Notre Dame or prove its ability to compete with the SEC and Big 12 teams, the new makeup (at least with the power conferences) could look like this…

Great American Conference – GAC (formerly the Big 12)

  • North:¬†Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State,¬†West Virginia,¬†Temple,¬†Virginia Tech,¬†UNC, Duke, Pitt
  • South:¬†Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State,¬†Miami, Florida State,¬†Georgia Tech,¬†Clemson,¬†South Florida

Big 14 (formerly the Big Ten)

  • Legends:¬†Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Minnesota,¬†Connecticut,¬†Boston College,¬†Cincinnati,¬†Syracuse, Connecticut
  • Leaders:¬†Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Indiana,¬†Rutgers, Maryland, Virginia

Pac-14

  • North:¬†Stanford, California, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State,¬†Boise State,¬†Nebraska, Iowa
  • South:¬†USC, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, UCLA, Utah,¬†San Diego State,¬†Baylor,¬†TCU

SEC

  • East:¬†Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Tennessee,¬†Louisville, Wake Forest, NC State, Missouri
  • West:¬†LSU, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State,¬†Kentucky,¬†Texas A&M, SMU

I think that some big conversations need to happen, and if there is going to be some sort of support for this big four setup for the playoff system, then another option would have to be considered. Realign the teams by region and eliminate the current conferences. This would be the new alignment…

Eastern Atlantic Conference 20

  • North: Army, Boston College, Connecticut, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple
  • South: Cincinnati,¬†Duke, Maryland, Navy, NC State, Ohio State, UNC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

Pacific Mountain Conference 20

  • Coastal: Arizona, California, Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, USC, San Diego State, Stanford, Washington, Washington State
  • Mountain:¬†Air Force,¬†Arizona State,¬†Boise State, BYU, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, UNLV, Utah, Wyoming

Southeastern Conference 20

  • North:¬†Arkansas, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Louisville, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
  • South:¬†Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Miami, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Florida, Southern Mississippi

Big Heartland Conference 20

  • North: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Purdue, West Virginia, Wisconsin
  • South:¬†Baylor, Houston,¬†Kansas, Kansas State,¬†Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech

I would be curious about anyone’s thoughts on these variations of the landscape of college sports.