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THE POWER FOUR: Starting from scratch on conference realignment

Geography-based conferences, like God intended

While it’s been happening for a while, the most recent round of college football realignment has really driven the point home: these conferences no longer make sense. USC and UCLA are in the same conference as Rutgers and Maryland. UCF and West Virginia are in the same conference as BYU. I get that this is all being done in pursuit of the almighty dollar, but let’s just all admit that we’ve messed thing thing up almost beyond repair when it comes to having conferences that make any sort of sense. So much so that in order to fix it, we need a hard reset.

So what if we erased all current conference affiliations. A completely blank slate. Just look at the major college football programs and group them based on proximity. I took a stab at doing just that, with a few ground rules:

  • All current “Power 5” teams must keep their seat at the table
  • All power conference teams from the same state must be in the same conference
  • All conference members must be located in contiguous states

With that, I landed on a four-conference model, with each conference having 18 teams. THE POWER FOUR! This includes all of the teams currently in (or about to join) a Power 5 conference, while also adding a select few deserving members. Because at the end of the day, I think we all want more teams invited to the party, not less. “But Robert, what would the schedule look like with a 18-team conference!?!?” I’m glad you asked, fictional reader. Each team would have one permanent opponents, then play eight other conference opponents each year. This would allow teams to play every team in the conference every two years, similar to the scheduling models currently being debated for an expanded SEC. And in this fictional world, we’d have each of these conference champions guaranteed a first round bye in a 12-team playoff, with eight at-large teams playing in the opening round.

With those ground rules in place, this is what I came up with. It’s not perfect, there will still be some weird matchups. But this would make so much more sense not only for football, but for every other sport as well, restoring some semblance of logic to how collegiate athletic conferences are structured.

WESTERN CONFERENCE:

Essentially this is the Pac 12, with the additions of the Kansas schools, Nebraska, BYU, Boise and SDSU. San Diego State may be the surprise addition to this list, but they’ve won 10+ games in five of the last seven seasons, and with an enrollment of 35,000+ and situated in a metro area with more than 3.3 million people (and no NFL team) they seem like a no-brainer. Is this still the most spread out conference in the country? Yes. But that’s always going to be the case simply based on how the western half of our country is laid out.

CENTRAL CONFERENCE:

Eight teams from the current or future Big 12 , eight from the SEC and two from the Big Ten. This is perhaps the most eclectic conference, in that it doesn’t have any one overwhelming flair of a current Power 5 conference.

NORTHEASTERN CONFERENCE:

  • Wisconsin
  • Michigan
  • Michigan State
  • Illinois
  • Northwestern
  • Indiana
  • Notre Dame
  • Purdue
  • Ohio State
  • Cincinnati
  • West Virginia
  • Pitt
  • Penn State
  • Rutgers
  • Syracuse
  • Boston College
  • Kentucky
  • Louisville

This one is very Big Ten heavy with 11 B1G schools being joined by three from the ACC (Louisville, Syracuse, Boston College) plus Notre Dame, West Virginia, Cincy and Kentucky.

SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE:

Because they’re the big boys in the sport, of course the SEC are the ones who get to keep their name (helps that their name makes the most sense in a geography-based realignment). But strangely enough, this new SEC has only five of the current SEC members (Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina) joined by 10 ACC teams as well as Maryland, UCF and...the big surprise... Appalachian State. App State isn’t a huge school, but at 18,000+ students, they are also far from the smallest on this list, and as one of the winningest programs of this century, their record speaks for itself. Plus, who doesn’t want to make regular road trips to Boone a thing?

THE NEW POWER FOUR CONFERENCES:

Poll

How do you feel about this Power Four model?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    IMPLEMENT IT NOW!
    (3693 votes)
  • 30%
    Could use some tweaks
    (2881 votes)
  • 17%
    This is so much worse
    (1640 votes)
  • 12%
    Please let the offseason end soon
    (1171 votes)
9385 votes total Vote Now
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