Sunday, July 18, 2010
One Man's Ideas Of How College Football Conferences Should Re-Align
If there is one thing the great conference re-alignment boon of 2010 has taught us, it is that the things we used to consider important to the integrity of a conference no longer apply. Geography, for instance, used to be considered perhaps the most important aspect of a conference's identity. Following the PAC-10's failed attempt at adding Texas and most of the rest of the Big 12 South, however, it is clear that geography is no longer a real consideration for how a conference is built. With the old ideals of what makes a conference a conference going out the window, I figured it is time to shuffle the proverbial deck of college football in the hopes of creating a new landscape boasting super conferences aligned for competitive reasons, not geography. Dive right in after the jump.
The Prestige Conference is comprised of 16 of the top 17 programs in ESPN's Prestige Rankings (Notre Dame is ranked 4th, but I have a more appropriate conference for them), and represents the cream of the crop of the college football landscape. If the goal of conference re-alignment is to make the conference appealing to television networks while also putting its members in position to be selected for prestigious bowls, you would be hard-pressed to create a more perfect grouping than the one listed above. Besides the obvious benefit of having such blue-chip schools playing each other every single weekend, any conference that would see Michigan finishing in last place has to be a good thing, right?
New Mexico State
The inverse of the Prestige Conference, "D-I" Football consists of 16 of the bottom 17 teams in the Prestige Rankings (Vanderbilt is ranked last at 119, but they are in the same boat as Notre Dame in that they have a more appropriate conference awaiting them; also, Western Kentucky was not yet an FBS school when ESPN did their rankings). The benefit for these schools would be a legitimate chance at a conference title every year, while the benefit for us would be the annual Eastern Michigan-Western Michigan showdown to prove who is the worst team in the country.
The aforementioned home of Notre Dame and Vanderbilt, the High Standards Conference accommodates those schools with high academic standards (and, in the case of the service academies, other stringent barriers to entry that would effect recruiting). The consistent struggles of Vanderbilt and Duke to field a competitive team, as well as the recent inability of Notre Dame to ascend to the nation's elite, are often chalked up to the recruiting disadvantages those schools have when competing against their more lenient competition. By putting these teams in the same conference, those disadvantages are mitigated, and the playing field is more even (but Duke and Vanderbilt will probably still suck).
* If you're wondering why Rice made the cut, they are actually the 17th best school in the nation according to US News & World Report. I'm as shocked as you.
LITTLE BROTHER SYNDROME
The Little Brother Syndrome Conference is comprised of schools who may feel jealousy towards other, more successful in-state programs (with the exception of Iowa, who probably feel like they're always right on the edge of being part of the Big Ten's elite, which could probably also be said of Wisconsin, whom I would have no problem substituting in for the Hawkeyes). Auburn is jealous of Alabama; Pittsburgh is overshadowed by Penn State; Cincinnati literally resides in Ohio State's shadow; Michigan State is dwarfed by Michigan; South Florida and UCF have to compete against the likes of Miami, Florida, and Florida State; while Purdue is right down the road from Notre Dame. In the West, Oklahoma State plays second banana to Oklahoma; BYU is slightly edged out by Utah in terms of national stature; Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Baylor all have to share a state with Texas; and Iowa State and Washington State share homes with more successful programs who exist sans "State."
The Civil War Conference is made up of teams that have bitter intra-state or cross-border rivalries with another (or, in the case of Missouri, three other) schools.
The Mid Major Majors Conference is comprised of teams that reside in BCS conferences (except Boise State and Utah, but Boise State has won two Fiesta Bowls in the past four years--with another BCS bowl bid likely this season--and Utah is joining the PAC-10 next year) but are never consistently considered among the top programs in the country (except Virginia Tech, who's pre-Frank Beamer struggles held down in the Prestige Rankings).
San Diego State
The Major Mid-Majors Conference is comprised of those non-BCS teams that have outperformed their respective conferences relatively consistently over the years. Some schools have produced great pros (Miami-Ben Roethlisberger; Troy-DeMarcus Ware; Southern Miss-Brett Favre; Eastern Carolina-Chris Johnson, TCU-LaDainian Tomlinson; San Diego State-Marshall Faulk), some have produced amazing college perfomers (Miami again-former Brown Travis Prentice [who is somehow the NCAA's all-time TD leader]; Central Michigan-Dan LeFevour; Bowling Green-Josh Harris Omar Jacobs, and former head coach Urban Meyer; Hawaii-Timmy Chang and Colt Brennan; Fresno State-David Carr and Trent Dilfer; Houston-Andre Ware and Kevin Kolb), and others have just consistently won (TCU, who have won 53 games over the past 5 seasons).
ZIP LOCK BAG FULL OF POOP
San Jose State
Honestly, the Zip Lock Bag Full of Poop Conference is just the teams I had left over after I made the other conferences. How boring and mediocre must a conference be, though, if Middle Tennessee is the favorite to win it? Hence, the Zip Lock Bag Full of Poop Conference.