September 14, 2011

Superconferences: Which 64 teams belong?

MORE: Video: Is realignment good? | WAC a cautionary tale

The cautionary nature of the WAC's history as a 16-team league got us to thinking: If there really is a move to four 16-team "super conferences," who is going to be in them.

The five men who cover college football for Rivals.com have wildly varying viewpoints. Here they are.

OLIN BUCHANAN
Paring FCS down to 64 teams would be difficult and a lot of feelings surely would be hurt. But I always say not everybody can play at the $100 tables. So, I'd make up my list of teams that typically draw a lot of fans, have at least a history of some reasonably recent success, have national appeal or are fortunate enough to be part of successful conferences. So, I'd start my list with all the teams in the Big Ten, Pac-12 and the SEC with the exception of Vanderbilt. So there's 35 teams. I surprise myself by also deciding to keep all eight teams from the Big East and TCU to bring my list to 44. That would leave 20 slots open. The 10 most obvious teams to include are Notre Dame, BYU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Clemson, Florida State and Virginia Tech. So, with nine available spots I'd also keep Missouri, Boise State, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, N.C. State and Virginia. But, frankly, I'd rather keep college football as it is.
MY 64 SCHOOLS
Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Boise State, Boston College, BYU, California, Cincinnati, Clemson, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas State, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Rutgers, South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, TCU, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Texas, UCLA, USC, USF, Utah, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington, Washington State, West Virginia and Wisconsin
TOM DIENHART
A school must be able to justify its spot at the table by showing what it brings to a league from a TV standpoint. That's what drives conference realignment. A school is hurt by being traditionally bad, small and in a state that already has a strong school that usually fields a good team. And since football has greater money-making potential than basketball, the quality of hoops doesn't matter. With that, here are the current Big Six members who didn't make my cut: Baylor, Duke, Iowa State, Kansas State, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.
MY 64 SCHOOLS
Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Boise State, Boston College, BYU, California, Cincinnati, Clemson, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Rutgers, South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCLA, USC, USF, Utah, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington, Washington State, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
DAVID FOX
I selected my 64 teams based on a number of factors, but the primary factor is commitment to competing at a high level in football and a history of such commitment. If it's my 64-team format (which I am not in favor of), this at least needs to be a committed bunch. Their fans and alumni need to be committed as well. We keep hearing that TV markets are important in conference realignment. They are, but do you think Tuscaloosa is a big television market? No. Alabama is on top of the college football world because every Alabama (and likely many Auburn fans) watch the Crimson Tide win or lose, up year or down year. I had the most difficulty in cutting basketball-first schools from the mix, or schools with an overall good athletic program but lousy football (i.e., Vanderbilt). Since football is the primary driver, the basketball-first schools I included at least had to put together an honest effort to compete in football the past 10 or 20 years. That's why I included Connecticut, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina but not Duke, Indiana or Memphis.
MY 64 SCHOOLS
Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Boise State, Boston College, BYU, California, Clemson, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Houston, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, SMU, South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCF, UCLA, USC, USF, Utah, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
MIKE HUGUENIN
The move to four 16-team "super conferences" would kill college sports as we know it - making football so important as to render every other sport basically meaningless - but because there is one more dollar out there that can be sucked up, it appears that the powers-that-be are hell-bent on going for it. TV money is the driving force behind this, and I decided that in some coin-flip situations - is this school in or out? - TV markets would be the deciding factor on whether to include certain programs or send them packing. Basketball prominence doesn't figure into this because it sure as heck seems as if it doesn't matter in "real life," either.
MY 64 SCHOOLS
Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Boise State, Boston College, BYU, California, Clemson, Colorado, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Houston, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Rutgers, South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCF, UCLA, USC, USF, Utah, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
STEVE MEGARGEE
There currently are 66 teams in the six major conferences. Once we add Boise State, BYU, Notre Dame and TCU to the mix, that leaves us with 70 schools that have a good case for being included in our group of 64. So which six schools do we leave out? I seriously considered cutting Connecticut (a relative FBS newcomer), Duke, Indiana, and Kansas before deciding the strength of their basketball programs probably would require that they remain included. But I thought about it again and decided Duke's basketball program could do just fine without being included in this super-conference setup. Duke's small enrollment and lack of recent football success otherwise made the school an ideal prospect to get cut. So Duke is out. Now I had to cut five more schools. I focused on schools that either had small enrollments or remote locations. In most cases, they also hadn't been successful lately. Vanderbilt's in a great location - heck, I live in Nashville - but its relatively small enrollment and its lack of recent success knocked it out. The enrollment factor also caused me to cut Wake Forest. I didn't want to cut any schools with BCS bowl experience, but Wake's 2006 ACC title seems more like an aberration with each passing year. Enrollment certainly isn't a problem for Washington State, but its remote location and a lack of recent success cause me to knock them out. And since the Big 12's on the verge of implosion, I get the feeling that conference's members would get hurt the most, particularly those schools in remote locations. That's why I considered knocking out Baylor, Iowa State and Kansas State. Of those three schools, Kansas State's the only team that has appeared in a BCS game. So the Wildcats survive, while Baylor and Iowa State are the last two cuts.
MY 64 SCHOOLS
Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Boise State, Boston College, BYU, California, Cincinnati, Clemson, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, LSU, Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Rutgers, South Carolina, USC, USF, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, TCU, Texas Tech, UCLA, Utah, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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