Expect Most Leagues
To Realign This Decade
By JOHN P. WISE
One Great Season
I'd surely categorize myself as a purist or a traditionalist when it comes to sports, but the idea of Big Ten expansion doesn't bother me for one reason.
It could take us one giant leap closer to a more formalized system of determining a national champion in football.
Now don't go scrolling down to the Comments section yet; I realize this could be ridiculous. But I'm talking long-term here, and isn't the current system already ridiculous? If you're still thinking, the short answer is yes. And we all know ridiculous times call for ridiculous measures.
YOUR THOUGHTS: What Do You Expect Will Happen?
But this conversation needs a jumping off point, and I'm here to provide that. So let's consider the following:
+ The Big Ten adds Notre Dame and maybe one or two teams from the Big East and maybe one or two teams from the Big 12.
+ You'll notice in all that's been written in recent weeks, there's been little mention of the ACC or the PAC 10. Those leagues are safe for now, as is the SEC.
+ But eventually, those other conferences will see all the cash the Big Ten is raking in with a 16-team juggernaut that lines up like the Super Friends' Hall of Justice. High-school football stars will leave the South to get a taste of the league that Florida and Alabama fans have enjoyed railing on the last four years. And city-raised hoopsters won't just keep it coastal; the midwest will be where it's at for them as well.
+ So by 2015, the SEC, ACC and Big East will play Go Fish until they come up with two other 16-team power conferences.
+ The few scraps from that overhaul will mix and match with some of the top teams from the MAC, Conference USA, the WAC and the MWC to form a fourth 16-team league.
+ Rounding out the mayhem by the end of the decade will be the PAC 10, whose laid-back symmetry will be shaken, not stirred, when it scrambles to invite TCU and Boise State, maybe BYU, Utah and a couple others from the MWC and the WAC. Some of these combinations might seem ridiculous now, but the landscape is about to get a serious scraping the next few years. And I think you remember what we said earlier about ridiculous times. In fact, in just five short years, we'll look back on 2010 and LOL the way we currently look back and laugh at the way leather-helmeted quarterbacks once threw long passes in those old black-and-white videos from the 1940s.
If this blog post was a television commercial, you'd have seen DRAMATIZATION across the bottom of the screen. Obviously we're just spitballin' here, but what isn't an exaggeration is the fact that conference realignment will be the biggest story of this decade. And when five mega-conferences with two eight-team divisions each have championship games, college football will get its own version of the Final Four. Of those five conference champions, one obviously won't earn an invitation to compete for a national championship. So the NCAA can keep its BCS formula and the confusion and the annual backlash from fans. Everybody wins.
Just as importantly, the NCAA can also keep its precious 85 bowl games or however many it now has. It can still keep the grandeur of the Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta bowls. It can still keep the rotating system it currently uses. Two of those top-tier bowl games will serve as semifinals, and of course the BCS Championship Game will pair up those winners for what would amount to an undisputed (kinda) national champion.