My Big Ten Realignment Proposal Comment Count

Seth July 27th, 2015 at 2:00 PM

college football realignment

One conference. Sixty-one teams. All the football.

Is realignment done? The Big XII is bouncing around the idea of making their conference even more mid-major than it stands now. Meanwhile the Big Ten's TV deals are all up very soon, so there's a chance to lock in oodles and oodles of money that won't come again. Why not go on one last expansion binge now to really set the market and ensure our conference's survival and fan interest in an uncertain future?

Here's my suggestion:

1. Rename. We're not 10 schools anymore, and this is confusing. I suggest the Big Ten rebrand as THE BIG SIX. The six shall refer to the six divisions, many of which have "Big" in their titles. Also since anything more than 11 teams is really a league not a conference, we'll call this the BIG SIX LEAGUE and the divisions can be called "conferences."

2. Expand. Here are the teams I'd add to the conference league, and how I'd break them up into divisions conferences of 10 or 11 teams based on shared geography, program culture, and history:

  • Midwest Conference ("The Big Ten"): Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Iowa, Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota
  • Northeast Conference ("The Big East"): Penn State, Syracuse, Boston College, Pitt, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Maryland
  • Atlantic Coast Conference ("The ACC"): Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, NC State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, South Carolina, Miami (YTM), Louisville
  • Southeast Conference ("The SEC")*: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU, Arkansas, Kentucky
  • The Plains Conference ("The Big XII"): Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas, Nebraska, Mizzou, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Colorado
  • Pacific Conference ("The Pac Ten"): Washington, Washington State, Oregon State, Oregon, Cal, Stanford, USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State
    *The SEC is the only 11-team conference to start

These divisions can have nicknames like "Big Ten" or "Big East." To ensure no more crazy realignment, every team must affirm a six-year commitment at the beginning of every season (i.e. there's a six-year waiting period if you want to leave). No conference can expand past 11; any joining school must get a 2/3rds majority of votes from the league, and unanimous support from its conference.

3. The Schedule. Every school plays all of its division opponents plus three from the other five conferences (scheduled as two-year home and homes), for 12 games total (since the SEC has 11 teams they play just two non-conference opponents). Six must be at home and six away, and no more than five conference games can be home. Cross-conference schools may contract with each other to schedule these in advance, with any holes filled in by the league two years prior.

Every team is allowed to schedule one pre-season exhibition (the Rich Rod plan), but it will not count toward that team's record for determining final postseason ranking. Every league game (not just division record) however will count toward winning your division. League play begins the week after Labor Day, and must conclude by the last Saturday of November.

4. Conference Championship Playoff. I would replace the conference championship game with a six-team conference playoff between the division winners.

The first round is played at the home of the higher-ranked (determined by committee) school in early December, with the two top teams getting a bye.

The second round is played Christmas Day at the Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl, with the two winners of the first round versus two teams that earned byes (highest overall seed selects its venue).

The championship is played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on January 1. The third place game is played at the Fiesta Bowl. Any school eliminated from the Final Four is free to play in any bowl game against any opponent (in or out of the league), regardless of final record.

5. Make Appropriate Hand Gestures Toward NCAA. The league shall declare its own rules superior to any made by the NCAA, and choose to ignore any NCAA rule. The league will make its own rules, specifically regarding appropriate compensation for its athletes (for example lifetime medical benefits, performance bonuses, league-approved player agents, and pay), and recruiting rules. Member schools will no longer be directly responsible to NCAA enforcement. The commissioner of this league shall be selected by the athletes, and will hold veto power.

6. What I did there. You see it. Good.



July 27th, 2015 at 2:23 PM ^

relegation seems cool to me from an objective stand point but if we had gotten relegated after going 3-9 i would have been pisssssed about it. It would basically be a recruiting death blow for the school, "Oh come to michigan and be a part of the B1G tradition and beat OSU and, JK we're in the MAC now you can play against WMU and EMU instead". I do like that it would get the Boise States or TCU's of the world up into power5 conferences but seems risky


July 27th, 2015 at 5:17 PM ^

I removed the section on relegation. These schools have long traditions against each other even if they were not competitive. I would hate to lose Indiana even for a year just for the sake of recognizing 1 or even 5 good years out of say Bowling Green.

Rather I capped the conferences at 11 and left spots open for expansion. If the Big East wants to add Rutgers or the Pac Ten want to add Utah there's a mechanism, but that is their only expansion and it forces their teams to all play a 10th conference game instead of an out of conf opponent.

Fred Garvin

July 27th, 2015 at 8:22 PM ^

...neither Mizzou nor Nebraska would ever join a conference that has Texas in it. 

This is made even more unlikely when you consider the nubs would have to leave the B1G and the Tigers would have to leave the SEC.  That would be like leaving the Hamptons to move back into a trailer park, next to a crazy neighbor with more guns than sense. 




July 28th, 2015 at 4:27 PM ^

One of the keys to all of this is Nebraska isn't leaving the Big Ten; everybody is joining the Big Ten, formerly known as the Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives, so that for the sake of TV rights and whatnot all the powers are negotiating as one entity, and scheduling each other.

I know it's a pipedream. What I don't want to see is the organic method of growing from a bunch of conferences into a league, because all that does incentivize the current conferences to snatch up any program bigger than a MAC school in a colonial land-grab, which is exactly how we found ourselves in a 7-team division with Maryland and Rutgers while Iowa and Wisconsin and Purdue come around less often than Utah.

The conferences grew organically well enough when television was regional and limited to four networks, and declaring a national champion was just a nerdy postseason excercise between professions that have to pay half attention. Today conferences are billion dollar corporations with their television networks, yet theyr'e still functioning under a system that expects them to be faculty representatives from elitist, non-profit educational institutions. The NCAA had their chance to become a true regulatory body, but instead chose to act more like an industry trade organization*.

The best thing for college football right now would be to acknowledge that the regional conferences that grew out of the 20th century are anachronisms worth preserving, like historic neighborhoods or whatever. Without that familiar structure the whole enterprise is at risk of becoming too desaturated, i.e. an NFL-lite, which is a crappier product fewer people will care about. When ESPN inevitably defaults on whichever round of promises it has to make to secure the TV rights to the last bastion of un-DVR'able entertainment, the BIG SIX or POWER SIX or whatever you want to term it will be in perfect position to cut Fox and Disney out of their revenue stream and make what they're making now by charging $5/month and selling ads themselves on a streaming college football channel.

The Big Ten is just the body out of convenience; the organizing structure of any major conference is sufficient to expand to include the 60-64 schools that operate truly professional-level (i.e. highly profitable) football enterprises. Technically everyone joins the Big Ten, or joins a new conference that handles all the "conference" stuff for the group, and is such a tour de force in college athletics that the NCAA has to kowtow to it.

I have no problem trying to fit Baylor and TCU into this (TT might be a stretch since their school's athletic budget is MAC-like despite the school's history). I only left them out because I thought a Texas-based mid-major conference would make for some rockin' good regional football.

* Specifically, one for mid-19th century cotton growers


July 27th, 2015 at 12:42 PM ^

I'm in favor of any playoff system where playoff participants are determined by record and head-to-head results rather than committee.

I'll go ahead and post my conference-champion-only tournament as it would have played out last year.

Everyone knows that a playoff is not a good way to crown the #bestteam(otherwise the overall #1 seed would win the MBB tourney way more often), so why are we so worried about at-larges to get the #bestteam in the playoff?  

If the #bestteam can't win their own conference, then eff 'em, MAC champion gets their spot. They can join the MAC if they think it's unfair.


July 27th, 2015 at 8:31 PM ^

I don't think so.

Do you realize that the MAC champion sometimes literally has finished the regular season 7-5?  There would be 50+ teams more deserving of having a shot at the national title.

Preserve the regular season's value.  Take the 6 highest ranked teams period, with the top 2 teams having an automatic bye.  It is a matchup of only the cream of the crop.  It is not a battle of attrition with many games required to win it all.  


July 28th, 2015 at 1:26 AM ^


If you can't win your conference, you don't deserve a chance at the national title.  I would much rather a cinderella have a chance than some also-ran major conference team that couldn't get it done in the regular season.

Besides, that bracket has huge built in advantages for the highest ranked teams.  The overall top 2 have to win 2 games(the same as now), 3 and 4 have to win 3(same as 8 team playoff), 5 and 6 have to win 4(same as NFL wild card). 5 games for the bottom seeds is a borderline impossible achievement.  It's only a battle of attrition for the teams that actually need to prove themselves.

This isn't a bad thing.  Two wins in that bracket could mean as much as a NC to a MAC school.

You say you want the regular season to matter, but giving at-large berths is the best way to trivialize the regular season, and I think it's unfair to the teams that actually won conference crowns to let the also-rans have just as good a chance as the champs.


July 28th, 2015 at 7:41 AM ^

I can't see your logic in how an 8-5 Conference Champion of the MAC is more deserving than a 12-1 team from a major conference like the SEC that didn't win the conference title.

Look at 2007.

Central Michigan makes your playoffs with 5 regular season losses, including an 0-4 record in out of conference having lost to:
1) Kansas 7-52
2) North Dakota State at home 14-44
3) Purdue 22-45
4) Clemson 14-70
5) Eastern Michigan 45-48

Central Michigan got clown stomped by every non-conference opponent that they had including a D1AA team at home.

What is even more rich, is the Kansas team that smashed CMU 52-7, had a 12-1 record that year, but would miss the playoffs, as their only loss was their conference title game!

I am sorry, but a 12-1 Kansas team that beat an 8-5 Central Michigan team by a score of 52-7 is far more deserving of a chance at a national title.


July 28th, 2015 at 2:27 PM ^

Kansas actually lost to Missouri for the chance at the Big XII title, so not only did they not even win their conference, they didn't even win their division.  Missouri went on to lose to Oklahoma in the Big XII championship.

Kansas never even sniffed the BCS championship that year, as their only win over a ranked opponent ended up being 5-7 Kansas State.  No one is crying over the tragedy of Kansas not having a chance to redeem themselves after a not-particularly-close loss to Missouri.

Was Central Michigan better than Kansas that year?  Almost certainly not.  Does that mean Kansas should have a better chance at a National Championship than CMU? In my system, yes.

Had Kansas beaten Missouri and Oklahoma, they would have certainly gotten a top 2 seed, being only 2 wins away from a National Championship.  Even if CMU had gone undefeated they likely could not have escaped the bottom 4 seeds, meaning they have to beat 5 conference champions to win a National Championship.

In my bracket system, Kansas/Missouri was a virtual playoff game with massive implications. In a system that takes the top 8 teams by ranking the game and the Big XII title game would have been literally meaningless. Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri all finished in the top 8.

How fair is that situation to Oklahoma?  They beat the Big XII north already, why should they have to beat teams from their own conference again? Talk about making the regular season count for nothing.

Another thing is that you are confusing a spot in the playoff with a chance at the championship.  As MAC champion in my system CMU would be looking at a slate like this:

1. #17 BYU
2. #7 USC
3. #4 Oklahoma
4. #2 LSU
5. #1 Ohio State

It would have been a massive upset if CMU won one game let alone all 5, but this is not a bad thing. They let conference champions that aren't as good as mediocre high-majors play in the basketball tournament too, and that is only the most beloved postseason in sports.

My system is better for high majors because the best teams(conference champions) don't have to beat the also-rans twice to win a title.

My system is better for mid majors because it actually acknowledges their existence.


July 27th, 2015 at 1:12 PM ^

But by changing the name from big 10 you lose all that brand identity & goodwill worked up over the last 65+ years.

And for a get off my lawn note, can we stop renaming things? Street names, products, etc. no one wants to learn a new name.


July 27th, 2015 at 2:08 PM ^


Somebody needs to lay off the coffee awhile. Insomnia and the jitters are not the only symptoms of the affliction that are visible.

August is almost upon us, thankfully.


July 27th, 2015 at 2:12 PM ^

with two 8-team divisions each. Division winners play in the quarterfinals, conference winners play in the semis and those winners play in the finals. That's the future.

Mr Miggle

July 27th, 2015 at 6:44 PM ^

season just to make the playoffs neater.

I don't think there is any way the playoffs ever become that exclusive. Who's going to decide that some schools get permanently left out? There are more than 64 power conference schools now, with more holding that ambition. This organization would end up fighting a lot of political battles, probably legal ones too. I'll stick my neck out and say it will never happen.

Icehole Woody

July 27th, 2015 at 2:17 PM ^

Rename the conference the Big D for Delany.  I think he seeks more TV lebensraum to the West. 

So, pucker up and get ready to plant one on Delany's bare arse on your big screen to show proper fealty.




Pelini's Cat

July 27th, 2015 at 2:22 PM ^

Only problem here is that some of those divisions are absolutely stacked (SEC) while others are weak (Big East). The system now isn't perfect, but at least I know I'm getting the four best teams

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July 27th, 2015 at 2:35 PM ^

Does it matter that you get the 4 best teams?

What the viewing public needs to admit to itself is that playoffs are not the best way to crown the best team, but that we are ok with that because the champion doesn't have to be the best team and playoffs are so much more exciting than the alternative.

Playoff bids shouldn't be viewed as a designation for the best teams but as a reward for unblemished seasons.  This prevents any sort of ignoramus committee or media group-think from pushing through an at-large candidate with dubious merit. Champion = bid is the best way to go.

The Mad Hatter

July 27th, 2015 at 2:29 PM ^

"The first round is played at the home of the higher-ranked (determined by committee) school in early December."


That's where we would get fucked.  Just like the 70's.