It’s been a few years since college football saw its latest wave of conference expansion. From 2010-13, major shifts were driven by the immense rise in cable-television dollars coming in; conferences with nascent cable networks couldn’t get enough product, so they scooped up every halfway decent mid-major they could to put more games on your television and more subscriber money in their pockets.
And it sucked.
Now, some five-plus years later, the cable dollars are drying up, and some conferences (cough THE PAC 12) are finding that this whole deal wasn’t as sweet as it looked.
“So what’s the solution? More expansion?”, you ask.
No. Quite the opposite, I say: let’s pare down. Refocus. Shrink all the conferences. We’ll cut them down to their core, and resupply with a little bit of fresh blood.
We’ll say that each conference will lose eight teams and win four.
“Ohhhh,” a chorus of your appreciative voices say, “this is another installment of his much-beloved feature loosely constructed around the numbers four and eight.”
[jaunty theme music plays]
That’s right. For this week’s 4-8 Report, I’m going to pose this scenario to you: let’s cut eight teams from each conference. Get ‘em back to basics, offload all those hangers-on that had the wherewithal to join in 1912 and haven’t done anything since, and toss out those ill-advised purchases from the 2011 Big East fire sale while we’re at it.
In return, they’ll get to pick four new teams from their same general geographic area. These cuts will be made with little to no sentimentality, only an interest in maintaining strength and perhaps a little bit of hate. The additions do not have to make sense, they just have to be fun.
How would you reshape each conference if they had to lose eight teams, but could gain four?
I’ve got my votes here, I want to see yours in the comments.
Alright, we’ve gotta ditch eight here. Rutgers, Maryland? First out the door. Illinois, Northwestern? Bye. Minnesota? Row that boat on out of here. Indiana, Purdue, don’t you have some basketball to play? Michigan State? [shakes head disapprovingly]
That leaves us with a solid corn-fed core: Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska.
As for some newbies? We’re snapping up Kansas to shore up basketball, Missouri to give them someone to be angry at, Notre Dame because they’ll hate it, and Cincinnati because I want to hear more big-time sportswriters bitch about Skyline Chili.
[mock concerned voice] Oh wow how are we ever going to find anyone to cut from the strongest conference there are no off weeks here it’s solid from top to bottom [makes fart noise, hucks Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Missouri, South Carolina, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Mississippi State out moving car window]
Your new SEC: Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, LSU. Only the useful hate.
We’ll pad their schedule with West Virginia, UCF (just an entire conference of insanely mad people!), Georgia State (we figure Atlanta deserves to have a Power 5 team) and, just because you’ll get nostalgic for having an Ole Miss, we’ll give you Louisville.
This might be the easiest set of cuts. Boston College, Syracuse, Virginia, Wake Forest, NC State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Pittsburgh, you’re out. You can grab your gift bags at the door.
Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Duke, UNC and Virginia Tech get to stay.
We’ll add in Kentucky and Maryland for basketball reasons, South Florida for no reason, and FAU for bad reasons. No one will care about anything other than Clemson-Florida State football and Duke-UNC basketball, and it’s possible no one will even notice the change.
Okay, this one’s easy. If you’re losing eight teams, you’re only keeping two. Welcome to the Texas-Oklahoma conference. Everyone else? You knew what this was all along.
We’ll add in Houston, Texas A&M, Colorado, and Arkansas so we can use the JerryDome whenever we want.
They’ll play a ten-game schedule with home-and-homes against every team, and then they’ll have a conference championship game that ensures no one will ever make the playoff from this conference, as the Big XII gods intend.
The Pac-12’s got some natural pairs, so let’s lose one of each. Washington State, Oregon State, Cal, UCLA, Arizona, Utah, you’re all out. (Arizona State and Colorado, you’re out too.)
That leaves Washington, Oregon, Stanford, USC.
We’ll add in to that with Boise State, North Dakota State, BYU, and San Diego State. The conference will remain irrelevant, but it’ll be better in football.
What’s your version?