Occasionally, NCAA teams and conferences need to be called realigned. We saw it a couple of years ago when the Pac-10 became the Pac-12 after inviting the University of Utah and Colorado University into the fold. These moves opened up opportunities in the Mountain West Conference, the Western Athletic Conference, and the Big 10.
We now find ourselves in the era of mounting pressure to see the creation of “super” conferences, or, in the parlance of our time, Superconferences. Plenty of people seem to think that a handful of 16-team conferences (or larger) is preferable to the current mishmash of the 12 current conferences that play host to some 115 collegiate teams.
Perhaps there’s some wisdom to creating a handful of “super” conferences, and we need look no further than the Southeastern Conference (SEC) to see if it’s working out or not. On paper, and particularly in football, it’s been great for the SEC and its participating schools. They make huge paychecks by appearing in some of the biggest bowl games each season, and in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) there is no more dominant conference than the SEC, winners of the last six BCS National Championship Games and eight overall.
Here’s a look at how the top conferences in the NCAA have realigned for the upcoming season.
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
-Pittsburgh and Syracuse will both leave the Big East and will join the ACC. No formal date for the realignment has been set, but it will happen by the start of the 2014 season at the latest.
-Pittsburgh and Syracuse will leave by 2014.
-West Virginia will leave the Big East to join the Big 12 in 2012.
-Temple University will become a football-only member in 2012 and an all-sport member in 2013.
-Houston, Memphis, Southern Methodist, and University of Central Florida will become all-sport schools in 2013.
-Boise State and San Diego State will become football-only schools in 2013.
-Navy will leave the independent ranks and join the Big East in 2015.
-No changes announced.
-Texas A&M and Missouri will leave the Big Ten in 2012.
-Texas Christian University and West Virginia will join in 2012.
Conference USA (C-USA)
-Houston, Memphis, SMU, and UCF will leave for the Big East in 2013.
-Old Dominion, Florida International University, North Texas, Texas State, and University of Texas at San Antonio will join in 2013.
-Charlotte will also join in 2013 as a football-only school with full membership by 2015.
-Old Dominion will not play football in C-USA until 2013.
-Temple will leave the conference in 2012.
-UMass will become a football-only school in 2012.
Mountain West Conference
-Texas Christian University will leave the conference in 2012.
-Fresno State and Nevada will join in 2012.
-Hawaii will join as a football-only school in 2012.
-Boise State and San Diego State will leave in 2013.
-San Jose State and Utah State will join the conference. No dates have been set.
-No changes announced.
Southeastern Conference (SEC)
-Texas A&M and Missouri will join in 2012.
Sun Belt Conference
-North Texas will leave the conference in 2013.
-South Alabama, already a conference member, will begin playing football in 2012 and will complete a full transition by 2013.
-Georgia State will join in 2012 and will complete its full football transition by 2014.
-Texas State will leave in 2012.
Western Athletic Conference (WAC)
-Texas State and the University of Texas at San Antonio will join the conference in 2012.
As conferences realign and the notion of “super” conferences begins to take shape, fans must ask themselves whether or not there will be any equity whatsoever in collegiate sports. Will the biggest conferences continue to dominate? Can teams like Texas A&M and Missouri make their marks in the SEC? It all remains to be seen, but there’s no way it will be boring.