Conference realignment! It never ends, but it does offer up waypoints that have even the most diligent college fans losing track of which schools are going where. Thus, with the Mountain West, Sun Belt and Conference USA all making finalized (or reported) moves this week, it's a fine time to catch up on adjustments both pending and possible, from the independents to the power leagues.
First up, the WAC. Alphabetical order after that. It's the smallest courtesy we can extend a conference on life support. With only two football schools left for 2013, the WAC's only FBS option is to convince a slew of FCS schools to take the double risk of jumping up a level and joining the Mountain West's trough.
Seems highly unlikely. But just for the sake of argument, let's say they're able to somehow steal a foursome from the far more stable Big Sky, perhaps by hijacking Twitter accounts. The Big Sky was a better football conference even before the latest round of losses. Swear it's less crazy after this.
On to saner things. The ACC's set to continue its march up the eastern seaboard, bringing on a pair from the Big East, likely for 2013. They'd like Notre Dame after that, but since that's unlikely, let's say they just continue digesting everything Big Eastly about the Big East. It's a strategy, and certain people do really like basketball.
As for encroachments, the SEC prefers to stay on good terms with its nearest neighbor, but rumors of the Virginia Tech-to-SEC and Maryland-to-Big Ten variety will sprout indefinitely.
Which brings us back to the Big East. At this rate, they might just f--- around and go global.
The future addition of Navy insulates them against one loss, but with both the ACC and Big 12 at the gates, that might not be enough to stay at the magic number of football schools (12). Keeping in touch for so long with Air Force and Army could finally pay off, somebody finally realizes ECU's fan base is super legit, and let's say that, "OOOOOOOH MEDIA MARKETS" thing lets Georgia State pull a South Florida.
Look at this mess!
The Big Ten is gonna stand pat unless Notre Dame's slowly fading national presence (or that impending playoff system) sends the Irish into a conference. If they did come aboard, we'd hear chatter like Duke, Kansas, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Syracuse or Virginia coming on to even things up, sending ripples all the way down to the FCS. Notre Dame is pretty much its own national scenario.
Jim Delany squints at the horizon and sheathes his blade.
Once the nation's most imperiled conference -- that was only last year! -- the Big 12 has found stability for at least the next half-decade. They're doing a lot of publicly dismissing a move to 12, so expect a move to 12.
Every couple months, BYU, Cincinnati and Louisville emerge in one report or another as Big 12 candidates, so there we go.
Oh, Lord, Conference USA. If you clicked through hoping to see a roster for any one conference, it was probably this one. The Big East's new feeder league is reportedly pulling in six for now, but will continue to need re-ups.
Bless you, MAC. Continue to placate your nearby conference powers by annually sacrificing coaching talent and nobody will bother you. You have an odd number of teams, which is fun.
But do you want a Villanova? The Big East keeps telling the Wildcats that their stadium isn't big enough, and now the Big East has a Philly team anyway. Dual conference citizenship for Villanova, how 'bout it?
Up above, we have the WAC taking some new teams, which of course means they'll just end up in the Mountain West. This is the natural order of things.
Moving beyond Earth matters, there's the Pac-12. Interstellar media rights aren't going to figure themselves out. Leave Larry Scott to his work. Unless you'd reconsider the LongPac Network, Texas.
The SEC likewise holds at 14, with Clemson, Florida State and Virginia Tech rumors continuing forever. And whenever the Big 12 erupts next, get ready to hear about Oklahoma and West Virginia again. But after the fit SEC fans justifiably pitched when it looked like cross-division rivalries were going away due to two new teams ... you'd be a bold man, Mr. Slive.
All of which brings us to the Sun Belt, a conference in danger of finding itself at the bottom of the WAC-less pecking order. Conference USA has already taken a pair, and C-USA has both strength in swelling numbers (worked for the WAC!) and a friend in the Mountain West. The SBC's only move is to harbor call-ups -- luckily, its general vicinity has some viable ones.
So that's it. All the moves on the table right now, from ones that are already happening to those that might. Once Notre Dame joins the MAC, we'll reassess.
While we’re here, let’s watch some college football videos from SB Nation’s new YouTube channel together: