With recent talk now swirling about OU and possibly UT (along with OSU and one other school) heading to the PAC-1x, I thought it might be interesting to just lay out the landscape of what could be coming should full conference realignment happen.
My assumption is that conference realignment is going to end up with four 16-team conferences, split into two eight-team divisions, which would give us a nice, neat eight-team playoff tournament (with the potential for two or four wild-cards) to determine a true national champion.
I am also assuming that our very own Big ? does not survive in this scenario, leaving the following conferences:
Right now, in the six BCS conferences, there are a total of 65 teams (including TCU), plus BYU and Notre Dame, for a total of 67. Villanova has been mentioned as a team that might jump to 1-A as well, but I'll ignore them for now.
As you can see, there appears to be room for almost everyone at the
trough table, but it is quite possible that anywhere from one to three teams could be left standing when the music stops, depending on what Notre Dame and BYU end up doing.
At this point, I'm going to make some assumptions, which we've seen and heard ad nauseum thus far, but I wanted to see for myself how this could actually play out and whether or not it made sense.
I am first going to assume that the PAC-1x strikes first, inviting Texas, OU, OSU, and either Tech or Baylor (give the nod to Tech), forming the PAC-16. A wildcard in this is BYU. Although I don't think the PAC-1x is hesitant to include them, they could take a spot from either Tech or Baylor.
Next, the SEC adds A&M, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and either Clemson, Florida State, or Missouri. I think Missouri would be their first choice, but I also think that Missouri might be courted by B1G.
Finally, B1G adds Pitt, Syracuse,and two of Rutgers, Missouri, Kansas, or Notre Dame. Notre Dame is a big wildcard here, although at least publicly they are stating their desire to remain independent.
I think that ND and BYU staying as independents could work with the scenario I see unfolding, it is in my opinion going to be very difficult for them to join in a playoff unless multiple wildcards are added. Do they take the risk that these four superconferences form with an eight-team playoff, thereby leaving them out in the cold?
Anyway, I am going to assume that BYU and ND both choose to remain independent, so at this point the dust has mostly settled, and we're left with the following teams:
Putting together a final superconference of the remnants of these teams could look like the following, which I'm going to go ahead and call the Big East-ish:
On the chopping block:
Using an East/West split is not ideal (although truly, neither is North/South, but it appears to be a little better):
So, I think that one way or another, KU will be safe when the dominoes fall...I believe this is the most likely scenario of what will happen, but it could also turn out that KU and MU end up in the B1G or SEC, leaving one of the other schools out...again, BYU and ND are wildcards, meaning that there could be two fewer spots available...does a Louisville, Cincinnati, Wake Forest, Rutgers or even Duke get left out in that scenario? I doubt it, I still think that when all is said and done, KSU and ISU are the ones left out in the cold.