A four-conference structure for college football

The Idea: Disband the dysfunctional BIG12 Conference and transform the existing Power Five conferences into four “Super Conferences”, each consisting of 16 big-time programs. The plan would constitute a major wave of realignment comparable in scale to that which took place 2010-14.

The headline moves would be the four Texas schools joining the PAC-12, and Oklahoma moving to the BIG10 – albeit without Oklahoma State by its side. There would also be major shake-ups throughout the ACC and SEC, with the latter likely adding West Virginia and North Carolina.

Why it makes sense: There are a lot reasons, but let’s start with the maths of the CFB post-season. There are currently five power conferences each vying for a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff. The creation of a four-conference system would clean up the murky playoff selection process and add a level of clarity and certainty that is currently lacking in college football.

Another reason why this idea makes sense is that the BIG12 is fast becoming obsolete. With only 10 schools, it’s the smallest P5 conference, and with the exception of Oklahoma and Texas it is lacking in brand-name blue blood programs. Under a four-conference system, Texas would find themselves playing the likes of USC annually, and the same would go for Oklahoma and Nebraska. Ultimately, by moving BIG12 programs into the Big10 and PAC-12, we – the fans – will simply get more good games each year.

Could it happen? There are a plethora of reasons to suggest that this won’t happen, but the main thing to consider is that dividing 64 by four is not as easy as it sounds. Disbanding the BIG12 would lead to major re-alignment in all the conferences, and no matter how you crunch the numbers there wouldn’t be room for all the BIG12’s refugees. Perhaps even more significantly, Texas has consistently made it clear that it won’t engage in any re-alignment moves that will involve giving up its Long Horn Network – something that the PAC-12 would likely insist on.

In reality, the only way this happens is if the BIG12 implodes, triggering an accidental process of conference re-alignment. It would take strong leadership and strategic thinking to ensure that ensure that the BIG12’s refugees were re-housed fairly and sensibly.

Likelihood of happening: 15% (Keep Dreaming).

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