Let's face it. College sports as we know them are dead. You're probably aware that USC and UCLA are headed to the Big Ten due to the aftermath of Larry Scott being a schmuck. Coupled with Texas and Oklahoma heading to the SEC, it makes for seismic shifts in college sports. Now, the Pac-12 (and possibly the Big 12) is dead.
With that, we have the making of two superconferences: the Big Ten and the SEC. Fueled by the dollars coming from the football television contracts, both conferences show no signs of slowing down.
Keep in mind that this accounts for the ACC's grant of rights and their television contract, which is ironclad and won't expire until 2036. Therefore, let's fast-forward to that time when we have our megaconferences and everything shifts to the college equivalent of corporate consolidation (only for non-profits).
Also, note that I've made it to have 24 schools per conference. Each division within the conference is aligned with its closest geographical rivals while maintaining the best rivalries in college sports. We must maintain the purity of college sports while these schools and conferences pursue more money, after all!
With that, we must take a look at what each conference will look like in the future. Let's start with the Big Ten:
Half of the Pac-12 migrates to the Big Ten, making the conference into a standard professional conference. The midwestern conference has high academic standards, which makes Washington, Stanford, and Cal perfect fits. Phil Knight also wants to boost his revenue at Oregon, so what better place to do that than going to the same conference as Michigan, USC, and Ohio State?
Pittsburgh is returning to its glory days, boosting a better football program. You also get two basketball powerhouses from the ACC in Syracuse and Virginia. With these additions, the Big Ten will become stronger on the court.
We did it! We got the holy trinity of Michigan's most hated rivals: Ohio State, Michigan State, and Notre Dame! It finally happened. While the Fighting Irish has their own television contract with NBC, establishing an annual showdown with the Wolverines and Spartans was too good to pass up. This is the moneymaking division that'll have the marquee matchups for American audiences everywhere. Therefore, let's say that the Big Ten apologizes for past transgressions and forges a beautiful working relationship with Notre Dame.
Basically, this is the scraps for the rest of the Big Ten. It's the Big Ten West, with Purdue missing from the bunch. Nothing too exciting, although Wisconsin is a competitive school in sports like football, hockey, and basketball.
Now let's move on to the SEC, which is the established college football powerhouse. There's going to be some poaching from the ACC and Big 12, making this a purely southern conference. After all, you know Gene Sankey wants to add more moneymakers to the SEC and become overpowered. Let's get started:
Oklahoma and Texas have some Big 12 company tagging along, with Baylor arriving to join the party. Basically, this is the Southwest Conference from the old days, with Baylor, Arkansas, Texas, and Texas A&M reuniting (hence the division name). Old school college football fans in the south, rejoice!
North Carolina State
The SEC counters the Big Ten's basketball moves with major moves of their own, picking up Duke and North Carolina. In the process, they also add Clemson for football power, bringing their rivalry with South Carolina to the SEC. Lastly, they pick up North Carolina State to round out the Tar Heel State pickups.
People don't realize this, but picking up Florida State and Miami is a big deal. Both have storied football histories, fitting right in with the SEC culture. If the Seminoles and Hurricanes make a resurgence in football, this will be arguably the best division in college football. Georgia Tech adds to the Peach State rivalry with Georgia, making for a nice pickup in other aspects.
Great Plains Division
The rest of the SEC goes here, keeping the Alabama/Auburn rivalry intact. It's sacrilegious to separate the two schools, so I'm not facing their wrath. Besides, you're getting Ole Miss/Mississippi State as a bonus rivalry. Either this will be the cream of the crop, or it'll be Alabama dominating the division in football.
I know what you're thinking: what about the rest of the schools? What happens to them? I'm glad you asked. I've put these schools in a not-as-big-of-a-moneymaker conference. Still, they need a purpose and can't be left behind. Let's call it the Big America Conference (you can call it "'MURICA," if you wish), where we take the leftovers from the Pac-12, ACC, and Big 12. Here's what it looks like:
San Diego State
This is a great basketball division. Arizona just got a No. 1 seed in this year's men's tournament, while San Diego State made the tourney. Meanwhile, this is also a formidable football division, too. Boise State and San Diego State have carved out respectable programs, making names for themselves in the Mountain West. Don't discount Oregon State, either: they've made a living as one of the best baseball schools in the country.
North Carolina State
Overall, this is an underwhelming division. The only exciting things coming from this are Virginia Tech and Central Florida in football. That's about it. At least you're hitting the Boston market here.
Now that's more like it. As you know, Cincinnati made the College Football Playoff last year and Kansas was this year's men's basketball champions. This is also a respectable wrestling division: Oklahoma State and Iowa State are two of the most respected names in this sport. You can't go wrong with the likes of Louisville and Memphis making a resurgence in basketball, too. In fact, the Cardinals have been a dominant force in women's basketball, making deep runs in the NCAA tournament.
This is also a strong football division. Utah just made the Rose Bowl this season, while TCU, Texas Tech, Nevada, and BYU have all been competitive in recent years. BYU also has a strong status as a sports school, serving in the ranks as a western version of Notre Dame.
Now, why didn't I add UNLV to the conference? The main reason is that it doesn't draw much athletic revenue. Men's basketball and football aren't doing too much for the Runnin' Rebels right now, even with their storied history from the Jerry Tarkanian days. Yes, you're getting the Las Vegas market. But is it worth it when your two main sports haven't been competitive in the past five years?
Let's be honest: college sports, especially college football, aren't going to be the same again. It's going to be a race to the top (or the bottom) between the Big Ten and the SEC for conference supremacy. It's like Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi, only in collegiate form. Why not have a little fun and speculate what'll happen in the next ten years?