With rumors swirling that the Big Ten and Pac-10 conferences are looking to expand, one can’t help but wonder what the long-term effects would be for college football. For years, college football fans have looked for a way to logistically setup of a playoff system to determine a national champion. One hypothetical scenario involved four super conferences, each representing a geographic region of the United States. If the Big Ten and Pac-10 conferences both chose to expand, is it possible that the four super conference scenario could actually come to fruition? After all, we’d already be halfway there.
The idea behind a four super conference college football landscape is clearly geared toward instituting a national championship playoff tournament. Assuming each of the four super conferences contained 16 teams, then each super conference could divide into two eight-team divisions. The top team in each division could then play in a regional super conference championship game, with the four super conference champions advancing to a four team playoff. The four team playoff, consisting of the champions of the North, South, East and West super conferences could compete in a football final four.
The likelihood that the Big Ten increases to a 16 team conference relies on its ability to poach teams from the Big East and Big 12. Teams such as Missouri, Nebraska, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Rutgers have been rumored. Losing three football teams would likely leave the remaining Big East teams looking for new conferences. The Eastern super conference would likely then include leftovers from the Big East and teams from the ACC and possibly SEC. The Southern super conference could then comprise of SEC, Big 12 or ACC teams. That leaves just the Western super conference. With the Pac-10 serving as the primary core of the conference, teams like Colorado, Texas, Texas A&M might join the western super conference. Conferences such as the Big East may simply dissolve, while conferences like the Big 12 may be split amongst the western, southern and northern conferences.
While all of the above is pure speculation, it is easy to see how this type of format could evolve from larger conferences. Perhaps the biggest question, in terms of college football, is how Notre Dame fits into the equation. Frequently the subject of conference affiliation rumors, Notre Dame has remained independent in football. While the BCS currently allows special exemptions for Notre Dame, if the championship format revolved around a playoff system, it would be difficult for Notre Dame not to join a conference. Another consideration is that a four super conference football landscape only includes 64 teams. That means that 56 current FBS teams would not be included in the championship playoff. With schools like the University of Utah already claiming that the BCS system violates anti-trust laws, one can only imagine what type of legal battles may surface, should college football attempt to cut its championship field nearly in half.
Associated Press, Utah AG: BCS may violate antitrust laws
Tim Stephens,The Case for a 16-team Superconference,Orlando Sentinel
Kyle Stokes, Report: Mizzou To Big Ten “A Done Deal” , KOMU Sports
Ted Miller Pac-10 Will Consider Expansion , ESPN