Conference Realignment: Where to go from here?

I have to admit, football-driven conference realignment still leaves my head spinning. But, thank goodness, the dust has settled for now. If you want a good breakdown, check out Matt Brown’s Sports on Earth blog.

This week, we’ll be doing special blog posts on the conference outlooks in football and basketball. Here’s what happened the last couple years:


  • Lost: No one, c’mon, it’s the S-E-C!
  • Gained: Big 12’s Missouri, Texas A&M and Johnny ‘Football’ Manziel’s ego and a big money network deal with ESPN which is more than their current 15-year, $2.25 billion deal.


  • Lost: Maryland, Rutgers to the B1G Ten
  • Gained: Notre Dame on partial basis, Louisville, Syracuse, Pittsburgh

Big East

  • Lost: Almost everyone (now the American Athletic Conference — AAC) or Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Syracuse to the ACC
  • Gained: Their old name as their own and a 7 year, $130 million deal with ESPN.

B1G Ten

  • Lost: No one
  • Gained: Rutgers, Maryland

PAC 12

  • Lost: No one
  • Gained: Utah, Colorado

American Athletic Conference

  • Gained: Most of the non-Catholic schools of the Big East like Rutgers, Louisville, UConn, Cincinnati
  • Lost: Technically only Rutgers to the B1G Ten because they’re a new conference, but you get my point

Now, what does this mean going forward? Anything is possible. When the Big East got poached by the ACC up to a decade ago, that actually sowed seeds in people’s minds that this could happen on a bigger scale, and it did.

nick saban trophy

Oh yeah, and football is king. The Texas’ and Alabama’s will rake in the dough (Texas made up to $103.8 million last year with terrible sports teams and Alabama made $81 million) while small football and basketball schools get shafted by the NCAA. Football is the kingmaker and will continue to fund the other athletic, non-revenue sports programs like baseball, swim and dive, cross-country and track.

For basketball, that means the basketball-only schools suffer and take a back seat to football concerns. For example, Big East is a basketball-only and most Catholic private school league. It got a big TV contract with ESPN to air its conference games, which will involve basketball stalwarts like Georgetown on national TV. But, for most small basketball-only schools like in the Southern Conference (SoCon), Missouri Valley or Big West, this hurts any chance of moving up at all.

Conference USA, Mid-American Conference (MAC) and other mid-major schools are trying to survive in this football money power grab. For example, the old Western Athletic Conference (WAC) is no longer a football conference with defections of its major football schools to the Mountain West. Who does the WAC have? New Mexico State, Idaho, Utah Valley, Kansas City, Seattle University, Cal-Bakersfield and Grand Valley State.

Oh, that’s intimidating.


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About Spencer Irvine

Fun loving, D.C. area sports fan, which means I'm frustrated and still can't get a grip on what a win truly means (or a championship for that matter).

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