Sean Pendergast

Tallying Up the College Football Realignment Carnage

Realignment is killing college football, and a lot of this started with the Longhorn Network.
Realignment is killing college football, and a lot of this started with the Longhorn Network. Photo by Jack Gorman
At some point, the Earth will stop moving underneath all of our feet in the world of college football. It was over a decade ago that college conference realignment really started in full force, and since around 2010, it seems like we rarely go more than a season or two before some other earthshaking maneuver takes place. Last summer, it was Oklahoma and Texas announcing their move to the SEC.

That move was so huge that the other four Power Five conferences shot up in their chairs and began to wonder which schools the SEC would be raiding from their roster. In fact, Texas and Oklahoma moving to the SEC was so groundbreaking that it was the impetus for three of the remaining four Power Five conferences to form an Alliance.

The Big Ten, ACC, and Pac-12 all pinky swore to work together to try to make sure that the SEC's thirst for all the good football schools didn't gobble each of their conferences up like it seemingly did the Big XII. How strong was that Alliance? Well, you tell me, because here was the big news late last week....
Evidently, the Big Ten had its fingers crossed behind their backs during the forming of the Alliance, because it appears they will welcome Pac-12 stalwarts USC and UCLA to the fold within the next couple years. Once the move becomes reality, we can break down all the silliness of the two conferences most tethered at the hip over the course of college football history now raiding each other. For now, I just wanted to level set, and assess the carnage of all the moving pieces from the last decade or so.

Here were the six power conferences back in 2010, when realignment becomes a front burner issue. (And YES, there were SIX power conferences back then. RIP, Big East football.)

BIG XII
NORTH
Nebraska
Missouri  
Kansas State
Iowa State  
Colorado
Kansas

SOUTH
Oklahoma
Oklahoma State  
Texas A&M  
Baylor  
Texas Tech
Texas

BIG TEN
Michigan State
Wisconsin
Iowa  
Illinois  
Penn State  
Michigan  
Northwestern  
Purdue  
Minnesota
Indiana  
Ohio State

ACC
ATLANTIC DIVISION
Florida State
Maryland
NC State
Boston College
Clemson
Wake Forest

COASTAL DIVISION
Virginia Tech
Miami
Georgia Tech
North Carolina
Duke  
Virginia

SEC
EAST
South Carolina
Florida
Georgia  
Tennessee
Kentucky
Vanderbilt

WEST
Auburn
Arkansas  
LSU  
Alabama
Mississippi State
Ole Miss

PAC-10
Oregon
Stanford
USC
Washington
Arizona
Arizona State
Oregon State
California
UCLA
Washington State

BIG EAST
Connecticut
West Virginia  
Pittsburgh  
Syracuse  
South Florida
Louisville  
Cincinnati  
Rutgers

Now, come 2024, college football will likely look like this, as of now (teams in BOLD are in a different conference than they were in the list above):

BIG XII
Kansas State
Iowa State
Kansas
Oklahoma State
Baylor  
Texas Tech
TCU
West Virginia
Cincinnati
Houston
BYU
Central Florida


BIG TEN
Michigan State
Wisconsin
Iowa  
Illinois  
Penn State  
Michigan  
Northwestern
Purdue  
Minnesota
Indiana  
Ohio State
Nebraska
Rutgers
Maryland
USC
UCLA


ACC 
Florida State
NC State
Boston College
Clemson
Wake Forest
Virginia Tech
Miami
Georgia Tech
North Carolina
Duke  
Virginia
Pittsburgh
Syracuse
Louisville


SEC
South Carolina
Florida
Georgia  
Tennessee
Kentucky
Vanderbilt
Auburn
Arkansas  
LSU  
Alabama
Mississippi State
Ole Miss
Texas A&M
Missouri
Texas
Oklahoma


PAC-12
Oregon
Stanford
Washington
Arizona
Arizona State
Oregon State
California
Washington State
Utah
Colorado


So in 2024, the Power Five (if we are even calling them that by then, because it's veering rapidly towards a Power TWO) will have a total of 68 schools (plus Notre Dame, who remains independent for football, and likely will for the foreseeable future). Each conference will have multiple schools who will have changed conferences in the past decade.

There are a total of 18 schools who've moved conferences as a result of realignment, and all have come out better financially than where they were previously, but the fabric of college football is being shredded at the seams. Each of these five conferences is a jumbled, geographical mess, and the Big Ten is the biggest mess of them all.

Are you ready for USC and Rutgers squaring off? Or can I interest you in UCLA versus Maryland? The bigger question for USC and UCLA is "Are they going to spend the millions on travel that it will take to fly all over the Midwest and East Coast for volleyball, soccer, and other Olympic sports?" Again, I repeat, this is a mess, but nothing tens of millions in TV revenue can't soothe, I guess.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast