Photo: Getty Images/Ronald Martinez
Major changes to the college football landscape got underway in 2010 when we found out Utah and Colorado would be going to the Pac-12 and Nebraska was on its way to the Big 10.There have been more shakeups since, with Syracuse and Pittsburgh headed to the ACC, and both the Big 12 and Big East adding some new members as well.
Then came news of a four-team college football playoff beginning in 2014.
This is merely the beginning, though.
Further expansion to reach 16-team super conferences, more playoff games, and tons and tons of money all await. (We can thank Florida State’s recent flirtation with the Big 12 for starting it back up.)
We’ve looked at where things stand right now and taken some educated guesses to provide you with what college football may look like in a few years. (Note: we don’t think this has ANY chance of happening over night, however.)
Please feel free to share your thoughts and expansion proposals in the comments.
Ignore all the backpedaling from administrators. Like Texas A&M and Missouri last year, all Florida State needed to do was plant a seed regarding its discontent with the ACC. That part is done.
An FSU-Big 12 marriage makes perfect sense for both parties, and would start off the domino effect once again.
The Big 12 wouldn't stay put at 11 schools, though, so bringing along a Clemson, Miami, Louisville, or all of the above is also likely.
The Big 10 will improve its recruiting base by expanding south and inviting Duke, Georgia Tech, and Maryland
Sure the Big 10 really likes its current setup, but there's no denying where the country's best high school football is concentrated: the South.
Since raiding the SEC or prying Texas away from the Big 12 are not options, the Big 10 will stick to its current formula of great academic institutions with wide fan bases by inviting three major southern schools: Duke, Georgia Tech, and Maryland.
Not one to be left behind, the SEC will look at the major ACC schools and add two new states to its TV foot print: Virginia and North Carolina.
Virginia Tech and UNC will make the SEC the first super conference.
And give it a shot at making $1 billion in TV money.
In its never-ending quest to match the SEC blow for blow, the Big 10 becomes the second conference to reach 16 members.
Notre Dame joins Duke, Georgia Tech, and Maryland as part of the new foursome.
UND is obsessed with its independence, but with larger conferences leading to fewer out-of-conference games it's no longer as advantageous as it used to be.
It's funny to think that a potential Pac-16 made up of a bunch of Texas and Oklahoma schools is what got the ball rolling a few years ago, yet it never came to fruition.
Like the current Big 10, the Pac-12 loves the way things are. But unlike the Big 10, it has no logical area to expand to.
Even suggesting a Boise State and/or BYU addition is ludicrous, so the Pac-12 remains a 12-team conference
The Big Four (Big 10, Big 12, SEC, Pac-12) enter a weird new era of cooperation now that they have no where else to expand
The haves and have nots of college football will be even more clearly-defined than they currently are with all of these major changes.
UConn, Cincinnati, Rutgers, Syracuse, and whatever else is left of the Big East and ACC will for all intents and purposes be discarded.
These two conferences are already considered the weak links in major college football, but with a greater concentration of power things will only get worse for the left overs.
Just wait until the major TV networks start fighting for rights to the four-team playoff set to begin during the 2014 season.
Conference commissioners, university presidents, and athletic directors will fall in love with this new revenue stream and want more of it.
We're not saying a 16-team playoff field is completely out of the question, but they'll tinker with eight for a while before getting there.
Another result of TV money? The Big Four will each have their own network as well.
That SEC-Big 12 postseason partnership we mentioned earlier was just the beginning.
The giant success of a college football playoff and not having to adhere to the ridiculous conditions created by third parties, i.e. bowls and their dumb ticket sale requirements, will result in fewer and fewer bowl games.
Throw in rumblings of raising the minimum number of wins required to qualify for a bowl game from six to seven and there doesn't seem to be too much life left in this old system.
It won't die off completely, though. It'll survive in the same way the NIT has in college hoops. Plus, all those MAC and Sun Belt schools need something to do in December.
Texas has one.
Notre Dame will only join a conference if it can do the same (the Big 10 or anyone else would allow it in lieu of their currently exclusive NBC deal).
And schools like Ohio State, Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Georgia could also launch successful TV ventures.
As far as live game programming goes, these networks would carry what's called third-tier games: those that conferences don't televise nationally and already allow individual schools to decide on how to broadcast them.
Coaching in major college football is a very cut throat, high stakes endeavour filled with giant pay checks.
All the shakeups will only intensify things, resulting in even bigger payouts for the men in charge.
The highest paid coaches currently earn just north of $5 million, expect it to double once everything is said and done.
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