With all the talk flying around the internet about Texas A&M and the SEC, and my long-held opinion that super-sized major football conferences are unsustainable, I figured now was as good a time as any to start a series I've been working on for a while.
For the purposes of this project, we'll assume that in the not too distant future, the four or five 14-16 team conferences some pundits are claiming are inevitable actually did happen. The Big East was mostly divided among the ACC and Big Ten; the SEC pulled in schools from the Big 12 and ACC, and the Pac 12 raided the Big 12 and Mountain West. However, actually playing in those conferences proved to be difficult, fans had little interest in their far-flung 'conference rivals', and when the TV contracts for the super-conferences came up for renewal, no network was willing to pay out the enormous rights fees that had created them, or even of the last 12-team conference era. The networks demanded smaller conferences with more high-interest games per school (whether from high-quality teams or traditional rivalries). And to accomplish downsizing, the Big Ten agreed to something it had only done once before with the University of Chicago -- allowing schools that left to remain in the CIC academic consortium. The first move in response was a breakaway from the Big Ten and ACC led by Penn State, and in the wake of that smaller conferences began reestablishing themselves. In fact, the NCAA banned football conference championship games, driving the final nail into the coffin for the remaining super-conferences.
The new conferences that were formed in the aftermath of the death of the super-conferences often looked back to the past before the expansion in the 1990s, 2000s, and finally the super-conferences of the mid-2010s. Indeed, the Big Ten and Pac 10 emerged with exactly the same members they had before expanding beyond ten, and the SWC and Big 8 were reborn with some changes in membership (and in name, as a conference fromed mostly from Big 8 schools called itself the Big 9), and the SEC, though smaller, had only one member that was not part of the conference back when it expanded to 12 in 1995. But the Big East, ACC, and minor conferences that emerged were very different than their predecessors.
The conferences that come out of the collapse of the super-conferences will be described in this series.
The Big East
The Big 9
The Big Ten
The Pac 10
The Gulf Coast Conference (CUSA)
| The Sun Belt
The Great Lakes Conference
The Mountain West