Spring sports are still going, so we’re not in full offseason mode yet, but we’re close. And this point in the calendar typically ends up yielding some fun conversations around hypotheticals — like conference realignment.
One particular article on FBSchedules recently grabbed my attention, proposing a plan to reform college football into seven geographically-affiliated leagues of 11 teams apiece. The goal would be to streamline scheduling, create a more standardized path to a national title, and expand the College Football Playoff to eight teams.
As fans of the Syracuse Orange, we’re not necessarily concerned with the latter two at this moment, but the first one is certainly appealing. Syracuse has long lagged in terms of scheduling, and while that’s changed since John Wildhack took over the athletic department, it would still be nice to take that off of our plates.
This solution, while it would never happen, not only does that but also realigns us with the Northeast teams we always wanted to play every year anyway.
You’ll recall our ideas on what an independent Syracuse football schedule would look like, and this “Northeast Conference” behaves similarly. The other 10 teams, beyond SU:
- Army Black Knights
- Boston College Eagles
- Maryland Terrapins
- Navy Midshipmen
- Penn State Nittany Lions
- Pittsburgh Panthers
- Rutgers Scarlet Knights
- Virginia Cavaliers
- Virginia Tech Hokies
- West Virginia Mountaineers
This checks all the boxes, though also removes us (and all of these teams) from Florida recruits. We get historical rivalries, an in-state foe, no UConn, and even something surprising to fuel a budding feud with UVA. This list of programs comprises nine of the 11 FBS teams we’ve faced the most in our history. The only one not on the list is UVA (five meetings all-time). As mentioned, there’s other factors to make that a rivalry, though.
Under the proposed plan, SU would face all 10 teams, then at least one opponent from one of the other six geographically-aligned leagues. The final opponent would come from the list of schools that have been left out of this 77-team alignment, but can’t include FCS. I think that’s an arbitrary line, really, since this proposal would leave just 53 programs to schedule with. But this whole thing’s fairly unrealistic, so I’ll entertain it.
The other aspect of this, beyond the rivalries, is how Syracuse would fare competitively in this conference? If we just use S&P+ ratings for the coming season, the Orange (71st) rank ahead of Virginia (73), Maryland (80), Rutgers (84), Navy (85) and Army (92). If you win all of those, that’s already five wins. Assuming bowl eligibility rules don’t change in this setup, that means just one more needed to go to the postseason.
Again, not going to happen. But do you like this setup? I consider myself a fan.