A shifting landscape

Published 6:28 pm Wednesday, June 9, 2010

In sports, there are constantly stories that are overanalyzed, beaten into the ground and just generally overplayed.

However, the recent talk of collegiate conference expansion is one overanalyzed, overplayed story that I just can’t get enough of.

Ever since the talk of the Big 10 expanding started, I’ve spent countless hours thinking about all the different ways this could go, from the landscape-altering scenarios involving 16-team “superconferences” to the possibility of status quo.

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And, honestly, I hope the dominoes start to fall everywhere.

The first domino may have fallen late Tuesday, when news broke that Nebraska is on the verge of jumping to the Big 10.

Now, I know that a lot of people are against what could be a complete reshuffling of the deck in college football, but I am all for it.

Let’s just assume some of the more drastic scenarios play out, and we get 16 teams in both the Big 10 and Pac 10.

That would give us Missouri, Nebraska, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Northwestern, Indiana, Purdue, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Penn State as one half of the annual Rose Bowl picture.

The Pac 10 would counter with USC, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, Stanford, UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado.

But why stop there? The Big 10’s Big 10 network, which is the driving force behind the conference’s initial plans for realignment, has other conferences, such as the SEC scrambling to get their own networks up and running.

If more teams means more money, what’s to stop the SEC and ACC from expanding as well?

A 16-team conference could become the standard, setting off a rash of conference jumps.

The SEC could raid the ACC for Virginia Tech, Florida State, Miami and Clemson, causing the ACC to turn around and pick off what would be left off the Big East.

That would leave us with four “superconferences”, all with title games.

Sounds an awful lot like a playoff to me.

Sure, the BCS would technically still be around, but it would be pretty clear most of the time who the top four teams in the country were, and picking two out of four is a lot easier than picking two out of the sometimes 10 possible choices we have now.

Sure, traditional alignments would be a thing of the past, but this could be good for college football.

Plus, I’m sure there are plenty of people around here who would love to see Conference USA come calling.

Nick Duke a sports writer for The Messenger, and he can be reached at nick.duke@Troymessenger.com or on Twitter at Messenger_nick.