As the World Turns: The Soap Opera of Conference Realignment

September 29, 2011
by Justin

It was the fall of 1993 when my parents walked into the living room that fateful Friday night. Disney had finally released Aladdin, which at the time was my favorite movie. My Dad always bought movies once a week, so when he pulled out the VHS of Aladdin, I nearly did a back flip. Outside of the songs and the witty things that Genie said, my favorite part was when a disguised Jafar tricked Aladdin into going treasure hunting for the almighty lamp. This scene is where I learned the “Golden Rule”; whoever has the gold, makes the rules.


In the cutthroat world of college football, there is no mercy rule. Classic, big name conferences like the Big 12, don’t even have twelve teams left. The Big 12 is in the fight of its life, as they try to salvage the relationship with their two superpowers, Oklahoma and Texas. Last week the Texas flirted with the possibility of moving West into the Pac 12. Texas would join the Pac 12 South along with their rivals from Norman, Oklahoma. Surely, the Sooners had to be apart of the deal; they couldn’t lose the revenue of the Red River Shootout.

So what happened to the deal? The deal that Texas tried to make was simple; we’ll join your conference, add relevance to your league in the South, expand your television marketability and overall revenue; we just have to keep our money from the Longhorn Network. The Pac 12 had a problem with that.

The Longhorn Network isn’t just some cable access channel. TLN is a Disney owned, ESPN ran, billion-dollar entity. It’s offered by almost every major cable company in the United States (Time Warner Cable, Verizon Fios, Comcast, AT&T U-verse, DirecTV and Dish Network) and is the ultimate advertisement for the University of Texas. This venture also generated money within the conference for schools like Texas Tech, who was formally offered five million dollars to exclusively broadcast their game against Texas along with four future non-conference games.

The Pac 12 settled on maintaining their current amount of teams. Larry Scott, the Commissioner for the Pac 12, stated that, “While we have great respect for all of the institutions that have contacted us, and certain expansion proposals were financially attractive, we have a strong conference structure and culture of equality that we are committed to preserve.” Simply, they don’t need to add new members who don’t want to fall in line with the conference’s financial model. Texas found out that there is no “I” in conference.


The conference with the most gold is the Southeastern Conference. The last five national champions and a vast majority of the NFL Draft’s high profile picks, have come from the SEC. It made sense that when the conference considered expanding, several schools came calling. The one school that was accepted and fully crossed over was Texas A&M.

The Aggies, who have yet to escape the Longhorn’s shadow, took their ball and went home to the SEC. They’ll undoubtedly struggle, but now they have college football’s most elite conference on their resume. Recruiting Texas, which the Longhorns thrive at, will be a little easier than it was once they become competitive. The SEC looks to have another National Champion in the Louisiana State Tigers and don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. The SEC has what every conference desires; stability, championship legacy and high-level recruits flocking from all over the map.


The biggest story in recent conference realignment has been the secession of two major, Big East schools to the ACC. The Syracuse Orangemen and the Pittsburg Panthers, both originally charter members of the Big East went to the ACC looking for a boost in football revenue. The ACC looks to be a future mega conference a la the SEC. Syracuse and Pitt bring more depth to a struggling basketball conference, and trade more credibility as a football school in the top-heavy ACC. In the midst of this controversial move, Syracuse’s Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim expressed his lack of enthusiasm with the move. This being because the Big East, though not known for their football prowess, is the best basketball conference hands down. Selling recruits on their credibility was never a problem. The Big East is rumored to be in negotiations with the Big 12 to join forces. One thing that’s for sure, the dog days of the B.C.S. are numbered.

As a former recruit, I couldn’t imagine going to sleep in the Big 12 and waking up in the Pac-12. I’ll say it once, and I’ll say it again; there is nothing Pacific about Texas. Conference realignment teaches us that all that glitters isn’t gold. Whatever golden credo your life is based on will often determine where your ultimate value is placed. Whether you are a traditional, Midwestern Big 10 fan, or you love the thought of 24-team mega conferences, conference realignment give us all hope in the prospect of every fans’ ultimate dream; a playoff. Hopefully, when the dust settles, the B.C.S. will be M.I.A. and we can finally close the case on who really is number one each year.



Yorick Hempstead is an ex-college athlete who is a sports blogger for He is always talking sports on twitter @HempsteadHuddle. 

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