It can easily be referred to as the craziest June in the history of college football – what with all the rumors swirling around regarding conference expansion and realignment across just about all of the major conferences.
But now that the dust has mostly settled, we can move on and attempt to assess the winners and losers as college football currently stands.
Here they are, in no particular order – starting with the winners:
College Football Conference Realignment Aftermath: Winners and Losers
WINNER: Big 12 Conference
The most obvious choice of all is obviously the Big 12 Conference, because well… it’s still alive and ticking. Credit Texas for being the glue that kept the conference with ten teams – or credit someone else – but either way, the BCS still has one of its strongest conferences intact, and with just two minor casualties in Colorado and Nebraska.
The Longhorns played the role of the hot girl that everyone wants to go to prom with – from the Big Ten courting them, to the Pac-10 making them the top desire, and to the Big 12 conference wanting to keep them.
When it was all said and done, not only does Texas stay, but they also will reel in a ton of extra cash for the university, and the conference in the form of a future TV deal that’s in the works.
WINNER: Big Ten Conference
The Big Ten was one of the biggest winners of the week – adding the Nebraska Cornhuskers and their tradition-rich football program to the mix.
On top of that, the Big Ten gets its 12th team, which now can lead to a conference championship, more revenue, more exposure – and in the end, a likely bigger step towards major bowl victories, as each conference champion will have a shorter layoff between the end of the regular season and BCS bowl week.
The Big Ten is a great fit for the Huskers, who find themselves as a part of the very lucrative Big Ten Network, plus one could argue they are in a conference that features a more cultural fit than they had when a part of the Big 12.
Also, the geographic nature of the Big Ten should potentially help Nebraska with the recruiting process going forward.
WINNER: Kansas Basketball
Many haven’t touched upon this one, but one of the biggest powers in college hoops may have found themselves without a major conference, and losing some big time programs to play against on a regular basis. Instead, the Big 12 conference remains intact and the Jayhawks will still have Oklahoma and Texas frequenting their schedule during the winter months.
WINNER: The Big 12 Leftovers
Teams like Missouri, Baylor, Kansas and Kansas State were rumored to be hours from being without a conference. The result would have likely been a move to a conference with significantly less competition, and also less money for their respective programs.
Instead, each school (and their representatives) can breathe a giant sigh of relief.
WINNER: The BCS
Honestly, if you look at the BCS, there could have been a significant change in the balance of conference power – and with the way the system is set up currently, it was a great possibility that a significantly weaker conference could have been earning an automatic berth with the changes that almost occurred.
Therefore, the minimal changes that did go through should keep legit automatic berths in play for all the major conferences – and everyone’s favorite BCS can continue to put mostly big-time schools in the major bowl games.
LOSER: Pac-10 Conference
This is the most glaringly obvious choice among the list of losers, considering that throughout the week, the Pac-10 was rumored to be hours from becoming a superconference featuring 16 teams, including Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12.
Now, not only did they lose out on the Big 12’s best, they are also having issues with their own elite schools, mainly USC and the sanctions it is currently facing.
Fortunately, there are rumors that Utah may be moving to the Pac-10 – and combined with Colorado, they can boost the conference up to 12 teams.
LOSER: Mountain West Conference
Listen, the addition of Boise State to the MWC is a good thing – a great thing, actually.
However, there are several rumors pointing to Utah departing for the Pac-10, especially after the Big 12 powers decided to stay put.
On top of all this, the Mountain West appeared primed to steal away a major BCS berth if the Big 12 fell apart – and now that opportunity may have faded away as well.
LOSER: FOX Network
The rumors of a Pac-10 super conference also were pointing to FOX teaming up to form a network for the new and improved group of schools, but now that deal doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as lucrative as it could have been – and instead of stealing away some revenue and figures from ESPN, little has changed as the situation stands now.
With the Trojans facing sanctions, there could have been a boost for the school to be coupled with some of the biggest powers in college football, mainly Texas and Oklahoma moving to the Pac-10. Having teams that travel well and bring in big money may have helped soften the blow that will result from the pending sanctions against the Trojans.
For those that don’t buy into this, think outside the box. It may be two years without a bowl game, but adding in the loss of scholarships – and it is possible USC could be years from being elite again.
LOSER: Big 12 Conference
Finally, the conference realignment goes full-circle, with the Big 12 conference emerging also as a loser on my list.
It’s a winner for staying alive, but it’s a loser due to the fact that after losing Colorado and Nebraska, the Big 12 is in a position to lose its conference championship game. Now, they can see how tough it can be to have such a long layoff before a major bowl game. This has been a major sticking point for the Big Ten over recent years.