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Sneaky Good Pod: Conference Realignment

Paul and Poseur become football omnipotent

Conference realignment is all the rage these days, as it always is in the summer and we don't have actual football to talk about. And we've heard all the arguments for Big 12 expansion a million times before, so it really just feels like having the same discussion over and over again, like the worst rendition of Groundhog Day.

So, Paul and I decided to put a new spin on things and play college football god, and completely rewrite the conferences without any regard for what exists right now. You can listen to the Sneaky Good Podcast for all the fun:

We came up with six conferences of 12 teams, the perfect number for a conference. We didn't get into how the playoffs would work, but this seems ideal for an 8-team playoff with 6 conference champs plus two at-large bids.

We mainly focused on geography and rivalries, but we were also curious about how balanced our mythical college football universe would be. So we took each conference and found every team's program rank over the past 50 years, according to CFB Data Warehouse.

This excludes the leather helmet days, but also tries not to overrate the current, shifting landscape. Fifty years is a pretty long time to determine the relative quality of each program, but the ranks shouldn't be taken as gospel. It's just a rough guide. Here's what we came up with.

The Big East

5

Ohio St

OH

6

Notre Dame

IN

10

Michigan

MI

12

Penn St

PA

22

Michigan St

MI

36

Pitt

PA

38

WVU

WV

49

Syracuse

NY

56

BC

MA

77

Navy

MD

82

Rutgers

NJ

99

Army

NY

91

Top 6

492

Total

Super top heavy. Four programs in the top 12, and then only one more in the top 25. Also, Army is lower than 99, but I made 99 the high end of the rankings, as there's really no difference between schools ranked that low. Let's face it, with a top tier that strong, they have earned the wretched bottom tier of the conference of Rutgers and the two service academies. Plus, I really like how Notre Dame was able to preserve all of its rivalries (save USC) as conference games. They can play USC out of conference. And while it's weird to sever Ohio St and Michigan from the rest of the Big Ten, what beloved rivalries are we really losing?

The Big 12

3

Nebraska

NE

20

Colorado

CO

26

Iowa

IA

27

Wisconsin

WI

33

Mizzou

MO

34

Purdue

IN

41

K-State

KS

42

Illinois

IL

48

Minnesota

MN

52

Kansas

KS

58

Indiana

IN

96

Colorado St

CO

143

Top 6

480

Total

Nebraska better have a resurgence. Even though the top 6 of the Big East is far stronger, the Big 12 comes in with a lower overall total rank of all its program ranks. That's because this conference is super balanced, and outside Colorado St, lacks a truly terrible program (and CSU is a possible up and comer). Every season, nearly every team comes into the season with a legit chance to win the conference, unless they have a terrible staff. We would also expect Wisconsin and Mizzou to continue their meteoric rises.

ACC

7

Florida St

FL

8

Miami

FL

25

Clemson

SC

29

Georgia Tech

GA

32

Virginia Tech

VA

40

South Carolina

SC

53

NC State

NC

54

UNC

NC

55

Maryland

MD

63

Virginia

VA

72

Wake Forest

NC

73

Duke

NC

141

Top 6

511

Total

Despite the two Florida schools, the ACC ranks as just about the same as the Big 12, even on its top tier. That's because this conference, like today's ACC, completely lacks a middle class. The problem here is that the North Carolina schools have completely failed to pull their weight in football. The best of them, NCSU, ranks only 53rd.

SEC

1

Bama

AL

9

Florida

FL

13

LSU

LA

14

Georgia

GA

15

Auburn

AL

16

Tennessee

TN

31

Ole Miss

MS

46

Mississippi St

MS

59

Kentucky

KY

66

Louisville

KY

67

Southern Miss

MS

99

South Fla

FL

68

Top 6

436

Total

By far the strongest top 6, but that's because of the huge glut of programs ranked in the mid-teens. Four programs rank in the top 16, and only two in the top ten. Tennessee ranks as the sixth best program of the past 50 years, and the next best #6 team in a conference is #30 Oklahoma St. Which is a long way of saying that the SEC earns USM and USF. They need some patsies. While the SEC's 68 is the lowest top 6 score, its 436 is NOT the lowest overall score. That honor goes to...

SWC

4

Oklahoma

OK

11

Texas

TX

21

Arkansas

AR

23

Texas A&M

TX

28

Arizona St

AZ

30

Okie St

OK

35

Arizona

AZ

39

Texas Tech

TX

44

Baylor

TX

45

Houston

TX

57

TCU

TX

80

La Tech

LA

117

Top 6

417

Total

Hell, this conference might be even stronger than the rankings, as it has TCU as the 57th program and the second worst program in the new SWC. The strength of this conference is the lack of bad teams other than our final throw in of Louisiana Tech. Sure, there's a power couple at the top, but there are four teams ranked between 21 and 30, and a grand total of ten top 50 programs, the most of conference. Heck, the SEC only has eight. We've created a... wait for it... sneaky good conference.

Pac-12

2

USC

CA

17

Washington

WA

18

UCLA

CA

19

Stanford

CA

24

Oregon

OR

39

Cal

CA

43

WSU

WA

47

BYU

UT

51

Ore St

OR

64

Utah

UT

68

AFA

CO

69

Boise

ID

119

Top 6

461

Total

We pretty much recreated the Pac-12, minus the Arizona schools. It ranks as a near perfectly average conference both in its top 6 and overall ranks. It does have the issue of no real challenger to USC, but that's a problem that exists now, and may be rectified by the rise of Oregon and Stanford. And when the worst program is Boise, you're doing pretty good, as their positive results are all on the recent side. Boise jumps to 57th in the last 20 year rankings.

How did we do?