In the last 10 months, college football has been shaken up more than it has in years. The landscape of the sport was completely scrambled in 2010-2014 when the last major conference realignment happened. Former Big 12 schools Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas A&M all made the decision to jump ship and head to the Pac-12, Big Ten, and SEC.
It left a large wake in the sport, causing the Big 12 to reach out and add TCU and West Virginia to the conference. Meanwhile, the ACC added Pittsburgh and Syracuse, the Pac-12 added Utah, and the Big East’s involvement in FBS football was liquidated, turning the conference into a non-football conference.
That period of time was certainly something that had a profound effect on college football, but it may soon be outdone by what the future holds. The SEC adding Oklahoma and Texas, two of the richest football programs in the country, might just turn this sport on its head. Originally, it was thought the Big 12 had seen its final days, but commissioner Bob Bowlsby acted fast and was able to stabilize the conference’s future by adding the top schools from the “Group of Five” level: BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF.
For now, the waters are calm but it seems a storm is inevitable, it’s just a matter of when it will strike. However, if you ask the Miami Hurricanes Athletic Director, Dan Radakovich, the worst may be behind us.
“I’m not sure that there’s a huge number of schools out there looking to move right now,” Radakovich told ESPN. “Maybe among the Group of 5 there’s continued movement, but I don’t see that as much on the horizon with the Power 5 schools.”
Radakovich recently became the Miami AD after serving the same role for Clemson from 2012-2021. As far as television contracts go, the ACC is probably the most stable of the conferences right now, as their current deal is not set to expire until 2036. The rest of the “Power Five” conferences will see their current deals end in the next three years, although the SEC has already signed a new contract with ESPN through 2034.
So, the question remains, have the storms calmed for the foreseeable future or will we see other schools make the jump to another conference. It was rumored shortly after the Oklahoma-Texas news that Florida State and Clemson were looking to make a splash as well, but that was diffused before it could gain any traction. The ACC has desired to add Notre Dame for years, but will the Irish let go of their megadeal with NBC? It is doubtful, but if expansion continues it will likely force the Fighting Irish to look at joining the conference as a full-time member.
For now, things have gone quiet but it doesn’t take much to see the false sense of security that commissioners have with where things currently stand. Look no further than the rejection of a 12-team playoff. The 11 voting members had to be unanimous in a decision to make it happen before 2026, but the vote was split 8-3. Those three voters, commissioners from the Pac-12, ACC, and Big Ten, all had issues with the format, and part of it was due to uncertainty. If others decide to jump ship, we could see the rise of super conferences. But, for now, everyone will just keep rowing the boat along in search of dry land to ride out the next storm, whenever it does come.