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College Football: Conference Realignment and What it Means For Local Teams

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Nippert Stadium
Nippert Stadium

We're all Bengals fans and when it comes to NFL conference alignment, well, it's not going to be changing any time soon. Thirty-two teams in eight divisions separated into two difference conferences; it's pretty much perfect. College football is a completely different story.

There are many conferences but the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) makes only six of those conferences really matter. Those six are the Big Ten, Big 12, PAC 10, SEC, ACC and the Big East. The two teams that I grew up cheering for (and I'd be willing to bet most of you did too) are Ohio State and the recently successful University of Cincinnati.

We've all heard the rumors circling about the coming conference realignment and we've definitely seen the rumors become fact lately as some Big 12 teams have jumped ship. Here's what has happened so far:

  • Nebraska left the Big 12 for the Big Ten
  • Colorado left the Big 12 for the PAC 10
  • Boise State left the WAC and joined the Mountain West Conference
  • The rest of the Big 12 seamed to begin to fall apart as rumors of the departure of Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma to the PAC-10 begin to surface.
  • Today, the University of Texas announced that it will remain in the Big-12 due to a new Big-12 TV deal that could pay up to $25 million a year.
  • As it is right now, the Big-12 sits at 10 teams and the Big Ten sits at 12.
  • More rumors.... The University of Missouri could be heading to the Big Ten and the Big-12 could try to grab some replacement teams out of the Mountain West Conference.

These past two weeks have been incredibly hectic in the college football world and I'm sure I've missed some things but we're all seeing the gist of things and the gist of things is that things are changing. If anybody out there is confused about why teams are leaving their conferences in pursuit of greener pastures, there's millions of reasons as in millions of dollars (greener pastures.... HA! I just got that).

Here's the breakdown of the six different BCS conferences TV contracts and how much they're worth. The difference is staggering.

BCS conference Amount of contract
Big Ten $242 million
SEC $205 million
Big 12 $78 million
ACC $67 million
Pacific-10 $58 million
Big East

$33 million

So, what does all of this mean for one of my two favorite teams, Ohio State? This means absolutely nothing for the scarlet and gray. Ohio State will make just as much as they always do and if the Big Ten expands into a mega-conference, like a lot of people think it will, then they will probably just make more money.

What does all of this mean for UC? Well, it could be a death sentence for the Bearcats. If things stay as they are now and the bigger conferences don't expand any more than they have, then the Bearcats and the rest of the Big East will probably be safe. However, if the PAC-10, Big Ten and SEC absorb teams from the smaller conferences and become mega-conferences like a lot of people expect, UC will probably be left behind. Why? Nippert Stadium is tiny, it only holds 35,000, that's why.

Here's the scenario: The Big-12 dissolves, most teams joining the PAC-10. The PAC-10 would have, let's say, 16 teams. The Big Ten and SEC will follow suit. The Big Ten will eat up whatever Big 12 teams are left and then dip into the Big East, grabbing teams like University of Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Syracuse, effectively destroying the conference. Those would be the first three Big East teams to go because those three teams play in the biggest stadiums. Then the SEC and Big Ten would grab the biggest teams out of the ACC and what's left of the Big East.

If that scenario plays out, what's left of the Big East and the ACC would probably join together but would be unable to compete with three mega-conferences that would be making so much more money than the new Big-ACC. So, we just said hello to a great UC football program and we would say goodbye just as fast as we said goodbye to Brian Kelly.

The fact that Texas is staying in the Big-12 will help UC because if Texas can keep the Big-12 afloat, it would prevent the other conferences from expanding, at least for now. Another reason that this may not happen is because the Big East is a basketball powerhouse and nobody wants to see that get broken up.

We'll see what happens soon enough but here's hoping that UC keeps getting better and the six conferences stay as they are now.