Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The geography of realignment

Four, maybe five, super conferences; major television markets equating to major network deals; bringing together the best which thus stimulates new rivalries and enhances traditional ones. These are some of the reasons being floated for the crazed college athletics realignment world in which we live.

Rarely has the word "geography" or even "proximity" been used in what we've seen publicly. Let's take a look, shall we, at just how expansive some of these conferences will become if realignment becomes a reality.


The name of this conference, by the way, is the "Atlantic Coast Conference." That league will now feature Pittsburgh, from the hill country of Pennsylvania, which is roughly 380 miles from the Atlantic seaboard. The new league, with the addition of Syracuse and Pitt, will cover 10 states and a distance of 1,750 miles, north to south--the approximate mileage from Syracuse, N.Y. to Miami, FL. The good news? All of the schools are in the eastern time zone.

Big Ten

The Big Ten seems content--at least for now--to remain at 12 teams. (Don't even get me started on conference branding and the numbering system.) The granddaddy of all conferences covers nine states, two time zones, and a 1,230 mile trip from Lincoln, NE to State College, PA.

Pac 12

Let's make the leap that Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech are headed to the Pac 12. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to see the wackiness of any Texas school aligned with a conference that has the word "Pacific" in its naming convention. This expanded group of schools covers eight states but spread over three time zones. And, look out for that Austin, TX to Seattle, WA trip--that journey totes up to about 2,500 miles!


The new member in the SEC will be Texas A&M, if legal issues are worked out. That means that the conference will encompass 10 states and two time zones. The trip to avoid is from Lexington, KY to College Station, TX--about 1,060 miles.

Big 12/Big East

The runt of the realignment litter is the discussion about mashing-up Big 12 leftovers with remaining Big East football schools. For the sake of discussion, let's consider the league of Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Cincinnati, Louisville, South Florida, TCU and West Virginia. (This assumes that Connecticut and Rutgers will eventually defect to the ACC, following Syracuse and Pitt.) That's eight states, two time zones and a 1,425 mile trip from Ames, IA to Tampa, FL.

What's it all mean? Not much as little to no consideration seems to be given to travel schedules for student-athletes or the former convenience for fans to drive to away games. Who's surprised? Nothing has seemed logical over these past several days of long-standing conference relationships being blown up and long-time rivalries being cavalierly dismissed. As I keep thinking, it's sad...

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