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Why the era of super conferences scares me

Texas A&M, through no fault of their own, could start a troublesome ripple effect.

Texas A&M could set off a troubling trend

Texas A&M, through no fault of their own, could start a troublesome ripple effect.

Texas A&M’s Board of Regents voted unanimously to give President R. Bowen Loftin the authority to pursue a new conference home for the school. By all accounts, that is the first legal hurdle required to leave the Big 12 for the SEC. The SEC meanwhile wants to slow down the process so they can evaluate the options that best suit them. If they decide to invite Texas A&M, who else do they add? Florida State? Missouri?

The more important question is, what would Texas A&M moving to the SEC mean for the rest of the college athletics scene?

Are we truly gearing up for the era of the super conferences, with the Pac-12, Big Ten and SEC gobbling up the remainder of the Big 12 and plucking schools from the Big East and ACC as well as Conference USA, the MAC, Mountain West Conference and so on?

College Football News takes a look in to their crystal ball and predicts what the conferences may look like in 2014, once the conference carousel comes to a full and complete stop. Temple in the Big East. Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse and Maryland in the Big Ten. Texas joining BYU and Notre Dame as an independent. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Texas Tech to the Pac 12 16. How about a Pac-18?

Kentucky Wildcats basketball coach John Calipari spoke out about his idea that super conferences should be what the goal should be. “We should be 16 teams,” Calipari said of the SEC. “And then there should be a 16-team league out west and there should be a 16-team league north of us and there should be a 16-team league east of us. Or 18 (teams). Either one. That’s what it should be, in my opinion.”

Allow me to say that I have always been a supporter of a playoff format in college football’s FBS level. To me, determining a national champion based on polls as much as the FBS and BCS do is a silly concept. At the same time, I do love the bowl season. But for the good of the game, I feel that having a playoff format similar to the FCS, Division 2, Division 3, NAIA and NFL and high school levels (you know, every football level but FBS) just makes sense.  Moving to fewer conferences with larger membership would seem to be one way of paving that road to a playoff format, so I ask myself if that is something I am ready to give up.

It is not. And quite frankly, the idea of super conferences scares the crap out of me as a college football fan.

Super conferences take away something to root for at many schools, including Florida International.

Look, I’m the kind of guy that can sit down on a Saturday afternoon and watch games all day, regardless of who is playing. I love being able to check out a Thursday night or Friday night game and I have been known to take in some Tuesday night MACtion from time to time. I get caught up in games no matter what the conference is, and like to watch the championship picture come together in every conference, from the Sun Belt to the SEC. By going to an era of super conferences, you lose that aspect of the sport.

If college football moves to four super regional conferences, or however it gets divided, then schools like Florida International (2010 Sun Belt champions), Central Florida (Conference USA), and Miami, Ohio (MAC) will never again make a championship run. Ever. Same goes for Nevada, Hawaii and Central Michigan and East Carolina. To me, every conference championship is something special that players can aim for at every level and at every school. Would Temple, Akron, or Western Michigan ever have a sniff of a championship run in a Super East conference comprised of Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Boston College? Not to mention being in the same regional conference as perhaps Maryland, Iowa, Connecticut and Syracuse.

Imagine what those schools would have to pitch in recruiting then. You can’t say with a straight face that those kids will have a chance to win a championship. Instead it will be all about where you will travel “We’ll get to travel to Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Georgia every year and get a solid paycheck beatdown experience!”

If you are OK with taking away that championship hunt from the MAC, Sun Belt, WAC, Mountain West, and Conference USA, then maybe this is idea of super conferences is OK with you.

If it happens, so be it. But I won’t like it.


I want to know what you think about the idea of super conferences. Cast your vote below and leave a comment in the comment section with your thoughts on the idea, pro or con. You can also say you are undecided if that is the case. I’ll take a look at the answers next week.

About the Author

Kevin McGuire
Contributor to College Football Talk on Also a contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Member of Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.

I agree with you. I don't want to see these 16 team super league. Last year, EVERYONE was saying it was coming to that and the moves were fairly minor in the grand scheme of college football. I think we may see a 14 team league or two, but not the full-fledged four 16 team leagues and then the rest go to scraps. The Pac-12 can't really add more teams unless they do get four teams from the former Big 12 South and unless there is a way to get Texas and Oklahoma together they won't add just to add. To get to 16 they would need TAMU and Oklahoma State. The move is money driven because all of these leagues are getting deals that are paying schools anywhere from $17 - $25 million a year and I guess if they can chip away at other conferences and bring more teams to get above $30 million per school or more. This has nothing to do with competition, because if it did then BYU and Boise State would be in better leagues. This really does hurt the smaller league, as a fan of the MWC this would suck, because as you said no other team outside of the super leagues could compete. If this is done they might as well break off and make a new division and I don't want to see that happening. I honestly see expansion stopping at 14 teams.


Considering college football is at a record high for interest, I am not sure a playoff adds to that and has the potential to take away the popularity. A problem with going beyond 12 teams in a league is scheduling unless ADs are willing to play only conference games or have a bit of a watered down championship. If a league goes to 16 in football (Calipari, basketball is an after thought), then you might play the 7 teams in your division and 1 team from the other division. Do SEC fans want to drop playing Alabama to twice every decade (close to it)?