What if the Big East still played football?

Big East football was the biggest casualty of the 2010-2014 NCAA conference realignment period, as the conference that had been founded around basketball talent had worked their way to being a major football conference before some of their top programs had left when Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College left for the ACC in 2004-2005. The Big East recovered from this loss by adding some of the best teams from the Conference-USA in Cincinnati, Louisville and USF to remain worthy, in the eyes of the NCAA, to retain their champion’s automatic bid to a BCS bowl game. They wouldn’t be so lucky in this wave of realignment, as when the Big Ten and Pac-10 conferences announced plans to expand to 12 teams, the Big East decided it was time for them to add more football teams to get from 8 up to at least 10. Their first invite was TCU, a former Southwest conference member who had since had a lot of success in the Conference-USA and Mountain West, and they accepted in November of 2010 to join the Big East starting in 2012. A popular idea for a second team was UCF, but reports say that in-state rival USF was against the inclusion of UCF to the conference. After problems with getting a media deal, Pitt and Syracuse announced they were leaving for the ACC, a loss of two of the early Big East teams. That was followed by TCU backing out of the Big East and joining the Big 12, with West Virginia joining them, and this instability led to the downfall of the conference. However, if the Big East could have gotten UCF into its fold to join by 2011 and signed the media deal they nearly had, it would likely still be alive in the FBS today.

What Big East football would look like starting in 2012

The Big East in 2010 had football programs from founding members UConn and Syracuse, early arrival Pitt, 1991 additions West Virginia and Rutgers, and newcomers Louisville, Cincinnati, and South Florida. The additions of TCU and UCF would have created a ten team conference that would still not have divisions, although further expansion in the future could have possibly made a 12-team conference split into North and South divisions.

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Currently, these 10 schools are in a few different conferences, some in the power 5 while others are in the group of 5 in the American Athletic Conference. TCU and WVU are together in the Big 12, Louisville joined Syracuse and Pitt in the ACC, Rutgers is a member of the Big 10, and UConn, Cincinnati, UCF and USF are all in the Big East/Conference-USA offshoot AAC. TCU has had success, nearly making the first College Football Playoff in 2014, West Virginia has seen continued success in the Big 12, though not quite at the level they were with the Big East; Louisville has had a Heisman winner in Lamar Jackson; Syracuse and Pitt both had big years in 2018 with Pitt playing in the ACC championship game; UCF has had back-to-back undefeated regular seasons and a claimed national title that no one outside of Orlando thinks they won; USF was ranked in consecutive seasons in 2016 and 17, and Cincinnati is headed back in the right direction under Luke Fickell. Rutgers and UConn haven’t been seeing much success in football recently, but all the power 5 conferences have bottom-feeders, so they’ll be fine.

Untitled designAfter more reshuffling in 2014 sees them lose Rutgers to the Big Ten and Louisville to the ACC, the Big East adds Houston and Memphis from the CUSA, continuing to take the best teams that they have to offer. With the league now set, here’s a look at how scheduling would work, as teams would play everyone in the regular season, and starting in 2017 when the NCAA allowed conferences with less than 12 teams to have conference championship games the top two teams would face off in a championship game.

schedule

For an example of how this chart works, in 2015 TCU would get Houston at home and play Pitt on the road, and in 2016 they would flip so that TCU goes at Houston and hosts Pitt. To be completely honest, there was no logic to how I chose this schedule, I put teams in order of when I thought of them and then just alternated between home and road.

How would other Big 6 conference expansion have gone?

The team many thought would be the Big Ten’s twelfth when they announced they were looking to expand was Missouri, and Missouri wanted into the Big Ten. Mizzou would have had natural geographic rivals in Iowa and Illinois in the Big Ten, which first went to a non-geographically based divisions system with the Leaders and Legends, somewhat similar to the ACC’s Atlantic and Coastal divisions. These are hard to remember and impractical but can help evenly divide strong teams in a conference. No matter what divisional setup the Big Ten decided to implement, they were initially happy to just have 12 teams. We’ll assume Missouri joins at the same time Nebraska did, during the 2011 football season.

The Pac-10’s move to expand, ultimately becoming the Pac-12, was the other conference acting proactively rather than in reaction to other conference’s changes with expansion, so we’ll assume they go the same route as their original plan did with adding Colorado and Utah to get more of a presence in the Rocky Mountain region.

These moves would leave the Big 12 at ten members, even with the Big East, and lower than they would like but still an acceptable number. They hang on to Nebraska and Texas A&M and don’t see the need to bolster their football talent. Houston applies for Big 12 membership, but similarly to the Big 12’s recent considered expansion in real life, they and other suitors (such as BYU) are denied.

At no point in the conference realignment period were the ACC or SEC particularly concerned with expansion, both conferences had teams apply for membership and chose to accept them, rather than offering teams a spot and having them make the final decision. The major conferences were happy with 12 teams before anyone made a move for 14, so despite some talk of the Pac-10 getting as many as 6 schools from the Big 12 to potentially form a 16 team conference, the big 6 end up with no conferences with more than 12 teams for now.

Consequences for small conferences

In the middle of the craziness that was the conference realignment going on across the NCAA, the Conference-USA and Mountain West were very close to entering into a merger that would have put Hawaii, Boise State, FIU, and ECU all in the same conference. This merger would have combined 5 time zones into one conference, but was partly caused by the C-USA anticipating teams leaving for the AAC which would have never existed if the Big East survived, and was resolved when the Mountain West added several WAC teams to restore stability to their conference.

The Conference-USA had been arguably the best small conference before the Big East took some of their best teams in 2005, then the rest of their better teams left for the AAC in 2013-14, but without that exodus we can assume that the CUSA would have maintained their station as the best small conference on the eastern half of the country. If we assume they chose not to add the three teams transitioning up from the FCS since 2012 in Charlotte, UTSA and Old Dominion and limited their raid the Sun Belt to Middle Tennessee and North Texas, and took Louisiana Tech from the crumbling WAC they would have Southern Miss, UAB, Memphis, Tulane, Houston, ECU, SMU, Tulsa, Marshall, Rice, UTEP and Louisiana Tech. Army and Navy both end up in the Conference-USA, as Army had been a football-only member in the past and Navy is now in the AAC, giving them a 16-team conference that can be split East-West like so:

East: Army, ECU, Marshall, Memphis, Middle Tennessee, Navy, Southern Miss, UAB,

West: Louisiana Tech, Houston, North Texas, Rice, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa, UTEP

After a bit more shuffling in 2014 led to the Big East taking Houston and Memphis, the CUSA added FAU and FIU from the Sun Belt and was reshaped slightly to the following divisions:

East: Army, ECU, FAU, FIU, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Navy, UAB

West: Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, SMU, Southern Miss, Tulane, Tulsa, UTEP

The Mountain West was already seeing movement start early on in the realignment process as Boise State officially agreed to join in June 2010, just before Utah announced their departure for the Pac-12. That August, they offered spots to Fresno State and Nevada to join in part to try to keep BYU in the conference. Both schools joined but BYU still left the conference, as did TCU when they announced they were leaving for the Big East. They then added Hawaii as a football-only member to keep football at 10 teams. After agreeing in principle to a merger with the CUSA, they became more aware of the drawbacks of the partnership due to NCAA rules and backed out and hunted for more schools independently. They added San Jose State and Utah State from the WAC, which is no longer sponsoring football, putting them up to 12 teams to have a conference championship game.

The Sun Belt will continue to be the place for teams looking to transition from FCS to FBS at, as they will add Charlotte and Old Dominion instead of the CUSA as the non-formation of the AAC negates the CUSA’s urgency in adding teams, and in keeping some of the teams that the CUSA has taken from them in real life, the Sun Belt becomes a massive conference like the CUSA, keeping FIU, FAU, and Western Kentucky along with still having some older members in Arkansas State and Louisiana who were around before there was Sun Belt football, along with UL-Monroe and Troy from the early days of the conference sponsoring football, giving them 7 teams who were playing FBS football before 2012, when South Alabama added football to become a full member and the conference added other transition teams Texas State and UTSA to offset the losses of Middle Tennessee and North Texas, then added Georgia State in 2013, before more changes hit and they would lose FIU and FAU to the CUSA but add Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, and Old Dominion in 2014 to hit 12 teams and start a conference championship game, then Charlotte in 2015 and Coastal Carolina in 2017 to form a 14 team conference. An East-West split gives us this look:

East: Appalachian State, Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Old Dominion, Western Kentucky

West: Arkansas State, Louisiana, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy, UL-Monroe, UTSA

The MAC ends up keeping Temple and adding UMass, after not holding on to either school in real life, which means Bowling Green joins rival Toledo in the MAC West to balance the divisions in the 14-team MAC, the biggest it has been since they had Marshall and UCF in the conference.

The WAC still ends up going through major program change and having to drop football with Idaho and New Mexico State being the only teams left at the FBS level in the conference, which leaves us with just 4 small conferences and Notre Dame, New Mexico State, BYU, and Liberty all as independents, as they are along with Army in real life. We have 2 16-team “super-conferences,” something we haven’t yet seen in real life and would probably receive some other denotation here as neither of them are power conferences. All 4 small conferences end up with enough teams to have a conference championship, while the Big 12 and Big East would not have had enough under the NCAA rules that didn’t allow a football championship to be played in a conference with fewer than 12 teams until that rule was changed in 2017. The Big 12 and Big East would presumably then set up conference championships if they hadn’t yet expanded to 12 or more teams to get a championship game.

How would it have changed BCS/New Years 6 bowls since 2012?

2012

The 2012 BCS bowls would see a little change, with Michigan beating Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game due to Nebraska, who won the Legends division, not being in the conference now, putting Michigan in the Rose Bowl to face off with Stanford out of an 2012 bowlsunchanged Pac-12. The unchanged ACC still sends Florida State as its champion to the Orange Bowl to square off with Northern Illinois, who earned the automatic qualifier for small conference teams by going 12-1 in the MAC. Louisville still wins the Big East despite the challenge from newcomer TCU, and faces Florida, as an at-large bid, in the Sugar Bowl. Oregon still heads to the Fiesta Bowl as an at-large team who only lost to Stanford, but faces Texas A&M instead of Kansas State, as Heisman winner Johnny Manziel leads the Aggies to a Big 12 championship when they don’t leave for the SEC. Alabama still defeats Notre Dame in the championship game, their third title in four years early in the Nick Saban era.

 

2013

2013 would have to see changes, as that year Big East football no longer existed in real life. The Big Ten would have gone differently, as a really good Missouri team would have beaten Michigan State at home (assuming they have the same schedule that Nebraska had), earning a spot in the Big Ten championship game. We’ll say they beat Ohio State as MSU did to earn Mizzou a spot in the Rose Bowl, again against an unchanged Pac-12 champ in Stanford. The Fiesta Bowl pitted AAC champ UCF against Big 12 champ Baylor. That game stays unchanged despite both of these conferences (the AAC instead being the Big East) being better, as Baylor needed a thrilling high-scoring victory at 2013 bowlsTexas A&M to win the conference, a tougher battle than any they faced in real life as they got Oklahoma at home that year. The Sugar Bowl that year was Oklahoma against Alabama, both as at-large teams. Oklahoma’s record remains unchanged, and they add a good win over Texas A&M, but they end up as the lowest at large team and play in the Orange Bowl instead. Louisville takes there spot as a one-loss Big East runner up with their only blemish being the loss to UCF, and they take on Bama in the Sugar Bowl instead. The Orange Bowl sees Oklahoma take Clemson’s spot as the Big 12 was a bit better than they were in real life and the ACC is slightly worse with the loss of Pitt and Syracuse, who both made bowl games. They still play Big Ten runner up Ohio State. The championship game still goes to Florida State and Jameis Winston over Auburn after their pair of miracle wins over Georgia and Alabama to end the season, and beat South Carolina instead of Missouri in the SEC title game.

2014

The first College Football Playoff taking place after the 2014 season makes it relevant to point out that the Big East really would be thought of as the sixth of the six big conferences, clearly better than the small conferences but not quite at the very top of the FBS. 2014 was the year of Mississippi football, with Ole Miss and Mississippi State both ranking in the top 5 late in the year. They both still see a lot of success, but Bama still wins the SEC after taking down Georgia instead of Missouri in the SEC championship to be the #1 team in the first ever CFP.

2014 was also the year the Big Ten decided to go to 14 teams and expand with Rutgers for a New York market and Maryland for a DC market. The Big Ten was looking to secure more media deal funds and are able to make these moves that leave the ACC and Big East at 11 and 9 teams, respectively. The ACC adds Louisville to make up for the loss and add a school that has a good basketball team to replace Maryland, leaving the Big East searching for 2 more teams, which they find in Memphis and Houston of the Conference-USA. The CUSA then adds FIU and FAU from the Sun Belt to try to add the Florida market and stay as the best small conference.

The (still unchanged) Pac-12 saw 5 teams in the South division end 2014 ranked, but Oregon from the North was the best team in the conference, defeating Arizona in the Pac-12 title game to earn the #2 seed in the CFP. Florida State’s undefeated run through the relatively weak ACC even with the addition of Louisville earned them the third spot, which brings us to the contention over the 4th spot with a very different look than real life had it. In the real debate over who should get that spot, it was a competition between Ohio State and Big 12 co-champions Baylor and TCU (the Big 12 elected to name the two co-champions despite the fact that Baylor beat TCU in the regular season). In this version, TCU isn’t in the Big 12, they’re trying to prove that a team from the Big East that just had one of their best teams snatched away by the ACC still deserves a shot at the national title. Looking through the Big East that year, we find that Syracuse, UConn and USF were disappointing, while Pitt, newcomer Houston, Cincy and UCF weren’t good enough to really challenge TCU. This leaves fellow newcomer Memphis and West Virginia. TCU actually won on the road against West Virginia in 2014, so we’ll assume TCU was undefeated. But their best win would have been the game at WVU, a lesser schedule that the committee showed they would punish when they only put Florida State #3. The Big Ten, meanwhile, with Missouri instead of Nebraska, might be seen as slightly better than it was in real life, but with Wisconsin able to beat Mizzou they still play in and lose to Ohio State in the championship game. Baylor, who was #4 in the AP p2014 bowlsoll but not the playoff committee poll, had their only loss of the year be at West Virginia. Nebraska was a bit better than WVU according to SRS that year (or the fact that Nebraska went 9-4 while WVU went 7-6), so we’ll assume their loss is there instead. The Bears still collect wins at then-16th ranked Oklahoma and vs then-9th ranked Kansas State, and are sole champions of the Big 12 instead of being named co-champions with a team they beat. Unfortunately for Baylor, Ohio State’s schedule would have been seen as tougher, they have one more win playing in a conference championship game, and the debate comes down to OSU and TCU, with Ohio State ultimately winning the debate as they did in reality and they upset Alabama before topping Oregon for the first ever CFP championship.

The non-playoff New Years Six games would have been unchanged, with TCU still facing Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl, with the Horned Frogs dominating and making a claim that they should have been in the CFP. The Fiesta Bowl saw Boise State knock off a major conference team again when they beat Arizona, Georgia Tech took the option to the Orange Bowl and took down Mississippi State with it, and Michigan State pulled off the huge comeback to beat Baylor in the Cotton Bowl.

2015

The further along we go, the less likely it is that things play out similar to how they did in real life, as coaching changes, recruiting, and scheduling would all likely change, but we don’t have a good way of predicting how those would have changed, so heading into 2015 we’re just going to keep trying to plug the same teams that we had in real life in 2015 into their conferences and figure out how they all would do. A great example of a team that might have been great or might have struggled in a tougher conference is Houston. They went 13-1 under Tom Herman and represented the group of 5 by beating Florida State in the Peach bowl, beating Louisville (at Louisville), and ranked Navy, Memphis and Temple teams, but also losing to UConn, who finished the season 5-7. UConn would still be in their conference, and we’re assuming common opponents play their games the same way they did in real life, and we2015 bowls assume Houston would likely lose in a budding rivalry to TCU who went 11-2 in 2015, which then leads to the question who (if anyone) would beat TCU in the Big East? TCU’s losses in 2015 were on the road against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, two very good teams and both being on the road. If they beat Houston, the best teams left are Pitt, West Virginia, and South Florida. TCU beat WVU at home that year, so we’ll assume they lost at Pitt. That would be enough to keep them behind Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State and Oklahoma, so once again the playoff remains unchanged as Bama beats Clemson for the National Championship. The other New Years Six bowl games do see some changes though, as Houston can’t be the highest ranked small conference team if they’re in a major conference. The Peach Bowl sees Navy as CUSA champs face Houston, the Fiesta Bowl still sees Ohio State and Notre Dame, the Rose Bowl stays Stanford vs Iowa, but the Sugar Bowl ends up as Florida State against TCU instead of Ole Miss and Oklahoma State.

2016

2016 brings another playoff without different teams, but with different seedings. With Missouri in Nebraska’s place in the Big Ten, Ohio State loses a good looking win in their demolishing of Nebraska, trading that in for a win over a worse Mizzou squad, which causes them to be the #4 team instead of #2, as they also get a bit of a punishment for not winning their conference. This results in closer semifinal games, with Alabama beating Ohio State and Clemson beating Washington, but these would have likely resulted in closer contests than 24-7 and 31-0 that we saw in the actual semifinals that year. Clemson still gets their revenge on Bama and gets a National Championship with Deshaun Watson. They lost to North Carolina instead of Pitt in the regular season as Pitt isn’t in the ACC and Pitt and UNC had similar seasons in 2016. The Big East would have seen a bit of a dip at the top of the conference this year with both of their elite teams from 2016 bowlsTexas a year ago taking a step back. Houston remains in the second tier in the conference just behind West Virginia and USF who take the top two spots this year while TCU falls a bit further down. Both WVU and USF went 10-2 before USF won and WVU lost their bowl games, WVU ended ranked 18 while USF was 19, so the conference champion likely comes down to who was at home for their matchup. In an even year, USF will be the home team for their matchup, so we’ll say USF edges out WVU at home, wins the Big East, and is the conference’s lone representative in an NY6 game. The Big Ten still manages to send 4 teams to NY6 bowls, with Michigan playing Florida State still in the Orange Bowl, an unchanged Cotton Bowl sees Wisconsin face undefeated Western Michigan, and USC faces off with Big Ten champ Penn State in the Rose Bowl along with Ohio State in the playoff. USF and Oklahoma make up the Sugar Bowl matchup to wrap up the New Years 6.

2017

2017 brings the rise of UCF to National prominence, this time in the Big East where an undefeated record is more likely to earn a spot in the Playoff than the AAC. The question is whether or not UCF could have gone undefeated with a tougher schedule. TCU was back to their winning ways in 2017, going 11-3 and finishing the year ranked in the top ten in real life, and Memphis and USF, who UCF actually played, were both ranked as well in 2017. 2017 also saw the NCAA allow conferences with less than 12 teams to play conference championship games, which the Big 12 immediately did and we’ll have the Big East do so as well with the same setup, no divisions just the top two teams at the end of conference play playing for the title. The fight for the #2 spot in the Big East ends up being a wild one, with TCU, USF, and Memphis all going 1-1 against each other with the home team winning every game, but TCU ends with the best point differential in the games and earns the right to play UCF on a neutral field in Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Bengals, where Scott Frost and the Knights come away with their second win over TCU (just like Oklahoma did in real life) to finish the year undefeated and head to the playoff as the #2 team behind also undefeated Clemson (whose loss to Syracuse feels so random that if they didn’t play the Orange they may have gone undefeated). Georgia stays at #3 after winning the SEC title over Auburn, avenging their only loss, which leaves Oklahoma out of a weaker Big 12 and SEC runner up Alabama fighting for the fourth spot. The committee would likely favor the Sooners with their out of conference win at Ohio State still looking very impressive while Alabama’s defeat of Florida State looks much weaker after the Seminoles went 6-6, and reward the Sooners for winning their 2017 bowlsconference. This leaves us with a playoff of Clemson, UCF, Georgia, and Oklahoma, and sorry UCF, but Georgia was 1) better than the SEC team you beat in a bowl game in real life LSU, and 2) cared more than LSU, so they win a likely still high scoring and thrilling Rose Bowl. Then we have a matchup of Oklahoma’s first in the nation offense (according to SRS) and Clemson’s #2 defense (behind Bama, says SRS) in the Sugar Bowl. Oklahoma likely struggles to contain Clemson’s running game that Bama had less trouble with, setting up a Clemson-Georgia national championship. A matchup featuring two teams with stifling defenses ends with Georgia taking the title.

The rest of the 2017 New Years Six saw Big Ten champ Ohio State play Pac-12 champ USC in the Cotton Bowl, Penn State and Auburn face off in the Fiesta Bowl, Wisconsin and Alabama in a battle of one-loss teams in the Orange Bowl, and Miami facing off with Boise State representing the group of 5 in the Peach Bowl.

2018

By this point, we have to wonder if some coaching changes that happened in real life sending Tom Herman and Scott Frost to power 5 teams would happen if Houston and UCF were in the Big East and had better national title hopes. It’s complicated because Herman was a GA at Texas and earned a masters degree there, while Frost played at Nebraska and is from the area, so they may have both wanted to coach at those schools due to their ties to the universities. They may have not needed to move schools to advance in their careers, however, and may have elected to stay at the school that got them into the national spotlight. We’ll assume they both made the move, as that’s a lot easier than trying to project how the schools involved would have fared with different coaches.

2018 would have likely been the best year yet for the Big East. UCF continued to be great when no one thought they could go undefeated again. West Virginia ranked inside the top 10 at multiple points in the season. Syracuse went from 4-8 in 2017 to 10-3, going 10-1 against teams that didn’t go to the playoff, their first 10-win season since 2001. Cincinnati won 11 games in Luke Fickell’s second season and look ready to contend for AAC titles. Houston and South Florida were both 7-1 after the Cougars beat the Bulls on October 27th. That’s six teams, more than half the conference, that looked really good at some point in the season. That’s a conference that would have been better than the ACC or Pac-12 this year. It’s probably also a conference that, much like the Big Ten, wouldn’t send a team to the playoff with their top teams not able to make it out of conference play unscathed. UCF didn’t play WVU, Syracuse or Houston. They would have gotten Syracuse and Houston at home, likely winning both. I don’t think they would have survived their trip to Morgantown. Cuse’s one loss to a non-playoff team was Pitt, and going on the road for Houston, West Virginia, and UCF is a recipe for disaster. West Virginia may have had the easiest schedule other than a trip to Cincinnati that would be a tough one, and they lost badly to Syracuse in their bowl game, but that was without some NFL-bound players 2018 bowlsplaying. We’ll say UCF wins the conference, but they won’t get in the playoff over Oklahoma or Ohio State.

The playoff stays the same, with Bama and Clemson beating Oklahoma and Notre Dame, respectively, and then Clemson beating Bama for the championship. Other New Years Six bowls see some changes though, as 4-loss Texas doesn’t get to play in the Sugar Bowl, instead we have Georgia taking on UCF in a battle of teams who just missed the playoff. The Rose Bowl still sees it’s first Big Ten Champ vs Pac-12 Champ matchup since the playoff started in Ohio State and Washington, and Fresno State, representing the group of 5 from the very strong Mountain West, takes on West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl. Florida still avenges the 2015 Citrus Bowl by beating Michigan in the Peach Bowl in the game before the playoff semifinals.

 

When Big East football stays on the map, we end up disrupting one of the playoffs, and avoid having an all-SEC national championship game because of it. We completely change the landscape of college football, as there would be a lot of excitement around this Big East heading into 2019 to see if West Virginia can stay strong after losing their head coach and quarterback, to see if UCF can stay on top of rising teams in Cincinnati and Syracuse, among others in the conference hoping to see them stumble. It would be more likely that we’d have more people pushing for playoff expansion with a sixth conference that looks like it can compete at the same level as the rest of the current power 5. The expansion and realignment cycle added two teams to major conferences in Utah and TCU, but it also bumped down UConn, Cincinnati, and South Florida, as well as Louisville and Rutgers for a year before they both found new homes. Yes, none of the teams that got more permanently bumped down had been in a power conference before 2000, but they all had enough success to warrant staying at that level, as even UConn had a run of 4 consecutive seasons of at least 8 wins from 2007-2010, just before the Big East fell apart. South Florida had 5 such seasons from 2006-2010, while Cincinnati won at least 10 games 5 times between 2007 and 2012, with just one down year in the midst of a coaching change. But alas, the Big East turned down a media deal offer after the Pac-12 got more, leading TCU to back out of their agreement and go instead to the Big 12, with West Virginia joining them, and the Big East dissolved shortly thereafter. We are left to wonder what could have been, and how different the college football landscape could have been. Of course, if the Big East had survived the brink of extinction we would have wondered how things would look if they hadn’t, which we get to know from it playing out in real life. I look forward to doing more what-ifs like this in the future with various different changes to the FBS landscape. Until next time,

CM

Stats and info courtesy of college-football referenceESPN, and CBS Sports.

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