21 May 2012
“The essence of mathematics is not to make simple things complicated, but to make complicated things simple.” ~Stan Gudder
"Party rock is in the house tonight / Everybody just have a good time
Every day I’m Shuffling, shuffling, shuffling"
~LMFAO, "Party Rock Anthem”
In this blog entry, I aim to go all Ted Kaczynski on your butts and lay out my CFB manifesto.
Ok, but first you’re probably asking: what does LMFAO and arithmetic have to do with college football or any talk of Super Conferences?
Everything, my friends…everything. As scientist Dr. Dean Schlicter said: “Go down deep enough into anything and you will find mathematics.”
Sixteen is divisional by four. 4 x 4 = 16. And 16? Well it’s a magic number.
But first a little recent history: The SEC and Big 12 recently announced an agreement to have their champions play in the post-season. This game - to be called the “Champions Bowl” - is the SEC-Big 12 version of the Rose Bowl. This move effectively creates four “power conferences” with SEC, Big 12, Pac 12 and Big 10 as the major conference.
The ACC and Big East on outside looking in. C-USA, MWC and the WAC? Effectively relegated to content fodder for Super Conference OOC games.
The tilt toward Super Conferences also means that Notre Dame – sans conference affiliation – stands a chance of beating “shut out” of the football hierarchy if they don’t act, thus greatly increasing the chances that the Figthing Irish will (finally!) be forced to join a conference.
So could this simple cooperative announcement between the SEC and the Big 12 be the trigger that finally results in the formation of four 16-team Super Conferences? Will teams begin the scramble to join? Will conferences feel the pressure to act quickly to try to get the "best teams" available?Keeping the magic 16 in mind, let’s look where we are right now.
Big 12 with 10 teams; needs six to get to 16
Pac 12 with 12 teams; needs four to get to 16
Big 10 with 12 teams: needs four to get to 16
SEC with 14 teams; needs two to get to 16
That’s 48 teams in four power conferences right now. We need 16 more teams to get to each conference up to 16 teams each. Why is 16 the magic number? I have one word for you: Pods.
Pods are the wave of the future. Not sprockets: Pods. The pod concept will allow each conference to break into four mini conferences consisting of four teams each within each Super Conference. Four pods in four conferences = 16 total pods. Hmmm. Why does that 16 number look so interesting? Can you say “Football Sweet 16,” boys and girls?
Ok, let’s get serious. I wish life were not about money, but it is. Do not buy into the esoteric arguments of the academic elitists out there. None of the alignment that will take place from this point forward is about good old State U., rah rah sis boom bah, or research dollars. It’s about $MONEY$. When it comes down to it, we are all just bean counters. Trying to make ends meet, you’re a slave to money then you die ( I know, more song lyrics).
The Four-Team BCS Playoff that will come into being this summer is simply the first step towards a colossal grand conclusion. In the near future, the Super Conferences will each have four pod divisional winners left standing at the end of the regular season. As part of a national CFB playoff, the pod winners of each conference will participate in a 16-team National CFB Playoff.
At this point, it remains to be seen how this will transpire. Will the pod winner remain “in conference” until just one team from each conference is left? Or will each of the 16 pod winners be seeded and then play each other regardless of conference? Where will these games be played? How will the seeding be determined? How will the money be distributed? There are tons and tons of logistics to be worked out; the point is that any casual college football fan can see that the seismic shifts and conference alliances we are seeing now are pointing us towards one logical conclusion: Super Conferences and expanded CFB Playoffs.
So What Now?
“We're on a road to nowhere / come on inside / Takin' that ride to nowhere / we'll take that ride.” ~Talking Heads, "Road to Nowhere"
So how do we get from where we are to where we are going? With 48 teams in the four conferences, there is room for 16 more (64 minus 48 = 16 teams). By my count there are 22 teams at play for those 16 coveted spots. That includes the entire 14-team ACC, Notre Dame, Boise State, BYU, Louisville, Rutgers, UConn, South Florida and Cincinnati.
So six teams are going to be left behind. But which six? Aside from BYU, Boise and Notre Dame, the entire stable of available teams resides in the eastern United States. Therein lies the problem with Super Conferences. The western most Super Conference – the Pac 12 – doesn’t have enough viable expansion candidates. It needs four. Where do the four teams come from? Notre Dame has its choice of conferences. What if it doesn’t want to join the Pac 12? No source has suggested the Fighting Irish are even interested in the Pac 12. That means there are really only two “western” teams (BYU and Boise) available for four spots. And you’ll see later, I don’t even think Boise is in play.
That’s where the shuffling (and LMFAO) comes in. There are going to be expansions, alignments, and realignments. Somewhere, somehow, teams are going to have to move within the Super Conferences. I think the seed for that sort of cooperation was set in motion with the previously discussed Champions Bowl agreement between the SEC and the Big 12.
Here you have two conferences that should not get along. The SEC basically just poached TxA&M and Missouri from the Big 12, for heaven’s sake. Why would they suddenly shake hands and make up? Because, my naive friends, there is something far bigger at play. For this whole Super Conference thing to work, either the Big 12 or the Big 10 will have to shuffle teams to the Pac 12.
Who will it be? That’s the million dollar question. I can’t see a big name team or conference anchor like Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan or Ohio State being shifted west. I can, however, see someone like Kansas, Kansas State, Northwestern, Indiana, or Illinois be “shuffled.” It’s also within the realm of possibility that a team like Arkansas, with its old Southwest Conference history, could conceivably end up back in the Big 12 to join old friends Texas and Oklahoma.
So who gets the 16 spots and which six get left behind? Again, this is just my opinion, but I think when all is said and done, these are your lottery winners: Notre Dame, Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Duke, North Carolina, NC State, Maryland, Miami, BYU, Louisville, Rutgers, Pitt and Syracuse will make the cut.
That means Boston College, Wake Forest, USF, Cincinnati, Boise, and Connecticut get left out. Not to mention your middle of the roaders like UCF, Memphis, ECU, SMU, etc. Of all the teams, I find it really hard to leave Boise and BC on the outside. One could argue that either of those teams should get in over BYU, Duke or Miami. My argument would be that BYU and Miami have both won national championships in football, and Duke just has too much clout in college athletics overall (as well as academics) to be left out.
There’s also a chance as this unstoppable machine churns onward, that a private school like Vanderbilt, Miami, or Baylor may decide that big time athletics are too much, and choose to bow out voluntarily. In which case a spot would be opened up.
Besides BC and Boise, the real losers in the end will be Wake Forest and the Big East leftovers USF, Cincinnati and UConn. Just not enough football relevance to be included with the big boys.
There are some calls like Va Tech to the SEC or FSU to the Big 12 that we could probably call fairly accurately right now. But by the time the dust settles, I think we will see some major mind blowers take place. So who goes where, and who might get shuffled (realigned)?
That’s a question better left to the mathematicians.
“The man ignorant of mathematics will be increasingly limited in his grasp of the main forces of civilization.” ~John Kemeny
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