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Thursday, September 22, 2011
A radical path to conference realignment

By DJ Gallo
Page 2

Oregon Duck
Perhaps the Ducks belong in a conference where they can flock together with birds of a feather.

Pitt and Syracuse are nowhere near the Atlantic Coast. TCU is not in the East. Texas A&M isn't in the Southeast. Colorado and Utah aren't near the Pacific Coast. The Big Ten has 12 teams, and the Big 12 has 10 (soon to be nine). If the names of college conferences no longer mean anything, why should we keep the current conference structures in place?

Other ways to organize college teams would make far more sense than what we have today.

Here are a few rough ideas that would return sanity to NCAA conferences.

Organization by Mascots

Large Cat Conference: LSU Tigers, Clemson Tigers, Auburn Tigers, Missouri Tigers, Pitt Panthers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Northwestern Wildcats, BYU Cougars, Cincinnati Bearcats, Houston Cougars, Kansas State Wildcats, Washington State Cougars, Arizona Wildcats, Kentucky Wildcats.

People With Weapons Conference: Oklahoma State Cowboys, West Virginia Mountaineers, Florida State Seminoles, Illinois Fighting Illini, USC Trojans, Duke Blue Devils, Virginia Cavaliers, Vanderbilt Commodores, Wyoming Cowboys, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Arizona State Sun Devils, Michigan State Spartans, Ole Miss Rebels.

Dog/Bear Conference: Connecticut Huskies, UCLA Bruins, Georgia Bulldogs, NC State Wolfpack, Washington Huskies, Cal Bears, Baylor Bears, Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Things With Wings Conference: Oregon Ducks, Boston College Eagles, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Virginia Tech Hokies, Kansas Jayhawks, Louisville Cardinals, Iowa Hawkeyes, Temple Owls.

Animals With Large Teeth or Horns: Florida Gators, TCU Horned Frogs, Texas Longhorns, South Florida Bulls, Colorado Buffaloes, Oregon State Beavers, Michigan Wolverines, Arkansas Razorbacks, Wisconsin Badgers, Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Miscellaneous Conference: Stanford Cardinal, Alabama Crimson Tide, Miami Hurricanes, Iowa State Cyclones, North Carolina Tar Heels, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Oklahoma Sooners, Syracuse Orange, Ohio State Buckeyes, Indiana Hoosiers, Utah Utes.

Comment: Six power conferences, all with between eight and 14 teams, all with wide geographical distribution and large TV markets. This makes more sense than what we have now.

Organization by School Name

Land-Grant Universities A to J Conference: Arizona, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Colorado State, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa State.

Land-Grant Universities K to N Conference: Kansas State, Kentucky, LSU, Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, NC State.

Land-Grant Universities O to Z Conference: Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, Washington State, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

Schools in or Near Major Cities Conference: Pitt, UCLA, USC, Miami, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Texas, Cal, Washington.

Private Schools Conference: Duke, Stanford, Notre Dame, Boston College, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, BYU, Northwestern, Syracuse.

Comment: This five-conference alignment splits up the urban schools, rural schools and private institutions. Best of all, it allows everyone who went to state schools to focus their hatred on one specific conference.

Organization by Shoe/Apparel Supplier

Adidas Conference: Cincinnati, Indiana, Kansas, Louisville, Michigan, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame, UCLA, Wisconsin.

Under Armour Conference: Auburn, Boston College, Maryland, South Carolina, South Florida, Temple, Texas Tech, Utah.

Nike Conference: Pretty much all the other schools.

Comment: If the current conference realignments are all about money, this is where it's all eventually going. You know it; I know it. Let's just get it over with now.


Game of the Week

No. 2 LSU at No. 16 West Virginia, 8 p.m. ET on ABC

West Virginia was turned down this week by both the SEC and ACC, according to a CBS Sports report. It's presumed the SEC felt that the Mountaineers weren't good enough athletically, while the ACC didn't believe that the school's academics were up to snuff. Ouch. To secure the future of its program, West Virginia needs to win this game by 50 AND spend the entire halftime out on the field reciting Yeats.


Another Game of the Week

No. 7 Oklahoma State at No. 8 Texas A&M, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC

This Saturday begins a 10-game stretch for the Aggies in which they play nine Big 12 teams. That's a brutal nonconference schedule.


Cupcake of the Week

Florida Atlantic

Florida Atlantic has lost its first two games of the season by a combined score of 85-3, and now the Owls head to Auburn to play the defending national champions Saturday (7 p.m. ET on The Owls have just 133 passing yards on the season. That sounds bad, but their rushing game is worse: On 50 carries, FAU has 52 total rushing yards -- a 1.04 yards per carry average. On the positive side, the Owls have only one turnover so far this season. So they do a good job of protecting the ball on their three-and-outs. Actual owls, if you're reading, sleep extra-late on Saturday. You don't want to see this game.


Rivalry Game of the Week

No. 14 Arkansas at No. 3 Alabama, 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS

Some people claim there is no loyalty left in college football. But if you want to find some men who keep their word, Bobby Petrino and Nick Saban have been at their respective schools a combined nine seasons. Wow! No one ever could have predicted that. Really.


Another Rivalry Game of the Week

No. 11 Florida State at No. 21 Clemson, 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

"Dabo? Jimbo. Jimbo? Dabo." As a connoisseur of ridiculous coach names, it is one of the great regrets of my life that I was not present when Dabo Swinney and Jimbo Fisher were introduced.


Heisman Candidate in the Crosshairs

Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State

Andrew Luck and Stanford have the week off, so there's a chance for another candidate to have the stage. San Diego State sophomore Ronnie Hillman has 497 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns through three games this season. On Saturday, the 3-0 Aztecs play at No. 22 Michigan (noon ET on Big Ten Network), coached by Brady Hoke -- who, you may recall, was SDSU's coach last year and recruited Hillman. Now Hoke's defense has to find a way to stop him. Whoops! Let this be a lesson to coaches: Don't recruit good players because they could beat you at a future job.


Mascot Fact of the Week

With Syracuse moving to the ACC, perhaps the Orange's new conference mates would like to learn about Otto the Orange, also commonly referred to as: "What is that stupid thing? Their mascot? Seriously?" and "The lamest mascot in all the land."

The school's first mascot was a goat. Vita the Goat. Then it went with The Saltine Warrior -- an Indian chief -- until 1978, when the school decided that a stereotype as a mascot might not be the way to go. Then came a gladiator covered in orange armor who was "soon both laughed and booed off the field," according to the school's website.

What followed was a series of proposals, ideas and temporary replacements for a new mascot, including: