FSU's New Conference in SI's America, Realigned Project

David Visser

Conference realignment is beyond tricky. You have to consider history, money, tradition, money, geography, and money. And then there are the financial considerations. 

But what if you didn't have to worry about any of that? What if we blew up the P5/G5 distinction, and recast the FBS into 10 12-team conferences, aiming strictly for geographic proximity and relative equality across the conferences? 

Our Pat Forde recently took on exactly that endeavor. Each team's season would consist of 12 games: 11 against the other programs in their conference, along with one crossover game, included in the parenthetical. Check it out, along with some thoughts below, and let us know what you think about the idea and the Seminoles' new home in the Deep South Conference.

PAC-12 CONFERENCE

Stanford (Northwestern)
USC (Notre Dame)
Washington (Utah)
Cal (BYU)
UCLA (Arizona)
Oregon (Boise State)
Washington State (Wyoming)
San Diego State (New Mexico)
Oregon State (Arizona State)
Hawaii (Army)
Fresno State (Utah State)
Nevada (UNLV)

ROCKY MOUNTAIN CONFERENCE
Arizona State (Oregon State)
BYU (Cal)
Utah (Washington)
Air Force (Navy)
Colorado (Kansas)
Arizona (UCLA)
Boise State (Oregon)
Colorado State (North Dakota State)
New Mexico (San Diego State)
Utah State (Fresno State)
Wyoming (Washington State)
UNLV (Nevada)

GREAT MIDWEST CONFERENCE
Wisconsin (Michigan State)
Minnesota (Michigan)
Iowa (Purdue)
Iowa State (Oklahoma State)
Nebraska (Oklahoma)
Missouri (Illinois)
Kansas State (TCU)
North Dakota State (Colorado State)
Kansas (Colorado)
Western Michigan (Toledo)
Central Michigan (N. Illinois)
Eastern Michigan (Ball State)

GREAT MIDEAST CONFERENCE
Michigan (Minnesota)
Ohio State (Penn State)
Michigan State (Wisconsin)
Indiana (Kentucky)
Purdue (Iowa)
Cincinnati (Louisville)
Miami (Ohio) (Western Kentucky)
Ohio (Marshall)
Toledo (Western Michigan)
Akron (Middle Tennessee)
Kent State (Buffalo)
Ball State (E. Michigan)

MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE
Notre Dame (USC)
Northwestern (Stanford)
Tennessee (Alabama)
Kentucky (Indiana)
Vanderbilt (Mississippi)
Louisville (Cincinnati)
Illinois (Missouri)
West Virginia (Pittsburgh)
Western Kentucky (Miami Ohio)
Middle Tennessee (Akron)
Marshall (Ohio)
Northern Illinois (C. Michigan)

SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE
Texas (Arkansas)
Texas A&M (Mississippi State)
Oklahoma (Nebraska)
TCU (Kansas State)
Oklahoma State (Iowa State)
Baylor (Louisiana Tech)
Texas Tech (Louisiana-Lafayette)
Houston (East Carolina)
SMU (Temple)
Rice (Tulane)
Tulsa (Arkansas State)
North Texas (Southern Miss)

MID-ATLANTIC CONFERENCE
North Carolina (Georgia Tech)
Duke (Rutgers)
Virginia (Maryland)
Wake Forest (Boston College)
Clemson (Florida State)
North Carolina State (Syracuse)
Virginia Tech (Miami)
South Carolina (South Florida)
Appalachian State (Georgia Southern)
East Carolina (Houston)
Old Dominion (FIU)
Charlotte (UAB)

DEEP SOUTH CONFERENCE
Florida (LSU)
Georgia (Auburn)
Florida State (Clemson)
Miami (Virginia Tech)
Georgia Tech (North Carolina)
UCF (Memphis)
South Florida (South Carolina)
Georgia Southern (App State)
UAB (Charlotte)
FIU (Old Dominion)
Georgia State (UConn)
FAU (UMass)

SUN BELT CONFERENCE
LSU (Florida)
Auburn (Georgia)
Alabama (Tennessee)
Mississippi State (Texas A&M)
Arkansas (Texas)
Mississippi (Vanderbilt)
Tulane (Rice)
Memphis (UCF)
Arkansas State (Tulsa)
Louisiana Tech (Baylor)
Southern Miss (North Texas)
Louisiana-Lafayette (Texas Tech)

YANKEE CONFERENCE
Penn State (Ohio State)
Navy (Air Force)
Syracuse (NC State)
Boston College (Wake Forest)
Maryland (Virginia)
Pittsburgh (WVU)
Army (Hawaii)
Temple (SMU)
Rutgers (Duke)
Buffalo (Kent State)
Connecticut (Georgia State)
Massachusetts (FAU)

RELEGATED
San Jose State
New Mexico State
UTEP
UTSA
Texas State
Louisiana-Monroe
Troy
Bowling Green
Coastal Carolina
South Alabama
Liberty

MOVED UP
North Dakota State

Okay, some remarks on this whole hypothetical. Let's start with what I see as the negatives. First, it's quite boring to play the same 12 teams every year. Sure, you could change up the lone non-conference game, but it's still just one game. Plus, as is done now, some teams would go looking for challenges, while others would pursue cupcakes and easy wins, which defeats the whole aim of equality at the heart of this experiment. Also, while dismantling the P5/G5 hierarchy seems equalitarian, is it really fair for the smaller programs? Right now, they have legitimate chances to win their conferences. But if this model were a reality, when would Rice and North Texas ever stand a chance in the Southwest against the likes of Texas and Oklahoma? Realignment doesn't erase the reality of haves vs. have-nots. 

Oh and congrats to Clemson and Penn State, which would handily win their conferences every season for the foreseeable future. 

But there's plenty to like here, too. To begin: road trips! The Seminoles' conference features seven Florida teams, four from Georgia, and UAB. Forget roadies to Syracuse and Boston College-- and not just because they're far away and not really drivable. That's not really FSU's recruiting ground, whereas more games in the Sunshine and Peach States would help the 'Noles play in front of more local prospects. Getting Georgia on the schedule, which has taken nearly an act of Congress, is fun as well, as is Clemson remaining as Florida State's crossover opponent (even if those two games are essentially guaranteed losses, presently). This realignment would also mean that UF couldn't keep consistently ducking Miami, and the fact that the big three Florida teams don't all play each other every year, in the nation's most talent-rich state, is a travesty. It would also be fun to see how UCF performed when it had to play its way to a national title and not just claim it. 

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