Sports Illustrated's 'America, Realigned': Where Does Georgia Tech Fall?
This month marks a decade that college football last saw a major shake up in conference realignments that wouldn't subside until 2014. With the COVID-19 pandemic at hand, Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde reimagined his own conferences within the Football Bowl Subdivision. As one could coin it now, as SI did, he created the "Forde Bowl Subdivision."
The radical realignment highlights:
- A 120-school ecosystem, with 11 current FBS members relegated to FCS and one elevated from that level. Congratulations to North Dakota State; condolences to UTEP, Texas State, UTSA, South Alabama, Louisiana-Monroe, Bowling Green, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Coastal Carolina, Troy and Liberty. (Relegation/elevation can be revisited every three seasons.)
- Ten leagues, each with 12 members, each designed to maximize proximity and reduce travel demands and costs. All current conference structures are broken and reassembled. There are no more than eight Power 5 programs in a single new conference, and no fewer than four. And there are no independents—yes, Notre Dame is in a conference.
- In football, each school will play a full round-robin schedule plus one nonconference game (no FCS opponents). The nonconference opponent will be locked in for a minimum of four seasons before there is an opt-out to schedule someone different. There will be no conference championship games.
- All 10 conference champions, plus two at-large teams chosen by a selection committee, advance to the expanded College Football Playoff. The teams are seeded by the committee. The top four receive a first-round bye, while seeds 5–8 host seeds 9–12 at their home stadiums the first weekend of December. Quarterfinals are played the next week at the home stadiums of seeds 1–4. The semifinals and championship game are conducted under the current CFP format.
- There still will be bowl games for the teams that don’t make the CFP. Just fewer of them, which nobody should mind.
- The conferences will work for basketball and other sports as well—in fact, it will be better for nonrevenue sports in terms of travel cost savings. The 230-odd non-FBS programs that are part of NCAA Division I will remain aligned pretty much where they already are, with a few exceptions.
Under Forde's elaborate plan, Georgia Tech falls under the "Deep South" Conference which consists of the following teams (non-conference opponents in parenthesis):
- UCF (Memphis)
- FAU (UMass)
- FIU (Old Dominion)
- Florida (LSU)
- Florida State (Clemson)
- Georgia (Auburn)
- Georgia Southern (Appalachian State)
- Georgia State (UConn)
- Georgia Tech (North Carolina)
- Miami (Virginia Tech)
- USF (South Carolina)
- UAB (Charlotte)
The theoretical schedule would consist of the Yellow Jackets playing the other 11 teams from the Deep South as well as a yearly non-conference game with North Carolina - an already familiar foe for Tech. The Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate rivalry between Georgia and Georgia Tech would remain alive.
Figuratively speaking, the Jackets would have a better shot at the College Football Playoffs under this newly renovated schedule. Florida and Georgia would be Tech's biggest tests for years to come, as Miami and Florida State shuffle through regaining dominance. The Seminoles would take the Jackets' spot at facing Clemson year to year - a big sigh of relief. Geographically, it's also a better traveling schedule, as the farthest opponent Georgia Tech would face is Miami.
Although this alignment would never really happen, it's fun to imagine.
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