What True Realignment Would Look Like for Louisville Football
The conference realignments of the early 2010's was one of the most odd periods of time in all of collegiate athletics, and not many programs are as aware of this fact as Louisville is.
After all, the Cardinals were members of three different conferences over a three year period.
The 2012-13 academic year was Louisville's final season in the old Big East Conference before the remaining members formed the American Athletic Conference in 2013-14, with the Cardinals making the jump to the Atlantic Coast Conference starting with the 2014-15 season where they have been ever since.
Even with all of the nationwide realignment efforts, there's still a very clear and obvious conference dominance with the Power Five holding a discernible advantage over the Group of Five.
But what if the Football Bowl Subdivision was balanced?
That's exactly what Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde attempted to do with his "America, Realigned" project. In it, he formed 10 new conferences of 12 teams each, with the goal of making them as equal as possible and geographically inclined. Of course with there being 130 FBS members, some programs had to be relegated to the FCS level.
So where does Louisville land in this hypothetical realignment challenge? Forde stuck them in what he calls the "Mid-American Conference", and it has a few notable and familiar names. Non-conference opponents appear in parenthesis:
- 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)
Even though the bottom three teams aren't quite as competitive as the other seven, it's an overall fairly balanced conference. Even with the presence of two college football blue bloods in Notre Dame & Tennessee, Louisville would easily be in the top half of this conference year in and year out.
As far as rivals go Louisville has plenty to choose from, as Forde has chosen to include not only the Kentucky Wildcats, but the rivalry with West Virginia from the Big East days gets renewed as well. The Cardinals also see a welcome return of The Keg of Nails, with the Cincinnati Bearcats being listed as Lousiville's non-conference opponent.
If this schedule were to be played in 2020, Louisville has a solid shot to improve under Year Two of head coach Scott Satterfield. Right off the bat; Middle Tennessee, Marshall, Western Kentucky, Northern Illinois, Northwestern & Vanderbilt should more often than not wind up with the Cardinals in the win column. Illinois, Tennessee & West Virginia could be trap games depending on where the contests are played, so we'll have Louisville going 2-1 in this stretch. With this schedule featuring two in-real life games against Notre Dame & Kentucky being played, we'll factor in location here. I can see Louisville losing at Notre Dame but redeeming themselves with a home win against the Wildcats to bring their 2020 record to 10-2.
You can follow us for future coverage by clicking "Follow" on the top righthand corner of the page. Also be sure to like us on Facebook & Twitter:
Facebook - @LouisvilleOnSI