SI's Realignment Proposal Would Bring Back UT-A&M Rivalry

Chris Dukes

As current TV deals inch closer to their expiration date, most inside college football believe there's another round of realignment on the way akin to the one that happened around a decade ago. 

There will likely be conferences cannibalizing each other, poaching teams and opportunistic programs looking for fancy new digs and rivalries. 

The Texas Longhorns and the rest of the Big 12 have been no stranger to seismic shifts in conference rosters in recent years. The Longhorns said goodbye to rival Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado and most importantly rival Texas A&M and swapped in West Virginia and TCU as permanent conference opponents in the most recent change. And many older Longhorn fans can remember a time when the Longhorns' entire conference was made up of teams from within the borders of the Lone Star State. 

Forde's proposal - which you can read in its entirety here - aims to make the most economic and competitive sense out of the current college football roster. Here's the conference-by-conference breakdown. It's important to remember this is strictly a thought exercise for entertainment purposes only. 

Realignment

There's a lot for Texas fans to like about Pat Forde's conference realignment proposal. 

Here's some of the rules Forde is proposing for the new landscape. 

  • "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 non-conference game (no FCS opponents). The non-conference 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.

First things first, old-school Texas fans are going to dig the name of Texas' new league. What's old is new again and for many people the name Southwest Conference conjures up warm memories of Saturday mornings gone by with family. With tear-away jerseys, blocky shoulder pads and old astroturf fields that held so much water when it rained they turned into slip-and-slides.

 The roster of opponents is also full of memories. Texas would have standing games every year with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Houston, SMU, North Texas, Rice, TCU, Texas Tech and most importantly the return of Texas A&M. 

In addition each team has one locked-in rival opponent. For Texas it would mean an every-year showdown with Arkansas, Texas A&M would get Mississippi STate, Oklahoma would get Nebraska, TCU would get Kansas State, Oklahoma State would get Iowa State, Baylor gets Louisiana Tech, Texas Tech gets Louisiana-Lafayette, Houston gets East Carolina, SMU has Temple, Rice has Tulane, Tulsa has Arkansas State and North Texas has Southern Miss. 

Some of these (notibly Texas-Arkansas and Oklahoma-Nebraska) are rooted in obvious history while others seem to be put together almost at random (I wasn't aware of the storied Baylor-Louisiana Tech rivalry before). Still, it could be a lot of fun for Texas fans to root against old Southwest Conference rival Arkansas every single year. 

The winner would get an automatic bid to the CFP, which is now expanded to 12 teams. There would also be two at-large bids out there, but with 10 conferences full of heavyweights, not winning your conference would create a nerve-racking scenario of waiting for 

Anyway, this is really just discussion topic fodder for all us college football junkies anxiously awaiting the start of the season. Please feel free to jump in and join in the robust debate yourselves in the comments section. 

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