What if College Football Conferences Realigned Again?
It might seem like sacrilege to even mention to college football fans that the Southeastern Conference as we currently know it would cease to exist, but that's precisely what has happened in a new and different look at conference realignment in 2020.
Pat Forde, of Sports Illustrated this week, took a deep dive into conference realignment in a hypothetical look at what the world of conferences might look like in a significant reworking of all Division-I schools.
In doing this project, Forde wrote this on realignment.
"A decade later, it’s time to blow up what was done and start over. The COVID-19 pandemic’s effects have been profoundly felt in a realm where, for 10 years, money was no object and the map made no sense. Slapped in the face by a new fiscal reality, maybe we’re due to both rein in and reach out—to contract geographically into more regional conferences, while expanding the scope of the revenue gusher that is the College Football Playoff."
While the current SEC lineup as we know it would no longer remain, some of the teams would find themselves still together in new homes and keeping an old rival on their schedule just for good measure.
Where would the Vanderbilt Commodores land in Forde's renovated conference plan?
The Mid-American Conference.
Vanderbilt, a charter member of the former Southeastern Conference no call the new Mid-American home and take with them fellow SEC brethren Kentucky and Tennessee.
According to the new plan, the Commodores would be joined by former ACC teams, Louisville, West Virginia, and part-timers Notre Dame. At the same time, Northwestern and Indiana from the Big-10 would round out the current Power Five member in the new home.
Marshal, Middle Tennessee, Northern Illinois, and Western Kentucky would round out the conference, giving the states of Kentucky and Tennessee three schools in the new-look league.
One thing is sure, travel among member schools in this new format would be significantly decreased, with busing being the primary method of transportation for the Commodores with five of their eleven opponents within driving distance of Nashville.
What about the rest of the current SEC lineup?
Missouri and South Carolina would be the only current members who would make a new home without another team from the league joining them in the Great Midwest league. South Carolina would now call the Mid-Atlantic home while Georgia and Florida would join the Deep South Conference.
Texas A&M would be reunited with texas and Oklahoma in the form of the old Southwest Conference in a new home with the same name.
Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Arkansas would lead the new Sun Belt Conference into this new world, rounding out current SEC members in the reworked format.
As for the permanent rivals remaining for both Vanderbilt and Tennessee, the Commodores would retain Ole Miss while some Volunteer fans might rejoice with others upset that the Crimson Tide will stay on their schedule even in the new world order of conference realignment.
Remember, this is an exercise for fun, but if you have thoughts, love it or hate it, Forde added this to his work, giving you the fans a chance to respond and possibly see your name in a story from Sports Illustrated.
a? We'd love to hear it. Email your own proposed realignment to me at Pat.Forde@si.com. Your ideas could be used (with full credit) in a subsequent column."