The State of College Football: 5 things to know about realignment

·3 min read

The 2022 college football season is still a few months away, but college football fans across the country are concerned about the current state of college football.

Before the 2021 season, Texas and Oklahoma announced future plans to leave the Big 12 and join the SEC. Recently, USC and UCLA mimicked the Longhorns and Sooners, except they are departing from the Pac-12 for the Big Ten.

Conference realignment can be good for the game, but it also comes with hesitancy and criticism.

Since then, plenty of rumors are swirling around. Here’s what you need to know about the current state of college football with respect to conference realignment.

The Big 12 is making moves to absorb remaining Pac-12 teams

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The Big 12 was once seen as a conference near dissolution when Oklahoma and Texas announced their plans to leave. Today, the conference is making it clear that it isn’t going anywhere and is actually trying to improve. Other Pac-12 schools (Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, Colorado, Utah and Washington) are looking to follow USC and UCLA in leaving, the Big 12 may be the best possible landing spot for them.

Everyone's waiting on Notre Dame

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Though Notre Dame‘s football program is independent, the other Fighting Irish athletic programs are members of the ACC. There is a growing belief that Notre Dame will make the move over to the Big Ten. Before extending invites to other programs, the Big Ten and likely others are waiting to see what Notre Dame decides to do.

Radio silence from the Pac-12

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The USC-UCLA announcement was a catalyst in the Pac-12. It now seems as if just about every other program in the conference is exploring other opportunities with either the Big Ten or the Big 12.

When Texas and Oklahoma left the Big 12, it immediately added four nationally relevant programs in UCF, Houston, BYU and Cincinnati. The Pac-12 has not done the same and doesn’t seem to be moving with any sense of urgency. Instead, it is attempting to land a new media rights deal, which, if lucrative, could lure programs back in.

The ACC remains untouched... for now

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The ACC is the only remaining Power Five conference to not be impacted by conference realignment yet. However, there’s plenty of time for things the change and CBS Sports’ college football analyst Dennis Dodd believes Miami, Clemson and Florida State may soon “migrate” to the SEC.

“Breaking the ACC grant of rights might require a significant eight-figure exit fee, assuming the contract isn’t successfully challenged in court. However, such a penalty could be financed over a period of years while the new schools reap an annual windfall,” writes Dodd.

The SEC is quiet. Too Quiet.

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The SEC seems to be playing a waiting game. Sure, a few ACC programs have been tied to the SEC, but nothing has come of it. The conference will likely wait for one of two things to happen: programs of interest reach out and request an invitation or the Big Ten makes moves that the SEC needs to match in order to keep up.