This never-ending cycle of conference realignment has brought massive change to the sport.
It began two years ago when Oklahoma and Texas announced their intention to join the SEC, leaving the Big 12 behind. It continued with a flurry of moves at the Group of Five level before another blockbuster move in the summer of 2022, which saw UCLA and USC bolt to the Big 10.
Now, it’s continuing with Colorado leaving the Pac-12 following the 2023 season. The Buffs will head back to the Big 12, the conference they left just over a decade ago.
The Pac-12 now finds itself in a precarious position. With just nine programs and potentially more on their way out, the conference faces an existential threat. If it wants to survive, it’s going to need creativity.
This round of realignment has shown us nothing is out of the question. So, while it’s a long shot, could we see Tulane return to the Power Five?
For years, LSU has existed as the lone Power Five program in the state. That’s provided LSU with a recruiting advantage seldom seen in the sport. There are financial benefits too. College football is a billion-dollar industry, and LSU’s the biggest show in town.
That begs the question: What dynamics would change if Tulane joined LSU at the P5 level?
I don’t think it would cut into LSU’s fanbase. The foundation in Baton Rouge that reaches across the state and region is too great to be broken into. It would take a sustained downward turn and given LSU’s current situation and recent athletic success, that doesn’t appear likely.
The biggest changes could be seen in recruiting. Tulane sits right in New Orleans, one of the nation’s premier talent hotbeds. If the Green Wave were to recruit with Power Five muscle, a few more top recruits would go there.
It might not be significant, but it would make somewhat of a difference. Power Five schools bring in more money, so Tulane would see improved name, image and likeness operations.
At the same time, Tulane would have to energize an alumni base that is much smaller than LSU’s and historically cares less about football.
Perhaps we’d see LSU play Tulane again. The two used to be major in-state rivals before the annual game faded. Although, that game would benefit Tulane more than it would LSU. And I’m not sure we’d see LSU rushing to help Tulane were the Green Wave to move up.
A lot would also depend on the financial situation of the conference Tulane joined. The Big 12 is trending in the right direction, but what the future of the Pac-12 looks like remains in serious doubt.
Tulane moving up would give more juice to a state that already treats football as a religion. It might not be to LSU’s benefit, but it would be interesting to see how it played out.