Manifest Destiny: The Strong Shall Inherit College Football

Let’s stop referring to anything that’s currently happening in college sports as “conference realignment” and instead show some intellectual honesty. 

This is kill or be killed. Survive or die. Every man and woman for themselves. Old school college ball is Brian Dennehy as the Sheriff, and the future is John J. Rambo destroying him and his men around every corner in the woods.

Long gone are the days of tradition mattering. Say goodbye to rivalries that have lasted a century or more and hello to USC vs. Maryland! The sport that I love more than any other has been bastardized because a few conference commissioners and school presidents got an itchy trigger finger and decided “if I don’t, they will, so I might as well shoot.” 

None of this is best for the sport. It’s all about what’s best financially for a few and not the whole. It means more alright. And I get it. There are no government bailouts in major college football. The rich get richer because there is no such thing as “rich enough” for the super-wealthy. 

Here is where I should write something about capitalism or free markets or blah blah blah but I realize Jeff Bezos probably isn’t reading this piece, so I’ll spare you the financial explanation that typically serves to make greedy people feel better about their greed. If you are reading this column, you are probably a lot like me: Someone who has an interest in the whole of college football. 

So let’s begin by admitting what’s taking place is very, very bad for all but maybe 50-60 programs. And 60 is being generous. But SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren have shown us they don’t care about your athletic budget or your feelings unless you can offer them a path to more money and security. Sorry, Iowa State. You should have had the foresight to build your campus in a better future TV market when you constructed it in 1858. And Washington State can now go play the equivalent of FCS football considering the Palouse isn’t an area where advertisers are elbowing each other to reach. 

So sorry. Ta-Ta. Money wins. Again.

Now that we are operating from a place of honesty and are fully immersed in our current and future reality, it’s time to lay out what should and will happen in the coming months: The Big Ten and SEC are both ballooning to 24 teams each and creating a de-facto NFC and AFC in College Football. 

Because if money is King, then the NFL is Elvis. So why not model yourself in their image from a revenue perspective? The amount of money each conference can get from networks and streaming services when their contracts come to market will be exponentially higher given each conference’s heavy hand with 24 programs. And the biggest college sports brands in America are all represented in these two conferences.

College Football is driving the boat on all of these moves but basketball and other sports matter (especially Men’s Basketball), so I will consider hoops as an additive to the case being made for each program’s inclusion with the big boys. But hoops can only get you so far if your football program is a national punchline (sorry, Kansas.) And while the cat is out of the bag in the Big Ten when it comes to geography, I’m still taking it into account with the SEC considering their conference (mostly) makes sense. I’m also not advocating for current SEC and Big Ten teams getting booted out of the conference (even if it makes sense given the current climate) because I think it’s a bridge too far. 

So with that wind-up out of the way, here is where both conferences should end up. This would create a 48-team, two-conference, super league and give the Big Ten and SEC a total stranglehold on all of College Football.

BIG TEN 

Current Members (16)

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Maryland

Michigan

Michigan State

Minnesota

Nebraska

Northwestern

Ohio State

Penn State

Purdue

Rutgers

Wisconsin

UCLA

USC

Additions (8)

Notre Dame

Washington

Oregon

Virginia

Arizona

Arizona State

Utah

BYU

There are some powerful brands represented in this group and it further leans into the Big Ten moving into a national conference that has nothing to do with regionality. The conference also land the biggest fish remaining in Notre Dame. I’m not placing every team into divisions in this exercise but it’s definitely not a bad thing to have rivalries like USC-UCLA, Washington-Oregon, Utah-BYU (Holy War), and Arizona-Arizona St. doing battle out west. I’ll let the suits figure out the cost analysis of sending the Washington volleyball team to Virginia for a match. But again, this is all driven by football, which is a once-a-week sport so I’m keeping the focus on gridiron implications.

SEC

Current Members (16)

Alabama

Arkansas

Auburn

Florida

Georgia

Kentucky

LSU

Ole Miss

Mississippi State

Missouri

Oklahoma

South Carolina

Tennessee

Texas

Texas A&M

Vanderbilt

Additions (8)

Clemson

Florida State

Miami

North Carolina

Virginia Tech

Baylor

TCU

West Virginia

The SEC keeps its geographic restraints to states that border each other while completely dominating the states of Florida and Texas. Which, last I checked, are fairly important states in the football world. There’s a lot of fun, future SEC match-ups in this group. Is this perfect? No. Will College Football ever be the sport we remember growing up? No. But if the future is inevitable and no amount of money will ever be enough, then we might as well milk some fun out of it. And I see a lot of fun match-ups in these two conferences. But nothing will be pleasant for those schools left without a seat when DJs Warren and Sankey stop the music.

Chad Withrow is a co-host of “OutKick 360” seen daily from 3-6pm ET on OutKick Network. You can follow him on Twitter @TheChadWithrow

Written by Chad Withrow

Chad Withrow hosts OutKick 360 and has covered Nashville sports, statewide, and SEC college issues and headlines since 2004.

19 Comments

Leave a Reply
  1. I can’t believe you get paid to write crap like this. Just drew a circle around the closest schools to the conference and thot they should be added. You obviously don’t follow other news wires and blog sites. This has to be a joke!! This definitely isn’t the location game anymore or USC and UCLA wouldn’t be headed to the B1G. Now get to work!!

    • Lmfao they basically are just saying….welp College football is totally destroyed at this point let’s just make it the Minor League NFL!!!! lollll wait till Clay comes out with his massive feature piece about how the new super conferences are such a positive boon for sports betting! Because tbh that seems to be the only value that Clay actually finds in sports at this point.

  2. Don’t be shocked if the Big XII gets to 20 before the B1G or SEC. Also, don’t be shocked if the XII, after effectively killing off the PAC-12, starts picking away at the ACC. Then, we’re talking three Super Conferences and not two.

    • That’s what I was thinking. Its more likely Arizona, ASU, Utah and Colorado go to the Big XII. Which leaves Miami, FSU, and Clemson out in the cold. The SEC makes more sense geographically, but why wouldn’t you rather go rule another “superconference” in football?

      In the end, these superconferences make no sense. The SEC currently takes 3-4 years for a team to play everyone once. In reality, once Texas and Oklahoma come over, the SEC is two conferences branding itself as one. You can’t have 18 teams, a 12 game schedule, and 4 OOC games and logically say you are one conference. Its more like pre-1969 MLB where the top team from each conference plays in a title game.

      • Big XII met with ASU, AZ, Utah, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington today. SEC might poach from the Big XII, but it’s sure as hell is not going to be TCU and WV. There will be 2-3 power conferences. Out of conference games will be no longer. Everyone left dead will be in a different division.

        • I tend to agree, but OOC games is how modern-day conferences survive. I can’t imagine they want to go back to the 1960’s era of isolation football. But at the same time, you can’t have more than 2 OOC games if you have 16+ teams in your own conference

  3. My ACC has retreated into its “panic room” hoping to wait out the home invaders … while cussing Johnny Swofford’s millennium TV deal.
    .
    75% of The ACC (minus Miami, FSU, and Dabo U) are NOT “sleeping giants” in Football … if so they have terminal narcolepsy. They ARE polite programs that vie for 3-star recruits and get excited about Christmas In Shreveport when they finally become “bowl eligible” in late November. Their NIL deals involve used Priuses and free fries at the campus burger shack. … and thats all they will ever be. Sorry all you deluded lunatic fans on Tobacco Road.
    .
    BUT THERE IS HOPE … They COULD create a boutique conference of ten “like us” schools within a 500 mile circle of Richmond … preserve traditional rivalries that no one cares about except their own alums … and enjoy tailgating and their 50,000 seat stadiums. That could be a done deal by noon tomorrow. …. … Do they have to be in a Power Conference to be relevant in MBB? Tell that to Gonzaga or Villanova … NO, they don’t.
    .

  4. Whatever shakes out … these 2-3-4 year “lame duck” seasons waiting to move are STUPID. If you told your boss you were taking a job at the competitor across the street … he would hand you a box for your personal items and call security to walk you out the door. … and turn in your credit card and parking pass.
    .
    Pay some silly buy-out deal with monopoly money and go wherever you are going ….
    .

    • Do they really think the rest of the SEC and B1G fanbases are going to be into this shit if they don’t do that? Seriously what is the point of even being a fan at all if you aren’t a fan of one of the top 4 programs in each conference. Furthermore what’s the point of being a fan in general if almost every fun traditional rivalry game in conference has just been totally ruined by a bunch of “new bullshit changes make everything better!” elites running the show?

  5. If this is really where college football is headed next I will never ever ever watch another game of this Amazon version of college football bullshit. You have to be the most watered down loser of a fan to want to se this happen seriously. Lmfao and all of my fellow SEC fans who are just like “whatever bro let the other conferences die bro they all suck bro” yeah I’m sure you will be singing that same tune when all of your recruiting bases are just totally decimated since you no longer have the sales pitch of playing in the most dominant conference.

    Two “super conferences” is not what CFB is about or any college sports for that matter but nope everyone had to have their precious NIL deals for a bunch of literal fucking retards who will do nothing positive with the money they are given. Just so the giant assholes that run the SEC and Big 10 could get their new amateur NFL and totally destroy the minimal pageantry remaining in college football. Lol I really don’t think the morons who have pushed all of this have realized how many even young fans are saying fuck this NCAA create a team bullshit you are smoking right now.

  6. Fuck every single sports writer that has no balls or actual foresight to question what any of this hyper accelerated change will do to fan interest and CFB itself lol. It’s such a joke pretending like everyone is just all on board for this complete unhinged upheaval of the sport.

    • 7-8 programs will still be SuperPowers vying for all the 5-star recruits …. another dozen will be “wanna-bees” who upset a SuperPower once every 5 years …… the other 60+ programs will hope to be “BOWL ELIGIBLE” by mid-November and get to brag about “Christmas In Shreveport” …..
      .
      All that those 60+ programs have is their traditional “Hated Rivalries” that no one but their respective alum/fans care about …. but they REALLY care about them. …
      .
      Not sure what influence Outkick writers can have on this out-of-control train wreck….

  7. My understanding is USC and ND want Stanford to join the B1G, not UW or Oregon. It’s the bigger market, but more importantly, it is a private school with Ivy League academic prestige. From what I’ve read this is more important than a current brand like Oregon, since the league would have 3-4 FB bluebloods in OSU, USC, ND and UM.

Leave a Reply