The talk of superconferences appeared to die down last year when Texas and its followers decided to save the Big 12. Though while the SEC did expand to include Texas A&M and Missouri, there has not been any real dramatic movement since the conference realignment craze in 2010.
Is that about to end?
With the Big 12 & SEC agreeing to a new bowl game for their conference champions, and the talk of a new playoff on the horizon, there is discussion that college football is moving more and more toward a four-league, superconference makeup.
It's entirely possible with this change that the Final Four will be set between teams that exclusively come from four conferences - the Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC and Big 12.
That means the Rose Bowl, between the Pac-12 and Big Ten, could be a battle for a spot in the championship game. Similarly, the winner of the unnamed New Year's bowl game between the SEC & Big 12 would also be for a spot in the national championship game.
So, if you're not already in those four conferences, you might be screwed. That includes every non-BCS team and every program in the Big East and ACC - two conferences that have, of course, come under fire over the years for their lack of national success.
Is this what the future playoff scenario, the one everyone was clamoring for just weeks ago, has in store for college football? I guess when they tell you be careful what you wish for, they're not kidding. Fans in Boise and Provo have to be a bit worried about this development
I say that because superconferences don't necessarily mean more teams. This isn't 2011 anymore where every conference was trying to best the next. If the SEC went to 14 or 16 teams, the Pac-12 would soon follow. But the SEC doesn't need to go to 16 teams. They can settle at their current 14. Likewise, the Pac-12 doesn't need to expand to include 16 teams just to placate its members. Unless the Big 12 dissolves, which seems unlikely now with this new deal and the possibility of a playoff, it's not like the conference has many options anyway to expand beyond their current 12 members. BYU? Hawaii? Boise? New Mexico? Don't hold your breath.
In all actuality, the term superconference might just mean a conference that dominates the college football landscape, regardless of how many members it has. If college football is on the verge of a playoff and its set up in a way where the system favors the four most successful BCS conferences, even without expansion, those conferences inherently become superconferences.
So, where does that leave every other conference? Well, if you're the Mountain West? Tough luck. If you're the Big East or ACC? You better hope beyond hope that somehow you're included.
Now, no one knows if this will pan out that way or if this is just speculative hysterics,but it is an interesting development that certainly suggests we're nowhere out of the woods yet when it comes to all this conference talk. Which is getting old, considering we've been going at this for two years now.
What we do know is that the new bowl game, as it is, will pit two teams from the Big 12 and SEC that didn't qualify for the playoff. So, as of now, the plan isn't to incorporate this bowl game into a true Final Four. But the speculation, and let me remind you that this is all just speculation, is that, down the road, after the playoff has been implemented, we'll use the Rose & this bowl game as the official Final Four and a spot in the title game. It does make sense if we're only looking at a four-team playoff, right? You get to preserve the nature of those bowl games, while also allowing the winner to advance to play for the championship.
It's not hard to see that scenario actually happening in the next decade or so.
Either way, we're in and that's all that matters. But it's interesting nonetheless.