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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Super Duper Mega Conferences: Pac-16

All this talk of superconferences is not new. In fact, when the Big Ten announced they were looking for a 12th team 2 years ago, I put in my two cents (as I always do) that 16-team conferences were right around the corner. Apparently I was just a little bit premature - er, early - in making such a bold claim. But it is certainly looking more and more like a viable possibility.

So, why not some hypothetical Superconferences? Keep in mind, my firsthand knowledge is only by performance in College Football. And college football is the obvious draw here since NCAA basketball already has a playoff system that people are mostly happy with. I'll try to due some diligence to include academic accolades, but no guarantees.

Imagine 4 conferences with 16 teams each resulting in a veritable "King of the Hill" of college football. Mandatory conference review/realignment every 5 years to ensure up-and-comers get their fair shake too. Today's report looks at a hypothetical Pac-16 since they are the focal point among experts right now.


The current 12 are going nowhere. Most are strong academic institutions. Oregon, though not academically impressive, is the class of the conference in college football right now. Washington State is basically tied to the University of Washington, and ditto for Oregon State. Even though Colorado and Utah are the newbies, and they are just fine academically. Colorado has a National Championship (1990) and a Heisman winner (Rashaan Salaam - 1994). The Utes have an undefeated season under Urban Meyer (2004) and Mormons.

So how do you fill the final 4 spots? Candidate face off.

Oklahoma Sooners
Academically about as strong as the current bottom 3, but like Oregon, this team is always fighting for Conference and National Championships. It's a bit of a hike for the coastal teams, but then again, so is Hawai'i for everyone else in the WAC. If Oklahoma wants to join the hypothetical Pac-16, I'm sure they can make it happen.

Texas Longhorns
Much stronger academic history than Big XII counterpart OU, and they've had some recent success getting Heisman and National Championship talk. Plus, the state (or just the school?) has it's own network. These guys are what we economists call "market makers" and can pretty much go wherever they want...if the price is right.

Oklahoma Sate & Texas Tech
Rumor has it, if the first two teams from the Big XII that I mentioned make the jump, these guys are basically tied in. OkSt falls into that category of the underachieving, but acceptable schools academically, but Texas Tech is a little worse off. Sure, they have usually put up 8 or 9 wins each season, but they would easily be considered the least academic school in a conference with great standards like Standford, Cal, and USC.

Boise State Broncos
Everyone jumped on the bandwagon a few years ago when Boise first cracked the BCS code. Maybe they're not such a lovable underdog anymore, but they still put on a heck of a show every week with their high scoring offense and frequent trick/gimmick plays. The problem is, their academic standards make Texas Tech look like Harvard.  And if you step up the level of competition, can the kids with the blue field maintain their superb performance?

Nevada, Air Force, BYU
These 3 are the long-shots. They are good enough to find themselves ranked in the Top 25 at some point most seasons, but rarely flirt with the Top 10. BYU is a good school with a good reputation, and in this new superconference environment, there's no place for an Independent. So they're the best placed with the most to gain of these three in my mind, but they don't have the resume to get consideration over schools from the Big XII or Boise State. Remember, this is still about college football.

If I had it my way, I'd take Oklahoma, Texas, Boise, and BYU for the best competition. But I don't make the rules or pay the bills. The more likely result will be the two from Oklahoma and the two from Texas. Fortunately, we may not be in suspense for long as the talks and speculation continue to fill headlines and dead air during the games.

(Next week, The Big 16)
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