The Ultimate List: Conference Realignment

With Texas and Oklahoma headed to the SEC, college football as we know it will change forever. So what are the best possible ways for this to shake out for Virginia Tech? (Spoiler: it's not waiting around for Notre Dame.)

[Mark Umansky]

To preview the season, I'm going to write a set of columns called "the ultimate list". Basically I pitched it to Joe as a long list of lists with everything from goofy jokes about which Virginia Tech football player you'd most want to babysit your kids to actual analysis about best case and worst case scenarios for the 2021 season.

This is a sample of the content you'll be able to read when we get going. Call it a proof of concept or maybe even a little nudge to get you to subscribe to The Key Players Club for the upcoming season's-worth of articles, breakdowns and insights.

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The 4 best conference realignment scenarios for the Hokies

4. The ACC adds Notre Dame and West Virginia

This is last because it's both least exciting and realistic. I'm not going to belabor the point, but the general sentiment is that Jim Phillips would have to pry independence from Notre Dame's cold, dead fingers. And it makes a ton of sense — in a world where owning your own rights is increasingly important, why would the Irish join a conference? And even if they were to sign up for one, why would it be the ACC?

And while this would theoretically give every team in the conference more money, I doubt that it would make the seismic change the programs are hoping for. It would more likely just make the ACC a slightly-less-distant-third behind the revenues of the SEC and the Big Ten.

3. Virginia Tech joins the Big Ten

Meh.

There aren't a ton of reasons the Hokies should plant their flag in the heartland other than money, but dollars seem to be the only thing that matters at the cost of literally anything else. If joining the Big Ten meant the only way for Tech to stay alive in a power conference, then let's walk through this hypothetical.

Culturally, Tech has much more in common with schools like Tennessee, South Carolina and Auburn than Indiana, Penn State and Michigan. Leaving the ACC for a conference other than the SEC would also impact recruiting. Look at Nebraska, they left the Big 12 and suddenly found themselves unable to recruit Texas like they did when they played in the state two-to-three times a year.

Would recruiting New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania be all that bad? Maybe not. But as the Cornhuskers have shown, changing your base can be a dangerous game to play. And though many Big Ten schools recruit Florida, you see fewer dip into places like the Carolinas and Georgia (where Tech currently has six commits for the '22 class). It may not matter, but if Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech were going head-to-head on a recruit, would it be harder to sell the Lane Stadium environment against the likes of Minnesota and Rutgers?

One thing to keep an eye on here, though, is Tim Sands. Sands is a Big Ten guy who was at Purdue for 10 years prior to taking the job in Blacksburg. From an outsider's perspective it seems like he's growing the university similarly to some of the larger schools in the midwest. This is all reckless speculation, but it wouldn't seem crazy to think he sees a fit with the conference he knows best.

2. Virginia Tech joins the SEC

This makes all the sense in the world. Culturally, geographically, recruiting-footprint wise. Having a staff who can recruit the Commonwealth with the money, swagger and dick swinging that comes with SEC prestige would be essential to the growth of the program.

And after listening to former ESPN boss John Skipper give his thoughts on realignment on the Dan Le Batard Show, a quick-ish addition of Virginia Tech and one more school could be incredibly beneficial to the SEC.

While we all talk about the value of different programs in a future where the sport is less reliant on cable packages, Skipper implied that this base of realignment is (at least partially) still motivated by cable network dollars. And when things expire in the mid-2030s, schools and conferences likely won't see the explosion of money they've benefitted from over the last two decades.

To put it simply, the time to make ungodly amounts of cash is right now. And if the SEC can add two extra states worth of TV subscribers (Tech and NC State, perhaps?) they should expand as quickly as they can figure out the legal ramifications of stealing two teams from the seemingly inescapable clutches of the ACC's own cable deal. The more money the SEC can make now, the better off each of their teams will be in the future.

Why is this not number one? Well, two reasons. First, are we (and by we, I mean Virginia Tech fans) ready to be bad? We're not talking road trip Pitt losses bad, we're talking about hide your eyes, dumpster fire, Derek Dooley bad.

The leap from going 8-4 in the ACC Coastal to anywhere near average in the SEC is a big one. And while Tech is growing their staff and modernizing parts of the program that had long been overlooked, it's a whole new world down south. There's no time to figure out how to be a successful, modern day program. There aren't years of padding your win totals with games against Georgia Tech, Virginia and Syracuse (okay, maybe Syracuse was a bad example, but you get it).

Instead, the Hokies would theoretically be thrown against the best teams in the country in a sink-or-swim situation. But in this environment, if you start to sink, there's a decent chance you fall right through the bottom. (This wasn't an intentional Vanderbilt joke, but since we're here... #AnchorsDown, amirite?)

There's no promise that a leap to the SEC will deliver the kind of resurrection to national prominence that many Hokie fans want to see. Outside of one glorious run with the Ol' Ball Coach, South Carolina has bathed itself in mediocrity since joining the conference in '91. Tennessee has had six (SIX!!!) head coaches since it last won 10 games, and Mississippi State has won 10 games twice since the FDR administration.

Joining the conference would give the Hokies the resources to succeed. But getting trounced by Alabama and Florida and Oklahoma won't be easy to stomach, especially early on.

But there's a second, much more practical reason this probably won't happen — there doesn't seem to be a viable way out of the ACC's woefully meager deal.

So if Tech has to stay in the conference...

1. Jim Phillips strikes first

Right now, the SEC and the Big Ten are in position to make oodles of cash. The ACC has a long-term deal, which will theoretically keep it afloat at least until 2036. And while the Big 12 implodes, the Pac-12 needs to figure out how to keep itself relevant with a deal that's even worse than the ACC's.

So here's my question. If the ACC is simply trying to hold on, and it looks like we're headed towards the creation of 1-4 super conferences anyway, why wait for somebody else to make the first move?

In my totally-not-realistic-but-wouldn't-it-be-cool dream, Phillips and the ACC brass upend college sports by creating the Coastal Conference™, a bi-coastal super conference that would include the entirety of the ACC, Pac-12, and at least two new teams to bring the Pac-12 up to 14 schools.

It would be college football's first super conference, run similarly to the AFC and NFC. Split the Coastal Conference™ into two divisions (the Atlantic and Pacific, duh) and have the two division winners meet at the end of the season to decide the champion.

Teams would play nine games against opponents in their division (read, a schedule exactly like they have now), two games against cross-division opponents (giving each of the schools more exposure on the opposite coast) and one non-conference game (preserving rivalries like Florida-Florida State, USC-Notre Dame, Georgia-Georgia Tech, etc).

It not only gives the 28 teams an opportunity to ask for a massive amount of money, but it also allows the Pac-12 to fold their woebegone network into the ACC Network and gives ESPN a borderline-monopoly on college football.

The conference also consolidates more traditional basketball powerhouses (Duke, say hi to UCLA!) and allows the Olympic sports to continue to play their standard conference schedule, with the option to have a few cross-country trips if budgets allow.

This won't happen. They'll more than likely grit their teeth through another decade-and-a-half of mediocre TV deals.

But it would be cool, wouldn't it?

Comments

I like playing around with hypotheticals like this, great article Brian.

The PSU folks have been asking me where VT is going to end up under the assumption that we would join the Big Ten if it all went to hell in a handbasket but I've been arguing, as you did, that we'd be a better culture and geographic fit with the SEC. And Virginia would be a better fit for the Big Ten.

The bicoastal league is an interesting concept. I think it is a little more far-fetched than being #1 on this list but it's a cool idea. Larry Scott has been deemphasizing football in favor of Olympic sports per the desire of the ADs in the conference so they've fallen pretty far behind in football. I'm not sure that is what we would want, but the sheer count of teams that we'd be able to absorb would move the needle somehow. The fan bases out west aren't nearly as rabid as those in Big Ten/SEC country (i.e. even though we'd add a lot of teams in a lot of mutually exclusive geographic areas, that might not equate to eyeballs on screens).

Notre Dame could play one cross-division school per year, like USC as you suggested, and then also schedule Stanford. If we were to add a UCF then we'd have three teams in Florida and if the Pac12 were to add abandoned Texas school(s) then the BiCoastal would have a footprint in all the best recruiting territories. Not a totally terrible way to go.

But dang would it be hard for east coast fans to watch 'in conference' games all the way through.

Our two Pac-12 crossovers would no doubt be Oregon State and Cal 🤦‍♂️

Amateur superstar and idiot extraordinaire.

And this is a problem bc?

Every PAC-12 school is a party school, even freaking Stanford. Hell, most folks just keep tailgating instead of coming inside the stadium for the game.

It's like joining an SEC conference without Paul Finebaum, and you get mediocre football, better beaches, teeth, and wildfires.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

For the same reason BC being our Atlantic crossover sucks, it's boring as hell (for me). We wouldn't get USC, Oregon, Stanford, UW, hell, even ASU or UCLA would be cool. In this hypothetical banana world that the ACC and Pac12 become a single monster conference, I would want to have a cool matchup for the team I root for.

Amateur superstar and idiot extraordinaire.

Don't knock Oregon State unless you've been to a game there. They haven't been great, but the atmosphere was awesome when I was there in 2015. You're even allowed to leave the stadium at half time to get more booze. This isn't as cool now that stadiums are allowing alcohol, but much cheaper if you can go grab a few cold ones from your cooler.

I thought that was cool when I heard that NC State did it, but I got to thinking about if Tech did it. I would have to be in a dead sprint to get to the airport lot, catch my breath, shotgun two beers, sprint back, throw up halfway, sad jog the rest of the way, then piss off my fellow section-mates because I'm now sweaty and smelling of regret. I knock Oregon State in my fantasy land and that's that!

Amateur superstar and idiot extraordinaire.

Its actually not great, wvu did it for years and no one was in the stadium for the 3rd, so opponents wanted the ball to start the 3rd cause it would be quiet.

Yeah if I left the stadium and went back to my tailgate to get more brewskis, unless it was a huge game or really close one, I would probably sit there and have beers/snacks and listen to the rest on the radio TBH. Sounds great but not that good in actuality I imagine.

Agreed all around. It can be a great thing or it can be a terrible thing. At Oregon State, they had frats setup outside the stadium selling drinks quickly and cheaply. That seemed to alleviate some of the issues

I missed David Wilson's kickoff return at the beginning of the 3rd in 2010 for this exact reason. And we were in the south lot right beside the stadium.

Tennessee has had six (SIX!!!) head coaches since it last won 10 games, and Mississippi State

I feel like something is missing here...?

Great article though! Really enjoyed this read. I agree that ND is never going to join the ACC. I'm not certain that VT would be a better cultural fit in the SEC vs the B1G but I can't really argue otherwise. It's certainly a much better geographical fit, though.

I agree that if the ACC is going to survive they have to move quickly and make some bold moves. I don't really know Jim Phillips but I think it is unlikely he will make such a bold move as you're suggesting. It's a cool idea, for sure, but also a pretty massive risk, especially for a Freshman commissioner. It's hard to tell exactly where CFB is headed but the arms race seems unsustainable. It is possible the sport is perilously close to an epic collapse. I think conferences/programs have to be careful about chasing the money - at some point the huge fountain of money is going to dry up. What then?

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller

VT and NC State to the SEC makes so much sense that it will never happen.

Meh, pie in the sky wishful thinking. Everyone keeps trying to come up with ways to get the ACC to the surface while the Swofford ACC Network deal slowly pulls it towards the bottom. Probably some meh two or four team addition to the ACC over the next five or six years while the SEC runs laps around the competition. The SEC used to mean more now it means boatloads more.

The LewDew, Professional Golf Bum

Phillips and the ACC brass upend college sports by creating the Coastal Conference™, a bi-coastal super conference that would include the entirety of the ACC, Pac-12, and at least two new teams to bring the Pac-12 up to 14 schools.

I'd prefer ESPNU Coastal - a single network that shares P12/ACC games, and has an annual crossover competition - but I don't want us sharing a conference championship - just a broadcast partnership

Anyways, as far as other ideas go:

Thing 1 that you didn't consider: ACC could ask ESPN for big raise in return for attempting to not shop the 12 team playoff around. I think this is likely to happen, but we'll see how big the actual impact is.

Thing 2 that you didn't consider: Promotion/Relegation. Would never happen, but it would be interesting - what if the ACC added 2-4 teams (ND, Cincy, UCF, + whatever other teams) and broke into two tiers. The top tier would be pretty competitive each season; there would be no in-conference bodybag games, and you'd basically be guaranteed 3+ ranked teams each year. I think there would also be interest in games where promotion/relegation would be on the line. Not gonna lie, I'd tune in to watch UVA play Duke to see who gets relegated. Right now, I have zero interest in watch UVA/Duke.

Does this complicate things financially? Sure - but I have a solution!

  • First + Second tier television rights + Playoff money is split between the whole conference
  • Bowl money is split within each tier (eg 1st tier splits the bowl money from top 8 teams, 2nd tier splits bowl money from bottom 8 teams)
  • Third tier rights are split between tiers as well

Twitter me

Promotion/relegation is an interesting idea but yeah it's never going to happen. What AD/president/university is going to willingly sign off on a system that financially screws them over if they get relegated when they have an equal share of the pie already?

I mean, that's the question - can the ACC come up with a way to make a whole conference worth more than the sum of its parts.

It's going to take some sort of creativity, and you're going to have to somehow find value in the long tail. Could promotion/relegation do this? Maybe? Does anyone have a better idea that is mildly feasible?

Twitter me

I think the problem is that athletic departments are very cautious/risk-averse when it comes to their financials - though that might be changing in the escalating arms race that is college football. I agree that promotion/relegation is a reasonable way to increase the value of the conference, but you can't make the lower teams take too much of a financial hit. If so, then you'll have athletic departments cutting Olympic sports every time they get relegated since your main breadwinner just took a pay cut.

The risk aversion is warranted. Athletic Departments like stability. Introducing any volitillity could come with huge risks and unforeseen consequences. And to be fair, I don't even know if promotion/relegation could work. How many FSU fans are intelligent enough to wrap their heads around this? Would it actually make the pie bigger in the ACC? Or would it just bring in a couple million extra each year to divide among the 14+ schools?

That said, I'd love to try it.

Twitter me

We already sort of have something for pro/rel and that's bowl games. Go .500 and your team is rewarded with a vacation and money bags depending on your bowl game

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

And then the money after expenses is split up amongst all the teams, including the ones that didn't go to a bowl game. Good old revenue sharing in the ACC.

It's probably an overall net positive for the conference in terms of financial stability for all its members, don't get me wrong, but same question: why would they willingly give that up?

In the bowl pro/rel, the conference wouldn't divide bowl winnings evenly. CFP participant would get a bigger piece of pie, no bowlers would get the smaller pieces at the end. TV/Streaming revenue, etc would still be split evenly.

why would they willingly give that up?

At the end of the day, it's about survival. WVU is about to become a G5 program if they can't find a home outside of the Leftover 8. I'm sure they'd take a bowl earnings cut, if it meant staying in a Power conference, and the access a Power conference provides.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

In the bowl pro/rel, the conference wouldn't divide bowl winnings evenly. CFP participant would get a bigger piece of pie, no bowlers would get the smaller pieces at the end. TV/Streaming revenue, etc would still be split evenly.

I understand that - and while I am personally of the opinion that's how things should work, that's not how they currently work in the ACC. In the current landscape under this proposal, everybody but Clemson probably takes a cut to their bowl revenue.

There's a big difference between the extinction-level threat the Big XII leftovers are facing, and what I'll call an irrelevance-level threat that the ACC schools are facing. The media grant of rights has everybody on board through 2036 (I think), unless somebody decides to sue their way out of it. So the ACC will survive; it just won't be able to keep up with the big boys. But it'll still have the NY6 tie-ins, access to the CFB playoffs, and everything else that comes with being a power conference.

Great job waiting until the last one to drop the craziest realignment proposal I've read yet haha. Very well done Brian.

I'd love to join the SEC for the safety that comes with being in the conference least likely to fall apart, the potential financial and recruiting advantages, the much more interesting and exciting regular season schedule, and being a part of a more relevant and interesting football subculture. I have little confidence that it will ever happen. As much sense as it makes, it feels like we may have missed the boat when we didn't join back when Slive openly expressed how much he wanted VT in the SEC in the early-mid 2000's.

Bi-Coastal super conference sounds really fun, and would be worth the occasional trips out West, but that would be the biggest (and most unfixable) issue. It's easy to forget how huge our country is in sheer size, and cross-country travel is still not super easy. Driving takes days, coast to coast flights are 4-6 hours across multiple timezones. I once saw a map overlaid on the US of how far teams in the Champion's/Europa league have to travel for matches and basically none of their travel compares to regular US professional league travel outside of the westernmost teams in Europe going to Russia or Ukraine.

I'd love to join the SEC for the safety that comes with being in the conference least likely to fall apart, the potential financial and recruiting advantages, the much more interesting and exciting regular season schedule, and being a part of a more relevant and interesting football subculture.

I wrestle with this one. Joining the SEC means that VT football will be in a better place, but it also would be another step closer to college football being about only the top 20ish teams. That I don't want. It might be inevitable, but if the PAC, ACC, and B10 can stay alive and keep up (questionable), it means that the CFB we know will continue to live on.

Twitter me

I agree about wanting to conserve the college football we know and love, but that statement in particular was based more on the kind of survival desperation that has been looming over all this realignment. This round of realignment feels like the most likely to completely alter the sport as we know it compared to previous ones, and there have been many.

Each coastal conference division can play everybody in their pod, and one from each of the other three pods, then a division championship game, then the conference championship game.

Televised the draw to determine which out of pod opponents you will play that year

Never Forget #1 Overall Seed UVA 54, #64 UMBC 74

Awesome topic. However, most likely and in typical ACC fashion, we do nothing and are late to the table, getting further and further behind. The small potatoes Greensboro mindset of this league is still there, even without Swofford. ND will also never join as a full member unless they are forced to by requiring a conference championship to get in the playoff. They have it made right now.

My dream scenario - the new commish forces BC and Syracuse out, we tell ND to join or find a new home for their other sports, grab WVU, try to sell Penn St on coming to the ACC to get out of the eastern division log jam, and scrap divisions permanently to have better matchups between the football brands.

Only way you sell Penn State is if the conference champion gets the auto bid, then point at Ohio State...granted they'll point right at Clemson, but whatever

Amateur superstar and idiot extraordinaire.

It's definitely worth a try and the ACC could make a compelling argument. A lot of the older PSU alums have always felt they played second fiddle in the Big Ten and have more history with some of the eastern schools. Plus Penn St recruits the mid Atlantic and south heavily now so more exposure in their recruiting areas. At the end of the day the Big Ten deal offers a lot, but a restructured ACC could be compelling.

Good stuff. Sadly, also the stuff that leaves an awful taste in my mouth regarding college football.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Ugh, I don't like any of those options. I feel that it keeps the sport moving down a dark path and less about the football and enjoying Saturdays and more about the money and everything that goes with it. Unfortunately, without imposing some sort of caps on schools I don't know how to get there or if the powers that be even want to.

Need an NIL $ cap and a cap on conferences at 16 teams. Any more than 16 really defeats the purpose of a conference.

Keeping in mind that conferences support more than two men's sports, the super conference idea is f-ing brilliant. You want to talk about securing financial stability for all sports then this the way to go. The biggest issue I see is the travel dollars that every school would need to deal with. Cross country trips for any team are not cheap, and a new tv deal would need to have enough to at least offset the additional travel costs across the board.

I don't think anything impressive happens with ACC realignment.
In my hypothetical, the Big 12 changes their name to the Big 8 and develops a hybrid conference with the PAC 12 & B1G guaranteeing each conference 3 games. So the Big 8 plays everyone in conference and they also get 3 OOC's with PAC12 & B1G.
Imagine OSU vs OSU, UW at TTU, KSU vs Oregon, ISU vs USC, BAYLOR at BEast Lancing, UM vs WVU for the color blind.

Of all the suggestions I've seen in the last 2 weeks option 1 is the most intriguing and different idea I've seen and I kind of dig the idea. Would be a good way to keep clemson around which we need to keep the ACC relevant in football and would add more fun to basketball as well. Also would give us an opportunity to seek revenge against stanford for one of the games I cant forget from my childhood.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

Full truth, guys: My wife found my NCAA Football 2014 game disc a couple weeks ago while we were cleaning out stuff from moving 4 years ago. I booted up the 360 and loaded my dynasty and...my dynasty year is 2035 and VT is in the B1G with Miami.

Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!

Pulling in Penn State and Notre Dame over WVu and Notre Dame is my pipe dream.

No way that happens, but wouldn't it be a great fit pulling PSU into the conference.

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I see what you did there, LOL.

I still can't believe they had the balls to name the newsletter that.

These pretzels are making me thirsty.

If the SEC does go to 20 teams and creates a super league, what would stop the ACC, Big Ten and PAC-12, and Big12 or AAC from keeping the status quo? Just refuse to schedule SEC teams and don't allow them into any NCAA competitions. They want to go it alone? Let 'em. I'm sure Fox would pony up the $$ to stick it to ESPN

I don't know what a Hokie is, but God is one of them!

Sign me up for Option 1. Cool idea

I I don't know much about the topic outside of this article. But I sure do like Marcolini's writing.

Saw some articles on this today. This is a very interesting idea. We need to do what we need to renegotiate our current tv deal, and the only way we can open that back up is if we add additional members. With the B1G and Pac-12, a big mega deal with Fox would be very intriguing. Our ESPN deal is really low balled, and they seem to be going all in on the SEC. Also could be good to get ND in the boat, as those three leagues have virtually all of their traditional rivals.

The only worry I have is it feels like the ACC could easily be the third wheel here, given the long-standing relationship between the Big Ten and Pac-10/12. I think the ACC should try to get some sort of access to the Rose Bowl as part of this alliance. In the event one of the Big Ten or Pac 12 champs is unavailable due to the playoff, if an ACC team not in the playoff is ranked higher than the next highest ranked Pac or B1G team, the ACC gets a spot in the game. Currently our champ or next highest ranked goes to play the usually third or fourth best SEC or Big Ten team in the Orange.

Yeah, but the interesting part of the Big10, Pac12, and ACC joining up to screw over the SEC is that it would end the Georgia/Georgia Tech, South Carolina/Clemson, Kentucky/Louisville, and FSU/UF rivalries. So I am not sure it would actually fly.

I see this as largely a political/fan issue. Similar to VA blackmailing UVA to get VT in the ACC.

GT and UGA are on different playing fields, GT would be better playing someone else instead of getting murdered.

No good can come from Clemson playing USC.

No one really cares about KY or UofL football.

Maybe FSU-Florida would be something both schools wouldn't want to give up but UF doesn't play Miami so what's special about UF-FSU?

Oh agreed, I don't care about any of those matchups, but the teams involved might.

Does it? I would hope that traditional rivalries would survive just about any realignment machinations that might exist. If this would truly be a middle finger to the SEC, then I could believe that the rivalries would end, but if anyone tried to force the SEC's hand, wouldn't it make more sense for most of them to try to join the SEC instead? If the alliance is to counter the SEC, all the SEC would have to do is say... "Hey Florida State. You in?". And the answer would be yes. Clemson, GT, whoever. Anyone would sign on.

There's no reason you couldn't still have those games.

They'd just be more the exception than the rule.

If the alliance's goal is to make better tv ratings, I don't see why rivalries would get cut. They are a wash from a competitive money making standpoint. So, the alliance needs to focus on making the other 11 games must watch tv if they want to compete with the marketability of the SEC.

Edit: English language

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." - K

Sure, you don't cut the rivalry games.

But most of the big (and little) games between the Big 10, ACC, and Pac-12 would be amongst each other. No need to promote the SEC outside of their geographic region.

And we could have rivalries back, like Nebraska and Colorado.

It's amazing all the times they met it was never in the rose bowl/s

The SEC deserves a response from the other conferences, and developing these relationships isn't a bad way to go.

The Big 12 is the odd man out.

The Alliance might be to limit the 12 team playoff to no more than 2 teams per conference. That would take some of the wind out the SEC trying to get 3-4 teams into the playoff.

And in my opinion, that conference limits NEEDS to be in there.

I've seen a lot of these takes, and I've seen a lot of suggestions (mostly on reddit) that there will be some kind of true democratic voting system where each team's/conference's preferences will be weighed equally, and I do not think that is how it will play out. The playoff is trying to make money, and part of that is putting the best product (games) on the field. I don't know why they would put these kinds of hard limitations on themselves, or give Arizona, Duke, Wake Forest, etc. the same kind of influence on the future of the sport as much larger and more important brands.

At this point people need to stop caring about conferences. View it from the national level. If all the teams that are good come from the southern states then so be it. Conference allegiance should not guarantee crappy teams still get a seat at the table. I want to see the best teams play each other for a title. This isn't to advocate for the SEC but suggesting we just care less about conferences in general.

I am with you in general, but unfortunately the media (ESPN) has decided the SEC is the best conference. In reality, I don't know how true that actually is outside of Alabama. But when you have media deciding that due to reputation that the best teams must be from SEC and that a 9-3 team there must be better than a 11-1 team from the PAC, ACC, etc. and therefore is more deserving off that playoff spot, I have issues. If you look at the top 25, you will see multi loss SEC teams ranked above single loss (P5) or NO loss G5 teams. SEC losses are better than wins for some teams.

I want to see the best teams play, but I worry about what we decide are the best teams.

All great points. I honestly wonder if the formula for ranking teams has a weighted measure for conferences.

How much money will they make if SEC is the only conference worth watching and huge chunks of fans lose interest in watching? SEC has by far the most passionate fanbases but alienating all the other ones is a bad idea. The field is stronger than the SEC if they play their cards right. But if individual teams cave to the pressure, the SEC can continue to pick off the powers of each conference. It will be interesting to see how it goes.

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." - K