So yesterday, we ended after deciding that the best idea for a tournament is one that features the 11 conference champions. The rub against this plan is that some conferences, like, for example, the MAC or the Sun Belt well perennially be weak. Of course, this may not always be the case. Just look at what Gonzaga has done for the West Coast Conference in basketball. The whole conference, suddenly, is more respected. It would eventually happen that Western Michigan or Troy or someone would step up and become a prime time team from once of these conferences.
But do you know what the best thing would be? What if we completely redrew conference lines? What if we reassigned all the teams out there to completely new conferences, based entirely on geography? That would, in theory, make everything fair, right? So, after hammering out that tournament plan, Steve and I set to creating twelve ten team conferences to span the country. We started in the Northeast and worked our way to the west. Steve created a map of the conference areas. Below, I'll have the list of teams in each conference, and a little note on all of them.
First, in gray is what we called the New England conference. It features Boston College, UCONN, Army, Syracuse, Buffalo, Rutgers, Penn State, Maryland, Navy and Temple. It seems to be a fairly competitive conference that would likely oscillate between Penn State and Boston College, with Maryland or Rutgers maybe popping in there every once in a while as a champion. Additionally, the Army-Navy game would be played yearly as part of the conference schedule.
In red is a conference dubbed "Appalachian". In it are Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Pitt, Ohio, Marshall, Kentucky, Louisville, Cincinnati, and Miami (Ohio) There was really no way to do this without slicing up some states. Chunks of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky were thrown into the mix here. West Virginia versus Virginia Tech would have been a juicy conference game this year.
The Great Lakes conference is in green and contains Ohio State, Kent, Akron, Bowling Green, Toledo, Eastern Michigan, Michigan, Michigan State, Central Michigan, and Western Michigan Of any conference, this contains the highest percentage of teams from the same existing conference, namely, the MAC. Ohio State and Michigan would likely have field days with this conference. Of course, it goes to demonstrate why OSU and Michigan have such paltry non conference schedules. There are a LOT of crappy schools nearby.
The next conference, the Tobacco Road conference (yellow), is heavy on the ACC, because there are so many of their schools in North Carolina, but all of the Tennessee schools are here as well. This means the schools are Eastern Carolina, NC State, North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, Tennessee, Middle Tennessee State, Vandy, Western Kentucky, and Memphis. If the SEC is as splendid as I'm told, Tennessee should have no problems here.
The fifth conference, the Midwest, in cyan features Notre Dame, Ball State, Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. This conference is probably the most thoroughly challenge, despite it not having an elite team when Notre Dame is in a down year. Wisconsin should have their way with most of the conference year in and year out.
The next conference, in seafoam green (I worked in a paint department for 3 years. Give me a break) is the Florida Conference. As it's name would suggest, it features all the teams of Florida and three from other states. The included schools are Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Miami, South Florida, Central Florida, Florida, Florida State, Tulane, Troy, and Southern Miss. This could be a brutal conference, especially when all the Florida teams are running on all cylinders. the thought of the Gators annually finishing third amuses me.
The Great Plains is in pink. Thats not an assessment of the talent there, however, as this is a particularly tough draw, featuring many Big 12 powerhouses. The teams are Iowa State, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska, Arkansas St, Arkansas, Tulsa, Oklahoma St, and Oklahoma. Arkansas State appears to be the most overmatched team in any conference. Splitting the Red River rivals Oklahoma and texas was the toughest decision we made of them all.
The Dixie (Blue) conference may be the most self assured of all conferences out there, and be fully of the opinion that they are the best. In it are several SEC teams. Overall, the conference includes South Carolina, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, UAB, Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi St. Auburn, and Louisiana-Monroe. Most of these teams are fairly evenly matched, although I would suspect Georgia and Auburn to consistently be near the top.
The Gulf Coast in orange conference was tough to sort out, but this is what we came up with: Louisiana Tech, LSU, Louisiana Lafayette, North Texas, SMU, TCU, Texas, Rice, Texas A&M, andHouston There are 8 teams in eastern Texas to choose from, but there were still three left in Louisiana that needed a conference. This led to a logjam for that conference, and we needed to figure what school to leave out. We kept the schools in Dallas and the schools in Houston all together, which left Baylor and Texas as the two outliers. I pushed for Texas to be left out, because they were the most isolated, but eventually we decided on Baylor, because otherwise LSU would be mostly uncontested in this conference.
The cleverly named Mountain West conference is in goldenrod and features Baylor, Texas Tech, UTEP, New Mexico State, New Mexico, Air Force, Colorado, Colorado State, Wyoming, and BYU. With the schools so few and far between, this was a rather difficult conference to sort out, especially upon looking for that 10th team. It came down to a Utah school or Arizona. We decided against putting Arizona in this conference, even though Tuscon is closer to Las Cruces than Los Angeles, BYU is the furthest south school in Utah so they were elected to join this conference. It's not a huge stretch, since they are already in the same conference as Air Force. This is by far the weakest of the 12 conferences.
The next conference, the Great Basin conference because it includes two teams from Nevada, is in the periwinkle (my brother's architecture professor one time said "What is periwinkle? Maybe it's something I smoked one time when I was in school, but it's not a color"). It features Washington, Washington State, Idaho, Oregon State, Oregon, Boise State, Utah State, Utah, Nevada, and UNLV. This could be a wild conference, with Boise State and their perpetually talented offense, Utah and it's twice a decade resurgence and Nevada with the pistol offense. Not to mention, Washington and Oregon tend to put forth strong squads frequently. Definitely an entertaining group of schools.
The last conference, the California conference (brown), features a lot of sun soaked schools in the southwest, with members including California, Stanford, San Jose St. Fresno St. UCLA, USC, San Diego State, Arizona St, Arizona, and Hawaii. Imagine the embarassment Hawaii could have saved if they had just played Arizona State, USC and California in the regular season. The schools of southern California will likely cycle between championships, but this will certainly be a power conference, as it has six members of the Pac 10.
So Steve and I sorted out these conferences and had a lot of fun trying to figure out who would have won each conference this past season. Who do you think would have won? We'll continue this tomorrow.
Labels: NCAA Football, Three part post