Blog Entry Joint Future Power Rankings

Posted on: September 22, 2011 1:22 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 1:45 pm

Posted by Matt Norlander and Chip Patterson

Conference realignment has temporarily slowed down, at least for the time being. With Texas A&M leaving the Big 12, and Syracuse making a move to the ACC with Pittsburgh, it seems as though we have seen most of the moves for 2011. But the threat of a complete shift in the college landscape got us at thinking: "How will this all look in 2014?"

We selected that end date because that is when the current agreements between the BCS and the AQ conferences expires. At that point, each conference will be re-evaluated to determine their status as an automatic qualifier for the Bowl Championship Series.

In a joint meeting of the minds between the college football and college basketball writers and bloggers, we mapped what we believe to be the most likely landscape for the six major conferences in 2014 for both sports. For some explanations on how the moves have/might come to be you can check out these realignment columns from Brett McMurphy and Jeff Goodman.

The 16-team superconferences is not something we envision happening before 2014. With the commitment from Big East and Big 12 schools to sticking together along with the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences sitting perfectly content with their current membership, it is unlikely there will be enough shuffling in the next two years for two whole conferences to completely dissolve from the BCS picture.

With the future conference rosters set, Matt Norlander and I took on the task of ranking the six leagues in our future conference power rankings. You can read his take on the future of the basketball conferences at the Eye on College Basketball, while I break down the football side at the Eye on College Football.

Our rankings, as expected, don't exactly line up. But we decided to make our judgements for the joint future conference power rankings based on a combination of football and basketball dominance, fan base, and conference stability.

It should come as no surprise then, that No. 1 on our joint power rankings is the Big Ten. With some of the most storied football programs in the game and four top-tier basketball programs, the conference is a leader in both major revenue sports. The conference was the first to pioneer their own television network, and will begin raking the revenue from their first football conference championship in 2012. Conference commissioner Jim Delany has stressed that the league will look for "quality not quantity" when it comes to expansion, and that's because - at least in our opinion - they are leading the way in college athletics.

Based on the projected movements, here are the Future Conference Power Rankings

1. BIG TEN (FOOTBALL RANK: 2, BASKETBALL RANK: 2) - One of our criteria for the joint power rankings was stability, and it is hard to get more stable than the oldest Division I conference. From a football perspective they already had a history of greatness on their side, and then in their most recent expansion boosted their stats even more with the addition of Nebraska. By 2014 Ohio State and Michigan will be out from the cloud of uncertainty in football, joining the Cornhuskers, Michigan State, and Wisconsin to lead the Big Ten elite.

Norlander referred to Indiana as a "sleeping giant" in basketball and I think he's absolutely correct. The Big Ten fields the second-most NCAA tournament bids in this future conference landscape, only trailing the ACC. Tom Izzo hasn't discussed retirement anytime soon, and the Spartans will lead the way on the court while a slew of football powers will try to end the SEC's streak of national championships. The reason Delany is not stressed about quantity is because this conference does have the most quality. -- Chip Patterson

2. SEC (FOOTBALL RANK: 1, BASKETBALL RANK: 6) - You see the power that football has in our overall conference rankings evidenced right here. Because for as amazing as the Southeastern Conference is on the field, it’s downright dour on the maple. No matter, the league is arguably the most stable of any conference because it’s so comfortable with its identity. Winning half a hundred football titles will do that. The SEC will continue to dictate the tempo and story of college football so long as its storied programs keep outrunning the rest of the country with that Es Eee Cee Speed.

  Kentucky can carry the load in hoops, and all will be well.  – Matt Norlander

3. ACC (FOOTBALL RANK: 5, BASKETBALL RANK: 1) - From a football perspective, the ACC is adding three schools that combine for only three Top 25 finishes in the last decade. Additionally Virginia Tech's projected exit takes away four of the last seven conference championships. But in hoops? The expansion gives them 9 of the last 13 national champions and arguably five of the top programs in the nation. The increase in membership to 14 schools also adds stability to the conference, should there eventually be a shift to the 16 team superconference model. Losing Virginia Tech is a huge blow to the conference's football strength, but that fall-out is overshadowed by the new dominance in basketball. The combination puts them in the middle of the road for both sports, but opposite ends of the spectrum in each. -- CP

4. PAC-12 (FOOTBALL RANK: 3, BASKETBALL RANK: 4) - The Pac-12 is poised to eventually climb higher on this list thanks to its leadership and foresight into how to expand its brand and make loads of billions in the next decade. For now, the conference falls fourth in our overall rankings because its across-the-board quality in football and basketball, while solid, lacks the true dominance the SEC has in football, the ACC in basketball, and the utter balance the Big Ten owns in both.

  But the league is secure. That we know. And no matter what happens down the road with conference tectonic-plate shifting, the West Coast will always need and demand representation. The Pac-12 will never fold. It may change names, but the conference will exist so long as we’re turning on the lights and rolling the ball out there.  -- MN

5. BIG 12 (FOOTBALL RANK: 3, BASKETBALL RANK: 5) - The stability of this conference relies on Texas and Oklahoma. As the last several weeks have shown us, that is not a very comforting situation for the rest of the conference. But Longhorn Network be damned, this conference survived the Realignment Scare of 2011. With schools reportedly content with a 10-team football roster, BYU will bring some intrigue with their first opportunity in a BCS conference. The exit of Texas A&M does cause the conference to lose some of the traditional rivalries college football fans have come to know and love, but the Cougars will have a chance to carve their niche in the conference's history. Kansas is the cornerstone of Big 12 basketball, but it has been hard for any other teams to remain dominant over an extended period of time. Texas and Oklahoma will have to play nice with the new leadership in the conference office for this conference to survive past 2014. -- CP

6. BIG EAST (FOOTBALL RANK: 6, BASKETBALL RANK: 3) - Just as the SEC hangs near the top of our power rankings because of football, the Big East lives down below because its football side is not only dismal, it’s on the verge of barely qualifying as a major-conference worthy. Plenty would argue that’s already the case. And with Syracuse and Pitt now gone, in addition to the fact we’re envisioning UConn bolting for the ACC any time now, the basketball product takes a tremendous hit.

While the Big 12 and the Big East really seemed to wobble for a week or so there, the possibility of both leagues collapsing into each other becoming more likely until the Pac-12 stopped that, we rank the Big East lower than the Big 12 based off football alone. Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman talked about with me on the podcast Wednesday, and we discussed when the Big East will eventually come to accept that it’s not a football league, it’s never been a football league, and it’s never going to be one. And no matter how good your basketball schools are, if you can’t even look worthwhile compared to the rest of the big boys, then you probably shouldn’t even be at the table.  -- MN

(Photo Credits: US Presswire) 

Since: Oct 30, 2006
Posted on: September 27, 2011 4:05 pm Joint Future Power Rankings

Excellent comment.  Past national championships are great for school pride, but a 1949 championship has little affect on current games.  I especially like it when they start including records of teams not in a conference yet as part of the conference record???

Since: Feb 5, 2009
Posted on: September 22, 2011 8:14 pm Joint Future Power Rankings

Pac-12 Football ranking VASTLY overrated.  Compare them team for team with the new ACC (I'm talking about historically as well, not just now):

Think of the past, schools with multiple national championships: ACC- Miami (5), Florida State(2), Pitt (6), and Georgia Tech (3).  Pac 12-USC (8*) and Cal (2).

*- 2004 national championship excluded, as it was vacated by the NCAA for cheating.

Schools from each conference with 1 national championship:  ACC- Clemson, Syracuse and Maryland.  Pac 12- Washington, Colorado, UCLA and Stanford.

So if you want to go by national championships...  The ACC has them.

How 'bout TV market?  Which conference has more population in their footprint for viewers?  It's not close.  Then look at B-ball:  Pitt, Syracuse, Duke, North Carolina and Maryland vs.  UCLA, Arizona, Stanford and Washington.  I'm not so sure that's close either...

Since: Oct 25, 2010
Posted on: September 22, 2011 1:32 pm Joint Future Power Rankings

Gosh guys...why even bother to play any games...we'll just let you decide how things will turn out.  For all your brilliance, I think a Noble prize is in order...these types of articles, projecting two years out what the world will be like, are intellectual nonsense, derived from those who think they can read the tea leaves like dime store psychics.  I'll wait fo reality to guys need to do some real reporting and stop with the prognostications.  The real world will happen. 

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