The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Big Shakeups in Store for College Football

Shafkat Anowar/AP

In college football, conference realignment is not a new phenomenon. Still, the changes over the last few months have rocked the world of college sports.

Conference realignment has been happening for decades, with many conferences being created and destroyed in the process. The following includes some significant moments in the history of conference realignment, beginning in the 1920s. In 1923, the Southern Conference was made up of 23 teams, and 13 of those schools broke away to form the Southeastern Conference (SEC). In 1948, the Western Conference became the Big Ten. In 1953, the ACC was born. In 1957, the Pacific Coast Conference imploded after several scandals, and teams left to form the PAC-8, which would become the PAC-12. In 1990, the SEC voted to expand, bringing in South Carolina and Arkansas. Also in 1990, Penn State, one of the last notable independent teams, joined the Big 10. In 1994, the first major conference, the Southern Conference, was killed, and the remaining teams joined the Big 8 to create the Big 12. In 2010, the Big 12 almost fell apart but was saved. Missouri and Texas A&M left the Big 12 the following year, but TCU and West Virginia replaced them. In 2012, Maryland and Rutgers joined the Big 10, and it was the last big move until 2021. 

Texas and Oklahoma

In 2021, after about ten years of calm in the conference realignment world, Texas and Oklahoma announced they would be leaving the Big 12 and moving to the SEC in 2025. Their move has been pushed up to 2024, as of this year, according to Sports Illustrated. This announcement shocked the world of college sports because it was so unexpected. Texas and Oklahoma moved conferences for two main reasons: money and the allure of the SEC. The SEC is, without a doubt, the best conference in college football. The SEC has the most appearances in the college football playoff. The SEC also has six of the nine national championships of the playoff era. With success like the SEC comes money. Texas and Oklahoma have had stadium renovations in recent years and are struggling to fill those seats and get revenue. The SEC also gets drastically more TV revenue than the Big 12, which is split among the teams. 

The Texas and Oklahoma transition to the SEC sparked a college football-wide frenzy of realignments. Here is ESPN’s breakdown of each Power 5 conference’s new situation:


2023: Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss, Miss. State, Arkansas, Kentucky, Florida, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Tennessee and Auburn.

2024: Adding Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 10.


2023: Clemson, Florida State, Boston College, Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Miami, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and NC State.

2024: Adding Cal and Stanford from the Pac-12 and SMU from the AAC.

Big 12

2023: Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, TCU, Iowa State, Texas Tech and West Virginia. The Big 12 added Cincinnati, UCF and BYU to the conference for the 2023 season.

2024: Texas and Oklahoma leave. Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah join from the Pac-12.

Big Ten

2023: Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Northwestern, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

2024: Adding Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington from the Pac-12.


2023: Colorado, UCLA, USC, Cal, Utah, Washington, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Arizona, Arizona State and Washington State.

2024: Colorado, UCLA, USC, Cal, Utah, Washington, Oregon, Stanford, Arizona and Arizona State leave. Only Oregon State and Washington State remain.

College Football Impacts

With the new alignments, the Pac-12, one of the major Power 5 conferences, is essentially eliminated. All but two of the teams are leaving, and unless some miracle happens that can keep the Pac-12 alive, those two teams will likely be moving to one of the Group of 5 conferences. This will also have massive playoff implications because the six highest-ranked conference champions have automatic bids under the college football playoff expansion. With larger conferences like the soon-to-be 18-team Big Ten, it will be much harder for teams to become conference champions. It will also eliminate a Power 5 conference, meaning more Group of 5 teams will get automatic bids to the playoffs. These moves have been motivated by money — mainly TV deals. The Pac-12 could not secure as lucrative of a TV deal as the rest, so the teams fled toward the money. However, teams moving to tougher competition will likely have more losing seasons, which fans won’t appreciate.

Impacts for the Rest of the NCAA

Conference realignment is driven by college football, but it will impact other sports more. This round of conference realignment has resulted in some conferences having teams thousands of miles apart. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) will now have two West Coast teams, Cal and Stanford. The Big Ten, largely a midwest and eastern conference, has UCLA, USC, Oregon and Washington coming in. College football athletes will be largely unaffected because Power 5 football teams typically fly chartered flights, almost exclusively play on Saturdays and have some of the nicest facilities of any sport. But most other sports have to fly commercial and sometimes play games on weekdays and occasionally multiple games in one week. Now, teams at schools like Cal that could take a bus to play some of their in-conference opponents will have to go to the East Coast – a six-hour flight without layovers. The extra travel will mean student-athletes will miss more class days and get less rest between practice, games and class. There will be a high cost for non-football student-athletes, and it could seriously impact mental health.

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