College football faces changes

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The world of college football is about to get turned on its head.

Last week, news broke that Texas and Oklahoma had reached out to the SEC about possibly leaving the Big 12 conference and seeking greener pastures in the nation's premier football conference.

Naturally, this move has churned up the waters of conference realignment.

Because both Oklahoma and Texas are two of the biggest brands in college athletics, there's going to be repercussions felt across the entirety of college football.

The last round of realignment began nearly 10 years ago to the day, which saw the demise of the Big East and the realignment that we see today.

Because of the two founding members' plans to bolt the Big 12 as it stands today, the conference is facing a possible collapse and there's notion the NCAA is shifting to a “super conference” model.

With the news breaking nearly by the hour, it's hard to keep up with what will actually become the new normal for college football.

One possibility is four major conferences, each expanding to 16 teams.

Currently, the SEC, ACC and Big10 each field 14 teams, the Big 12 has10, the Pac 12 is ironically the only conference with 12.

If expansion does go the route of 16 teams and become a field of four conferences with 16 teams, what makes the most sense as far as alignment goes is going to fundamentally change football as we know it.

Instead of each conference having two divisions of eight teams, one possibility is each conference forming four pods of four teams, where each team gets a home and home series against every team in its pod.

In addition to each team playing the pod teams twice, each team would play every team in the conference at least once in the following four years.

This allows flexibility to schedule quality non-conference opponents, while still giving teams the traditional rivalry games.

It certainly would shift more toward what the NFL does, but in the age of NIL (Name-Image Likeness) compensation, college athletes are becoming closer to professional athletes as it is.

In all likelihood, the Big 12 is dead.

Monday morning, news broke that Texas and Oklahoma announced their intention to not renew media rights within the Big 12 when the current rights expire in 2025, and would allow the two schools to apply for membership to the SEC.

So what happens as far as alignment goes?

Currently, the remaining Big 12 teams in Texas (Baylor, TCU, Texas Tech) and Oklahoma State have reportedly been in contact with the Pac 12.

Kansas, Iowa State and Kansas State have been rumored to be talking with the Big10.

This leaves West Virginia possibly exploring entry to the ACC.

If WVU heads to the ACC, Notre Dame will likely follow and finally be rid of the Independent status, which would create an equal, 16-team conference for the SEC, Big10, Pac12 and ACC.

While the specifics are still being ironed out and will certainly create a firestorm of media attention in the coming weeks, there's a chance we see a renewal of traditional rivalries that died with the Big East's demise.

Either way, football will continue to dominate as it always has. It's just going to look quite a bit different.

Chris Siers is sports editor of the Tribune. Email him at sports@t-g.com.

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