In the wake of Colorado's impending move to the Big 12, it's hard not to think about which schools could follow suit and switch conferences, and there a few programs that are likely to follow suit and join the top-tier conferences in college football.
Conference realignment started with the massive moves of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC. Shortly after, the Big Ten countered by adding USC and UCLA, adding two Los Angeles programs to a conference rooted in the midwest.
Now that another top program in Colorado with head coach Deion Sanders is leaving the Pac-12, here are a few other potential moves that would shake up the college football landscape.
Oregon and Washington to Big Ten
As we've seen with the USC/UCLA and Texas/Oklahoma moves, these shifts often happen in pairs, ensuring that leagues have even numbers of teams. This transition has been rumored since the Los Angeles schools moved to the predominantly-Midwestern conference, as Oregon and Washington are two of the bigger brands remaining in the Pac-12.
This move makes a ton of commercial sense, as the Big Ten cannot allow the SEC to work their way into the West Coast and erode the monopoly they're building there. It could also help with scheduling as the conference moves towards "pod" methodology, as the former Pac-12 schools could play each other routinely to reduce travel for all members.
Arizona to Big 12
This move had actually been discussed more than Colorado heading to the conference, despite the latter getting done first. The university matches the scholastic profile the Big 12 is looking for, as they look to increase average academic rate within the conference.
It's easy to forget sometimes, but there are sports other than football, namely basketball, as far as Arizona is concerned. The Pac-12's hoops future prospects are fairly diminished with the recent exits, and the Wildcats would be an awesome fit on the Big 12 hardwood alongside recent champs in Baylor and Kansas.
Notre Dame to Big Ten OR ACC
This is perhaps the most interesting situation on the list, as the perpetually-independent Notre Dame Fighting Irish are not currently in a conference at all. Unlike other schools, Notre Dame has two conferences they could viably join. A move to the Big Ten would cap off a decades-long saga, which has involved multiple applications, although none recent. They also fit the conference extremely well in terms of geography, branding, and academics.
That being said, Notre Dame is a member of the ACC for all sports other than football and hockey, so the conference would doubtless have something to say if they tried to go elsewhere. With an enormous existing television deal and none of the pressures associated with being a member of a crumbling conference, the Irish could stand pat, they just might not want to miss out on the payday of the potential upcoming "Power-2" era, defined by the SEC and Big Ten.
Florida State and Clemson to SEC
In some ways, this move makes too much sense not to happen. Both of these schools have natural rivals within the conference (Florida and South Carolina), are prestigious football programs, and are located in SEC territory. They are more than capable of matching the level of play on the football field thanks to recent success, with Clemson recently winning a national title and Florida State likely competing for a College Football Playoff appearance this year.
The one issue is the ACC's grant of rights, which binds the member schools' media rights to the conference through 2036, and does so quite tightly.
It's hard to know exactly what penalties and costs would be incurred, and whether or not the move might be worth bearing that burden, but it looks like it's going to stay on the back burner for now, as much as both schools would like it to happen.
Miami to Big Ten
Similarly, if there's a way out of the ACC's grant of rights, Miami could also take advantage and move to the Big Ten. The conference would absolutely love to expand their profile to Florida, and establish a true "sea to shining sea" conference with squads stretching from California, New Jersey, and even Florida.
Having recently been selected to the Association of American Universities, Miami has just become an even better candidate to join a conference that prides itself not only on great football, but strong academics too. This one, like the Clemson and FSU moves, is a bit of a long shot right now, but if anything changes with the grant of rights, don't be surprised to see it happen.
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