Confusion results when conferences change this much


Published: Sunday, June 16, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, June 15, 2013 at 9:51 p.m.

It was one of those sports conversations we've had a million times sitting at the breakfast table in the old house in St. Augustine. This, that and the other. Finally, my father looked at me and asked the question he had been sitting on.

“Pat, can you do me a favor?” he asked.

Dad has been struggling lately, wracked with grief over the loss of my mom and dealing with the pain of cancer in his hip and spine. So I was ready for just about anything.

“Can you make me a sheet that tells me which teams are in what conferences now?”

It would have been easier if he had asked me to carry him on my back to the store or put a new roof on the house.

“I'll get back to you,” he said.

Now, I consider myself pretty knowledgeable when it comes to college football. But there has been so much change in the last three-plus years that I hesitated when I started to write down the conferences and which teams are now in them.

It was about four years ago that I started writing about how “The Revolution” was coming and we were about to see a major shift in the college landscape. But nobody could have seen it changing so drastically.

So I started Googling and writing and Googling and writing, and by the time I was finished my sheet of paper looked like my scorecard from Florida's 15-inning win over Nebraska in softball earlier this month. There were arrows and numbers and ampersands (although I'm not sure why), and when I picked it up the next day it made no sense to me.

But here goes anyway.

Dad, you know the SEC. It's the same 14 teams that it has been since, well, last year. It's probably going to stay that way until, uh, until it doesn't.

The ACC has 14 teams now because it added Syracuse and Pittsburgh, who were supposed to join next year but worked it out with the Big East to join this year. And, no, the ACC didn't get rid of its silly names for the divisions. Syracuse is in the Atlantic Division, and Pitt is in the Coastal. Yes, I'm aware that the Atlantic Ocean had a coast. I was just there last Sunday.

The ACC also includes Notre Dame, but not really. The Irish will play ACC teams but remain independent.

Next year, the ACC will go to 15 teams that can play for the title when it adds Louisville. This is Louisville's last season in the Big East, which is no longer the Big East in football. There are so many teams in the basketball Big East that the conference could invade Canada. But I want to stick to football here.

The Big East's football schools formed what is called the American Athletic Conference, which gets a BCS bowl berth. In addition to Louisville, SMU, Temple, Cincinnati, UConn, Houston, Memphis, UCF and USF make up the AAC. Rutgers is in there, too, but will bolt for the Big Ten next year. East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa join in 2014 and Navy the year after.

Rutgers and Maryland will both join the Big Ten next year. They saw the ACC as a sinking ship. Maryland has had to drop sports because of financial concerns, and Rutgers is the biggest mess in college sports. Nice additions, huh?

That will give the Big Ten 15 teams if you count Johns Hopkins, which is a member for lacrosse only. No, I didn't know that either until I got on my laptop.

The Big 12 has 10 teams with the additions of TCU and West Virginia last year. It is 1,485 miles from Lubbock, Texas, where Big 12 member Texas Tech is located, to Morgantown, West Va.

Neither math nor geography are big in the Big 12.

The Pac-12 has been pretty stable since adding Colorado and Utah a couple of years ago. I bet you didn't know there are five other schools who play in the Pac-12 in sports other than football. Don't try to wrap your mind around that or it will give you a headache.

I hope I cleared some of this up for you, dad, although I doubt I did. I'll bring you a spread sheet next time I come over but know you'll have to tear it up after this football season ends.

So now that we have this straight (kind of), we can turn our attention to the first weekend of the college football season where we have three huge SEC-ACC battles. Alabama and Virginia Tech play in Atlanta, Georgia is at Clemson and North Carolina is at South Carolina.

Those are big battles for supremacy in the two conferences.

At least they are for now.

Someday we may look back at them as conference games.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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