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The edge of college football’s next Big Bang

With news over the weekend that USC and UCLA would depart the Pac-12 for the Big Ten, college football is poised to undergo a major facelift over the next decade via conference realignment. We’ve seen big-time blue bloods jump ship for other conferences before, but this time it hits different.

We are standing at the edge of college football’s next Big Bang.

Before we begin, please note that while the Big Ten conference’s actual name is stylized as B1G. I guess the “1G” is supposed to look like the number 10. This article will not entertain this marketing and branding atrocity.

It may seem silly to imagine two California teams playing in the same divisions as Midwestern squads such as Iowa or Minnesota. It’s important to remember that the Big Ten has had at least 11 teams since 1993. They also welcomed two teams planted firmly outside Big Ten territory a few years back.

Everything is silly. Especially forcing college students to travel from Los Angeles to Piscataway, N.J., to play an in-conference volleyball game. Yes, there are sports other than football, but they don’t make as much money and we don’t like to think about that.

USC’s and UCLA’s announcement came almost a year to the day that Big 12 flagship teams Texas and Oklahoma would leave for the SEC in 2024. It took only a few hours for all five major conferences to put out both public and private overtures to teams to jump ship, and vise versa. It’s all happening quickly, and you can bet that all Power 5 conferences are scrambling to lock down more teams to have them in place in the next two years.

So how does this all shake out? Let’s dream for a moment.

After Oklahoma, Texas, UCLA and USC make their moves, the SEC and Big Ten will include 16 teams each. 20-team conferences seem to be the goal as realignment recruiting continues. Popular speculation holds that the SEC is going after Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech from the ACC.

For the Big Ten, nothing will likely happen until Notre Dame decides to join or to stay independent. From there, it would make most sense for Oregon and Washington to enter the fold. Let’s throw Stanford in there as well.  They already have a rivalry with the Irish. So does Purdue, Pittsburgh, Michigan, Michigan State and Northwestern. Why isn’t Notre Dame in the Big Ten already, again?

Assuming the SEC and Big Ten race to that 20-team level or beyond, what the heck happens to the Pac 12, Big 12 and ACC? There are three potential outcomes. The other Power 5 conferences will either merge, fold or scramble to add “lesser” teams to their roster. The Big 12 could merge with the Pac 12. The ACC could turn everything upside down and bring in some of the more successful FCS teams such as North Dakota State or James Madison.

Conference realignment has happened before, but there was always an end to the story in sight. We don’t know if this story ends with two super-conferences or college football splitting into multiple leagues.

We’re at the edge of seismic changes to college football, and it’s actually kind of exciting. We’ll see new rivalries, more parity and, graciously, more topics to write about in the offseason.

What did we get wrong? Let us know on Twitter or Instagram, and take a listen below to this week’s episode of Throw the Flag.

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