Back in the early days of college football everything was simple. Students formed clubs that eventually became teams formed by students in the same class (such as “Bloody Monday” at Harvard, a game between the Sophomore and Freshman classes). This trend also hit the university of Dartmouth and continued spreading throughout the Northeast region of the country. Meanwhile similar games were being played in the south in places like Auburn, Georgia and Virginia.
As the game developed around the country schools got tired of playing against themselves and decided to expand their horizons and start playing against other schools with football teams in the region/area. The 1st ever game between two schools took place in the state of New Jersey on November 6th 1869 when Rutgers and Princeton Universities. The two schools located just 37. 1 miles away from each other developed a series and became rivals. The following year Columbia University joined the series which prompted Yale University and Stevens Institute of Technology to form a league or an early type of conference.
As time went on football expanded to the west to the University of Michigan in 1879. What started in Ann Arbor quickly spread to places like Chicago (Chicago University and Northwestern University) and Minnesota (Minnesota University). These for schools along with Illinois , Wisconsin and Purdue formed the earliest conference, the “Western Conference” in 1896 . The conference lasted 3 years before it accepted Iowa and Indiana changing its name to the Big 9 and later the Big 10 once Ohio State joined in 1912. After a few changes like the swapping of Chicago University and Michigan State in 1949 and the addition of Penn State in 1990 the BIG 10 looked like it was done expanding until last season when they added Nebraska.
My reasoning for going into that much detail over the Big 10 is that all of the teams are in reasonable distance from each other. This not only makes it easier for the fans but also easier for the teams and it helps develop the great rivalries of today. Look at Michigan vs Ohio State for example … The states border each other which provides an automatic rivalry and with conference play it guarantees that they will always play each other every year. Here’s a look at an updated map of how conferences break down by region.
FBS Wiki Map
As you can see the colors are keys for the conference the particular school is affiliated with. For those who can’t see well here are the color codes for the conferences… ACC , Big 10 , Big 12 ,Big East , Pac 12 ,SEC , Independents, Mountain West, WAC , MAC , C-USA and Sun Belt.
Now for some more analysis… In the past weeks the talks of more conference expansion in the FBS Universe have really picked up. From the ACC to the SEC to even the idea that the BIG 12 may be coming to an end. We’ll start with the most recent report of an expansion to the Atlantic Coastal Conference and the likely acceptance of Pittsburgh and Syracuse …
Can anyone tell me where Syracuse and Pittsburgh are located ? If you said ACC Country or near other ACC schools you couldn’t have been more incorrect. Sure they’re both on the east coast but still they geographically belong where they are in the Big East conference. This wouldn’t be the 1st conference expansion move that the ACC would screw up. Back in July of 2005 the brilliant scholars who head the ACC committee/ board accepted an application from a team that wanted to join their conference. This team is located just 752 MILES away from the HQ in Greensboro, NC. That team is none other than Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass. The school qualifies for the ACC by level of competition, Academics and school size but is not in ACC Country. Although it does open up the ACC to the New England market I don’t think that the fans in the Northeast wanna see Virginia Tech play UNC or any team below or near the Mason Dixon line for that matter. I know that there are plenty of arguments for the ACC to accept Pitt and Syracuse, I mean as a fan of an ACC team like the Hokies that lives in a Syracuse market (NY) I should be loving this move but as a fan of College Football as a whole and a writer I don’t like where this whole expansion thing is headed. Which leads me to my next point the possibility of losing the BIG 12.
The BIG 12 conference had been a major power in College Football for as long as I can remember. With teams like Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. But now all 4 of those powerhouse teams may be jumping on board with the other teams who are swapping conferences. The conference has already lost 2 teams (Colorado to PAC 12 and Nebraska to BIG 10) and may be losing up to 5 or 6 more teams depending on upcoming meetings. This could mean the addition of smaller level teams like Houston,SMU , UTEP or even Tulsa. This whole thing in a way has a whole ironic twist to it ; Because the BIG 12, the conference that may be destroyed as a result of conference expansion was actually built by the falling of two major conferences in the southwest and midwest regions that it is currently made up of. All of the BIG 12’s current members either belonged to the BIG 8 conference (Oklahoma, Iowa State, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Kansas State) and the Southwest Conference (Texas,Baylor,Texas A&M and Texas Tech). So I guess it is true that what comes around does come around.
Overall as you can tell I am not the biggest supporter of Conference Expansion. I firmly believe that conferences , leagues and divisions should be based on the region/location of the school. Look at the names of conferences… PAC 12 (Pacific Athletic Conference), ACC (Atlantic Coastal Conference), BIG East (Eastern Conference). It is that reason and that reason only that I am opposed to teams joining and forming super conferences. Now that you’ve heard my side I wanna hear yours so comment and tell me if I’m right or wrong and vote in the poll provided.