Warning: If you don’t care about college football, you’ll want to ignore this post.
While mowing my lawn this Labor Day morning, just after the finest opening weekend of football season ever, I started daydreaming. Conference realignment is the big topic these days; my own Houston Cougars are waiting anxiously to see if they will be welcomed back into the ranks of football’s privileged class after wandering in the wilderness for twenty years (I think most observers think that they will, unless the Big 12 is collectively stupid or scared, or both). But if I could be Lord High Commissioner of College Football, I would create a conference that would rival the SEC for quality of teams, passion of fans, and intensity of its rivalries. This conference would make sense geographically, with drivable road games for everyone, and alumni of the various schools who live and work near each other. I don’t know what it would be called…As Lord High Commissioner, I would delegate that task to some creative underling. But I know who it would include:
Houston, of course. With more on-campus beds than any university in Texas aside from UT, a beautiful new stadium that can easily be expanded to 60,000, and an administration that finally sees the university’s true potential, this isn’t the UH I attended. The results—on the field and in the stands—speak for themselves.
Texas A&M and Texas. These two programs should play each other every year. The fact that they currently do not is a sign of how ridiculous college football is today. Bring back the rivalry.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. OU is one of the winningest programs in college football history. OSU was once a stepchild in its own state, but has been strong for over a decade now.
Arkansas and LSU. Yes, I know these two would never leave the SEC, but this is my daydream, not reality. Hog fans may not want to admit it, but their best years were when they played in the Southwest Conference, against Texas schools. As for LSU, they are always in the National Championship conversation. And I’d love to make the drive to watch my Coogs play in Death Valley, enjoying a lot of good Louisiana food along the way there and back.
TCU and SMU. TCU was terrible for years, but they’ve won more games than any other school in Texas over the last decade (Guess who is second? I’ll give you a hint…it starts with U and ends with H). SMU has never really recovered from their Death Penalty in the 1980s. But they certainly have the financial resources to build a successful program. And I love the idea of keeping the Dallas-Houston rivalry alive.
Texas Tech and Baylor. It has to be hard for Tech coaches to convince elite athletes to spend four years on the South Plains, but they’ve been consistently competitive and often entertaining since the SWC broke up twenty years ago. And Baylor has some rebuilding to do after the horrid lack of control they have had over their players during their unprecedented run of recent success. Here’s hoping they do. I would love to see Baylor live up to its evangelical principles while excelling in sports…I believe it can be done.
Rice. The SEC has Vanderbilt, the ACC has Duke, the Big 10 has Northwestern, and the Pac 12 has Stanford. It’s good for conferences to have a small, scrappy private school with great academics. It raises the academic expectations of everyone else, and it’s a thrill when they upset one of the big boys. Plus, Stanford has shown that this kind of school can become a football power under the right circumstances. And on a personal level, Rice Stadium is where I had my first date with my wife. I love going back there. And I may be in the minority here, but I find the MOB hilarious. Especially when they annoy entitled fan bases, of which there are a few in this conference.
Here’s how the conference would stack up:
Rice Texas Tech
Texas A&M Texas
Arkansas Oklahoma St
They would have an 8 game conference schedule. Each team would play all the teams in their division, plus three in the opposite division, including one crossover game they play every year. I’ve listed them with their crossover games above. So Texas and A&M would play every year, Houston and SMU, etc. As a football fan, especially one who lives in Texas and grew up watching SWC games on TV, this would be heaven. It would be better than the old SWC, because most of the Texas schools are far stronger than they were back then, plus LSU, Oklahoma and OSU would add tremendous strength. There would be multiple fantastic games every week.
Anyhow, that’s the way it would be…if I were in charge. What do you think? What would your ideal conference look like?