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Conference Realignment Revisited

We've got realignment fever! Here lie wild guesses about how the latest conference shake-ups could change the look of the MAC.

Cincinnati-Toledo could be a conference game someday
Cincinnati-Toledo could be a conference game someday

We find ourselves, following yesterday's "Louisville to the ACC" news, in a world where there will soon be at least three BCS conferences of 14 teams. It is not inconceivable that the Pac-12 will also make a move soon to join the superconference race. Of course, nothing is inconceivable in college football these days. Hell, the MAC may be sending a team to a BCS bowl!

If nothing is inconceivable, it must be possible that the MAC may join in this domino effect. As usual, the conference has been quiet and content. And why shouldn't it be? It is by far the most stable conference of the "Group of Five" (still the worst sports-related name ever), and you can make an argument that the MAC have a more certain future than the Big 12.

So, keeping in mind that speculation is the lifeblood of the interwebs, let's take a look at which FBS schools might but probably won't cross the MAC radar within the next however many months.

The Artist Formerly Known As The Big East

  • Cincinnati - This one probably makes the most sense out of any. It might also make the least. UC was a founding member of the conference until 1953 plus half of the MAC is Ohio already, both of which could either be a benefit or hinderance to a potential reunion. If the Big East crumbles, which remains a possibility masked by their "come one, come all" attitude, Cincinnati will be looking for a new home. With many potential regional foes, the MAC could step in to save Cincy's day.
  • Connecticut - Maybe not as crazy as it looks. Like with Cincinnati, this would probably be dependent on the dissolution or complete transformation of the current Big East, as UConn would be hard pressed to leave their hoops league for any conference not named the Atlantic Coast. However, given the discussion of a possible football-basketball conference split, a football-only invite and natural geographic rival wouldn't be the wildest resolution in the world.
  • Temple

Old Flames

  • Marshall - It makes sense geographically, and the Big East is eating Conference USA faster than my entire family ate two turkeys last Thursday. Who knows where CUSA will stand in a year or two? What are the odds we see a third edition of a Marshall-occupied MAC?
  • Temple

Geography Bee Champions

  • Western Kentucky - Think about it! The Battle of the Bowling Greens! WKU currently plays in the Sun Belt, a conference which has been bleeding teams to CUSA recently. The Hilltoppers would be the southernmost school in the conference, but still at least as close to 10 other MAC schools as Buffalo is to Gillette Stadium. And who doesn't want a team in their conference called the Hilltoppers?
  • Middle Tennessee State - Only two hours down the highway from WKU, the Blue Raiders already suffer from realignment fever. MTSU would immediately have the second-largest stadium in the conference and the MAC would suddenly be reaching into SEC country. It would be interesting to see how that would affect conference recruiting, but Middle Tennessee would have to pull a TCU for it to happen.
  • Army - I don't have many thoughts about this other than they are within the current MAC footprint, are independent, and have as much of a pull on the New York market as Rutgers. Hey, if it works for the Big Ten...

Wild Reaches

  • Iowa State, Kansas - The scenario would have to play out something like this: the Pac-12 sees six conferences with more teams than them, becomes angry that it isn't the only conference with a "12" in its name, grows horns, and presents a Godfather offer to some four-team combination including Texas and Oklahoma. The Pac-12 becomes the first 16-team superconference and is directly responsible for the death of the Big 12, whose orphans are snatched up by surrounding conferences such as the MAC, Big Ten, and SEC.

Just kidding. They'll all be in the Big East.