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Updating the Great Big Group of Five Conference Realignment Auction

It was a bit of a late start for the experiment, but two weeks in and we’ve got some big updates to churn out.

James H. Jimenez

It’s been 10 days since we started on this experiment to try and re-sort the current Group of Five conferences, and so far, the procedings have been a doozy.

(In case you don’t know the rules of the experiment, I recommend reading this primer.)

At first, the auction went at about the pace of a molasses avalance, which is to say, very slow indeed. This was due to a rule where each bidder had up to 12 hours to respond to a placed bid. There was also no restriction on when a bid could be placed, resulting in a lot of sniping.

After an agonizingly slow start and a frustration with lack of clarity, the group decided the experiment would be better served by 1) establishing hours of operation (noon to midnight EST) and 2) cutting the bid window in half from 12 hours to six. These two changes have really helped the pace of play and given the bidders a lot of room to work with in establishing conferences.

Here’s how every conference is looking thus far:

American Athletic Conference (Underdog Dynasty’s Joe Serpico)

NCAA Football: American Athletic Conference Championship-Temple vs Navy Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
  • Seed school: USF
  • Most expensive school: Houston
  • Number of schools: 7 (min, 10 max 16)
  • Money spent/left: $284/$116

It took a while for Joe to get going in our auction, as he ended up getting outbid on many of the schools he attempted to chase. Having one of his schools on the board for all 10 days didn’t exactly help matters either, limiting his ability to nominate schools he could potentially capture.

Despite all that, Joe’s gained steam, going from two schools (including his seed school) accumulated over eight days to six with a flurry of aggressive bids over the last 48 hours or so. That aggression has been rewarded, as Joe set the record for highest bid amount, throwing down a $113 bid to keep Houston in the AAC.

In terms of conference make-up, Joe seems to be going for a bit of a different plan, as only three of his seven current schools are rooted in the “original” AAC. Joe is currently averaging $48 per school and can bid up to a max of $22 per school to get to a 16-member conference.

Conference USA (Underdog Dynasty’s Tanner Spearman)

NCAA Football: North Texas at Florida Atlantic Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
  • Seed school: Marshall
  • Most expensive school: Cincinnati
  • Number of schools: 11 (min, 10 max 16)
  • Money spent/left: $255/$145

Tanner looked to assert dominance from the start and did just that, winning eight of the first 18 schools nominated, good enough for a 44.4 percent success rate, and he doesn’t lack for prizes.

Tanner walked away with one of the earliest prizes in Cincinnati, and has done a wonderful job of retaining “original” CUSA members while enhancing its geographical footprint with some intriguing options. Four of his nine current squads are from the “original” CUSA, while two of the other five schools are former members.

He’s managed to pick his punches fairly decently as well, spending $25 per school bought, giving him a decent amount of money to play with in the latter half, as he can spend up to $37 to sport a 16-team conference.

Mid-American Conference (Hustle Belt)

MAC Championship - Akron v Toledo Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images
  • Seed school: Central Michigan
  • Most expensive school: Ohio
  • Number of schools: 13 (min, 10 max 16)
  • Money spent/left: $152/$248

It’s kind of odd to talk about yourself in the indirect tense, but I’ll do my best to offer some unbiased analysis of the Hustle Belt auction class thus far.

The original plan was scuttlebutted from the start, as two of the other conference’s representatives made plays for schools the MAC’s conference leader wanted. Alas, it’s not in too bad of shape, as the MAC rep has put down bids for schools early and often. The re-shaped MAC currently stands at 13 of a possible 16 members and is already serving some potential intrigue from a geographic standpoint, expanding primarily into the west and southeast.

It currently houses nine of the “original” MAC’s twelve current members, keeping intact key rivalries while adding four new schools with the potential to create new ones. The Belt has been relatively stingey, which has admitedly cost it some good schools, but they’re in the ebst position for success later on, as they can spend up to $83 to fill each of its remaining three spots.

Mountain West Conference (Mountain West Connection’s Mike Wittman)

Mountain West Championship - Air Force v San Diego State Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images
  • Seed school: Boise State
  • Most expensive school: Memphis
  • Number of schools: 12 (min, 10 max 16)
  • Money spent/left: $194/$206

The Mountain West Conference was always going to be a bit of a challenge, due to the fact that it’s “original” is so far away from the rest of its peer conferences.

It’s also in the most unique spot, as Mike has the opportunity to define how far East “West” can extend to in his eyes. So far, he’s stayed largely on script in terms of keeping its “original” members, as eight of his 12 schools are currently in the MWC. He’s also added a certain former member and some intriguing additions from fellow conferences.

Right now, he’s doing all right for himself, going down the thrifty road and pulling out the big bucks for schools which he felt could really stomp down the footprint for his conference. It’s been fairly efficient, too, as he’s only spent an average of $19 per school thus far. He can use $51 per school to fill in his remaining four bids.

Sun Belt Conference (Underdog Dynasty’s Cyrus Smith)

Arkansas State v Georgia Southern Photo by Todd Bennett/Getty Images
  • Seed school: App State
  • Most expensive school: N/A
  • Number of schools: 1 (min, 10 max 16)
  • Money spent/left: $0/$400

Maybe the Sun Belt is a second-half squad.

The first half of this experiment hasn’t gone so well for the Sun Belt, but not for lack of trying. After a late start, Cyrus went after a few of the bigger-ticket schools before withdrawing consideration when the schools got a bit out of range.

Right now, he has the one current member, but he’s lost one of the “original” conference’s most important member schools in Arkansas State. Cyrus also lost out on some potential FCS schools as well, but there’s still time to rally for him. Two of the conferences are over 10 members and two conferences are reaching the minimum, presenting an opportunity for Cyrus to really make noise in the latter half of the auction by forcing other bidders to make decisions about their conference makeups.

So, what now?

Originally, the plan was to hold a trading period around this time to swap schools between members. However, since one conference does not have any trade assets, that period will be saved for the end of the auction. The auction will end if 1) all rosters reach 16 schools, 2) when all rosters run out of money, or 3) the bidders all agree to end bidding.

After that, we’ll post individual updates between each of the three blogs and then reassemble as a group to talk about the experiment and how it went down.

Be sure to stay tuned to here, Underdog Dynasty and Mountain West Connection for updates on the project!