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The Great Big Group of Five Conference Realignment Auction, explained

Our friends at Underdog Dynasty and Mountain West Connection are about to embark with us on a grand experiment involving your favorite Group of Five teams.

NCAA Basketball: MAC Conference Tournament Championship-Buffalo vs Toledo Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

As you well know, it’s the offseason.

Outside of Olympic sport seasons winding down and recruitment for 2019 and beyond starting up in earnest, there’s not really a lot of activity left in terms of straight-up reporting to write about. So, suffice to say, we have to find ways to keep the conversation going.

Usually, conference realignment talk is a pretty easy topic to fulfill this requirement (Lord knows last summer was full of NIU to the Big 12 talk.) But just releasing a list of likely candidates annually is starting to get a bit old, so we thought “hey, let’s get some friends involved.”

A couple years back, we at Hustle Belt did a conference realignment special in-house, starting out with one MAC school apiece and the same amount of money. The goal: getting a sporting conference made to each person’s specifications.

This latest experiment takes the idea of this in-house auction and expands on it... by adding restrictions. (It makes sense, I promise.)

Here’s how it works in a macro sense: over the month of April, five writers from three SB Nation blogs will hold a silent auction via Google Sheets. The idea will be to create, at minimum, a 10-team conference, with each current conference’s specifications in mind.

In a micro sense, these are the specific restrictions:

  • Each participant must represent a conference (i.e., Writer 1 represents the Sun Belt, while Writer 2 represents the American and so on.)
  • Each participant will receive one “free” seed team from the conference they represent. They will also receive $400 with which to bid for schools.
  • Each participant can place up to two schools for consideration at a time on the board. Eligible schools include those in the Group of Five umbrella and FCS conferences (Division 1-A). Each school must be a full member, so there are no “affiliated” schools. For the purposes of this experiment, BYU, UMass, Army and Liberty (FBS Independent schools) will be considered as “G5” schools.
  • There will be one trading period at the halfway point. Schools can be traded, but not money. After said period has expired, participants can no longer trade schools and will be stuck with their transactions.
  • Participants can choose to drop at a point they feel comfortable with the conference size, so long as the minimum 10 full members are met.

At the end of this vast experiment, we’ll publish explainers and provide maps of these reimagined conferences between here, Underdog Dynasty and Mountain West Connection, with a grand concluding roundtable where we discuss amongst each other about how the experiment went.

We hope you’ll enjoy this fun little ride and tell us your suggestions for your favorite conferences!