Re-alignment series: like it or not, conference footprints have gotten much larger.


The worst part of conference re-shuffling has been the loss of geographical rivalries.

There is a reason that the high schools in Des Moines play each other instead of those in Waterloo. There is a reason the Lakers share a division with the Clippers, Warriors, Kings and Suns instead of the Cavaliers and Heat. There is a reason the Broncos don’t join a division with the Vikings, Bears, Packers and Lions.

Geographical proximity strengthens rivalries.

Here is the breakdown of the average distances new conference members are from other campuses in the leagues they are / have joined:

1.    ACC (623.5 miles) – Pitt (546), Syracuse (701 miles)

2.    Big Ten (626) – Nebraska (626)

3.    SEC (707.5) – Missouri (642), Texas A&M (773)

4.    Big 12 (800.5) – TCU (449), West Virginia (1,152)

5.    Pac-12 (907) – Utah (724), Colorado (1,090)

6.    Big East (1,554) – SMU 1,157), Houston (1,212), UCF (1,248), Boise State (2,062) and San Diego State (2,089)

The average distance to travel for the new members in the ACC, Big Ten, SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12 are similar. The outlier is the Big East. Like it or not, larger conference footprints is a fact that every league has accepted.

In the last installment of this series on re-alignment Friday, we’ll look at football program “brands”.

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