READ THIS BEFORE YOU START –> I know a lot of this information regarding college football is redundant and simple to some of you but this is meant to be informational for some that don’t know the history of the sport. The timelines are hard to stick with and bounce all over the place but I hope this helps you make sense of everything going on. Listen guys, please don’t blast me in the comments. I started working on this like last week and I know that everything is absolutely crazy with the Pac-12 right now. I haven’t added any Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, Oregon State, Washington State, Cal, Stanford stuff here.

06:58 update –> Pac-12 is screwed.


START HERE –> Many years ago the world had mostly terrible people but great conquerors such as Alexander The Great, The British, Darth Vader, Napoleon, Nicholas II, Genghis Khan, Constantine, and many others. As time passed on and these dynasties fell, their legacies lived on for eternity. After forming their own land and having to conduct a little expansion of their own, the US gave us what we all needed… the greatest sport ever invented. Over time we’ve seen many things change in our beloved college football landscape and it’s hard right now to imagine what’s next but history repeats history is a saying that I choose to believe in. I’ll leave you with a quote from one of the best comedy movies in recent memory to help explain how this story will be told.

“I think the best way to tell the story is by starting at the end, briefly, then going back to the beginning, and then periodically returning to the end, maybe giving different characters’ perspectives throughout.” – David Pershon in The Other Guys (2010)

Table of Contents
The College Football Playoff Era
Current Conferences
2014-2022 Realignment
2023 and Beyond Realignment
Going Back to the Beginning
The Western Conference
Other Major Conferences
Splits, Mergers, Acquisitions, The Creation Of The FBS and The P5 As We Know It
The SEC and ACC
The Southwest Conference and The Big Eight Conference
The Pacific Coast Conference
The Birth of the FBS
Pre-BCS Death, Then Death, More Death, Murdering Basketball, Some Expansion Though, Rebirth, And A Super Conference
College Football Association
Death of the Southwest Conference
Death of Independence
Penn State
Florida State
SEC Expansion
The First Super Conference Attempt and The Murder of Basketball
The Metro
The Big East
The Computer-Generated Ranking National Championship Series
Creation of the BCS
Conference Realignment
Mountain West Conference (WAC Split)
Sun Belt Conference
Big East Split
Actual Murder of Basketball
New Football Conference YAY
Big 12-8-10 and Pac-10-12 and Big-10-11-12-14
Back To The Present And Where Do We Go From Here?
Conference Realignment Draft
Current FBS Members and Conferences Timeline
Future FBS Teams
Former FBS Teams

The College Football Playoff Era (2014 to Present Day)

Current Conferences
Currently, there are ten total conferences consisting of the Power 5 (SEC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, PAC 12), Group of 5 (AAC, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt), and a small group of FBS Independents. The last eight years college football has had a four-team playoff that will end after this season before expanding to twelve teams starting in 2024. The format for the twelve-team playoff will include automatic bids for the top six rated conference champions and at-large bids for the remaining six highest-ranked teams regardless if they win their conference championship or not.

Conferences used to be a largely regional concept but today when looking for membership teams look for something similar to what Roman emperors used to provide for their people. Almost all of these can be translated to today’s game in a consensus authority (conference commissioner), economic stability (TV deals), social advancement (similar institutions), and continued growth/dominance (expansion/playoff aspirations). Traditional rivalries have seized to exist in the eyes of the universities and is a total non-factor.

Since the start of 2014 we have seen many teams move in the FBS and nine teams jump up from the FBS level. Several other changes are on the horizon as well through 2025 and it is changing rapidly. I’m only listing Power 5 changes but massive changes have taken place in the Sun Belt, AAC, and Conference USA.

2014-2022 Realignment
2014 Season – Louisville to the ACC (11/28/2012)
2014 Season – Rutgers to the Big Ten (11/20/2012)
2014 Season – Maryland to the Big Ten (11/20/2012)

2023 and Beyond Realignment
2023 Season – BYU to the Big 12 (06/10/2022)
2023 Season – Cincinnati to the Big 12 (06/10/2022)
2023 Season – Houston to the Big 12 (06/10/2022)
2023 Season – UCF to the Big 12 (06/10/2022)
2024 Season – Texas to the SEC (02/09/2022)
2024 Season – Oklahoma to the SEC (02/09/2022)
2024 Season – UCLA to the Big 10 (06/30/2022)
2024 Season – USC to the Big 10 (06/30/2022)
2024 Season – Colorado to the Big 12 (07/27/2023)

Colorado making the decision to jump to the Big 12 further puts the future of the Pac 12 in jeopardy as the conference doesn’t have a TV deal locked up after USC and UCLA depart after the 2023 season. Lmao, I wrote that last sentence on FRIGGIN TUESDAY, and look at us now. As we stated before the purpose of the conferences is to provide stability, growth, and social advancement for the universities and the easiest way to do so is justifying whichever conference provides the most money through their TV deal. Below is the payouts for each school through their conferences’ current and upcoming TV deal. It’s changing by the day but right now we are all on realignment watch right now.

“Going Back to the Beginning – The Formative Years”

Rutgers faced Yale in 1869 marking the first ever collegiate college football game but the sport was still just developing and conferences weren’t formed. Long story short, nobody really knew what they were doing. The sport was loosely based on rugby and needed guidance which lead to the formation of the Intercollegiate Football Association. The group was founded by Princeton, Yale, and Rutgers and you might know them today as the Ivy League. Like I said before the sport needed guidance, and honestly, it was a mess.

In 1880 Walter Camp implemented a set of rules that would make the sport what it is today such as having a line of scrimmage, having a center and quarterback, and having a set of downs. At the time it was 3 downs to go 5 yards. I’m getting off track here, but this helps paint the picture of how primitive the game of football once was. Now, back to conference realignment.

Up until the 1893 season the sport was largely comprised of independents set up in regions and some small conferences that consisted of schools in the same state like the Colorado Football Association and some smaller regional conferences like the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the Northwest and the Western Interstate University Football. Of the 153 teams making up the sport at the end of the 1893 season, only 50 are what we see in the FBS today. Not too much empire-building in the 19th century with the sport just starting to figure out what it is but we’ll get into that soon.

Conferences Really Start Forming For The First Time

In between 1895 and 1896, two major conferences were born that would change the sport forever. These two conferences would actually turn into what we know as three of today’s power five conferences. It still wasn’t full on Genghis Khan in the beginning where conferences just tried to grab a team as far as they could reach. The two big conferences stayed fairly regional and the two we are talking about are the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) and the Western Conference.

We’ll start with the SIAA. The SIAA actually stayed intact until 1942 but most of the original and soon-after core members were gone by then. The original members were Alabama, Auburn, UGA, Johns Hopkins, UNC, Sewanee, Vanderbilt, and Virginia. Funny enough, UNC and Virginia would leave before the start of the inaugural season and UNC would join back again four years later. In their second year, the SIAA added more schools, most notably Clemson, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi A&M (now Mississippi State), Texas, and Tulane. The SIAA had 72 different members (27 of what we call FBS schools today) and finally folded in 1942 due to the environment around World War II.

The Western Conference
Moving on to the Western Conference or as you may know it today, The Big Ten. It wasn’t always the Big Ten and originally had 8 teams with Chicago, Illinois, Lake Forest College, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, and Wisconsin after forming in 1896. It didn’t take long for Lake Forest to drop out. Iowa and Indiana joined the conference in 1899 officially making it nine teams again. Michigan left the conference to be an independent after about ten years and the conference was renamed the Big Eight before adding Ohio State in 1912. Michigan would join again in 1917 officially making it the Big Ten but the University of Chicago would drop out during World War II making the conference the Big Nine again before Michigan State joined in 1949 to make it the Big Ten. Quite possibly the most consistent conference of the 1900s, the Big Ten would hold the same members for the foreseeable future. So for us dummies… Western Conference (eight teams) –> Big Ten –> Big Nine –> Big Ten –> Big Ten with 11 members.

Other Major Conferences
Other major conferences established during this time were the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association and the Pacific Coast Conference. The MVIAA which you know today as the Missouri Valley Conference was created in 1907. The original members were Drake, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Iowa State, and Washington University. Iowa left after a year to join the Big Ten (Big Nine, whatever) but soon after Grinnell College, Kansas State, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State all joined. The Pacific Coast Conference was created in 1915 with only four original members. Those four were Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, and Washington. Over the next 12 years, the conference expanded with Idaho, Montana, Stanford, USC, UCLA, and Washington State. With their new partnership, we also had the first-ever conference pairings with the Rose Bowl as the PCC would send a member to play in the classic every year up until their dismemberment in 1948 but we will get to that later. Two other major players at the time were the Border Conference and the Skyline Conference. The Border Conference was founded in 1931 and would consist of the far west Texas schools such as UTEP and Texas Tech as well as the New Mexico and Arizona universities. Founded in 1937, the Skyline Conference consisted of the Utah and Colorado schools plus some of the other mountainous programs like Montana and Wyoming.

Splits, Mergers, Acquisitions, The Creation Of The FBS and The Power 5 As We Know It

The SEC and The ACC
Where were we? Oh yeah, it’s the roaring 20’s BABY! Remember the SIAA? The gang has decided to break up as the teams couldn’t get along on rules as far as freshman players being allowed to play and the conference as whole wasn’t doing much so some certain teams decided to form a new conference in 1921 called the Southern Conference (SoCon). Still staying pretty damn regional here. SIAA members Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, UGA, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Mississippi State, and Tennessee left and pulled Maryland, UNC, NC State, UVA, Virginia Tech, plus Washington and Lee from the “South Atlantic Intercollegiate Athletic Association.” Sounds like another conference a lot of us know but thank the lord they decided to shorten these conference names. The SoCon is still a very strong FCS conference today but will go down in history as being the starting mark for two of the P5 conferences we see today. Alabama, Auburn, Florida, UGA, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Sewanee, Tennessee, Tulane, and Vanderbilt would all go on to form the SEC in 1932. Sewanee clearly couldn’t keep up with the public programs and left the conference in 1940 and is a D3 school today but all of these teams have stayed put since the creation of the SEC besides Tulane and Georgia Tech. Most of the SoCon would hang around until 1953 when some of the other schools would join what we know as the Atlantic Coast Conference, ever heard of it? The charter members for the ACC were Clemson, Duke, Maryland, UNC, NC State, South Carolina, Virginia, and Wake Forest. This turned out to be quite a steady membership as well as the ACC did not have any membership changes until 1971.

Just to put into perspective, in the last year of the SIAA in 1941 the conference fielded 31 football teams after the departures of all the schools we’ve talked about. Only 8 of those are what we call FBS programs today and only two of those are P5 programs.

The Southwest Conference and The Big Eight
A little more SIAA talk. Texas and Texas A&M would leave the SIAA in 1915 to join the Southwest Conference with other regional schools. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were members for a couple years before joining their more regional foes in the MVIAA. In 1927 we had a huge split from the MVIAA when the newly formed “Big Six Conference” charter members Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma split apart from the MVIAA leaving Drake, Grinnell, Oklahoma State, and Washington to form the Missouri Valley Conference. They would remain the Big Six until Colorado left the Skyline Conference in 1947 and would be the Big Seven until Oklahoma State rejoined in 1957 to officially make it the Big Eight where it remained for almost 40 years. Jumping to the Southwest Conference really quick. We talked about Oklahoma and Oklahoma State leaving and much like Sewanee in the SEC, smaller schools like Southwestern and Phillips could not compete with the larger universities. Membership in the conference and from 1923 until 1956 membership remained the same with Baylor, Rice, Texas, Texas A&M, SMU, TCU, plus the only non-Texas member Arkansas. Texas Tech would join in 1957 after leaving the Border Conference and after a stint in the MVC, Houston would break their independence in 1972. Much like the Pacific Coast Conference with the Rose Bowl, the SWC would appoint a team to play in the Cotton Bowl every year starting in 1940. Both the Big 8 and SWC would prove to be powerhouse conferences as they would claim a national champion 27 times from 1927 to 1978.

The Pacific Coast Conference Dissolves
Okay, let’s get it straight here. This probably became the most heated conference as far as rivalries go, both on and off the football field, particularly by regionality of the conference (Southern California, Northern California, Pacific Northwest). The conference had some strict standards and much like the NCAA of recent many claims of cheating came throughout the time of the conferences existence. We’ll start with USC in 1923 and them being accused of cheating. The Northern California schools accused USC of cheating by providing extra benefits for players. USC was suspended for 1924 and returned the following season with the conference returning to normal. Going back to the regional hate. At one point it was even proposed that the California schools create their own California conference over their amount of disgust for the Pac Northwest universities. This didn’t happen but it was still something that happened. During this time there were several advantages and disadvantages between the northwest and California schools so a private investigator named Edwin Atherton to conduct an investigation. Long story short the investigation report resulted in lots of pressure to make recruits to sign with certain schools by intimidation, players being provided jobs at schools and not actually working, reduced rates for students, etc. The conference needed a change and Atherton actually was hired as commissioner and as a result the conference had a governing body to help reform the mess. Atherton soon passed away and his assistant commissioner was promoted. College sports were changing after WWII and bigger programs were reaping better benefits than most of the smaller schools. Despite all the work another scandal arose in 1956 with coaches having slush funds for players. It ended up being a ton of finger pointing and another new commissioner was brought in to clean up the mess but it was just too late. After the 1958 season the conference would dissolve but with death comes rebirth. A new conference was born in the Athletic Association of Western Universities, just another damn long name. The charter members were California, Stanford, UCLA, USC, and Washington. After being independent for a couple of years Washington State would join in 1962 with Oregon and Oregon State following in 1964. So we went from a conference that had dubbed itself the Big Five to when they added Washington State being dubbed the Big Six. When the Oregon schools came on board someone finally made a smart decision and they rebranded as the Pacific Athletic Conference and eventually the Pacific-8. They would have probably tried the Big Eight but there already was one of those. Poor Idaho never even got an invite and moved on to be an independent for a while and Montana had already left the PCC after WWII as they couldn’t keep up with the larger schools. The Pacific-8 only ever expanded one time when they welcomed both Arizona and Arizona State in 1978. We had a little bit before about the Border Conference but they had ceased to exist after 1962 and the Arizona schools were actually coming over from a little school we know today as the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). At the time the WAC had both Arizona schools, BYU, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado State, and UTEP. They would soon add San Diego State, Hawai’i, and Air Force just a few years later. Anyways, the Pac-10 would keep this same membership for a long time but we will touch on that later.

The Birth of the FBS
1978 brought big change to the college landscape as the NCAA split into Division I (FBS) and Division I-AA (FCS). At the start of the season there were 13 conferences along with a large amount of still independent programs. The leagues were the ACC, Big Eight, Big Ten, Ivy League, MAC, Missouri Valley, Pacific Coast Athletic Association, Pac-10, SEC, SoCon, Southland, Southwest Conference, WAC, and 32 teams remained independent out of a total of 139 teams. By 1982 we saw a large amount of programs move down to the FCS level. The entire Ivy Leage, SoCon, Southland (except SW Louisiana AKA UL-Lafayette), most of the Missouri Valley (except NM State, Tulsa, and Wichita State), and independents Colgate, Holy Cross, NE Louisiana, North Texas, Richmond, UNLV, and William & Mary. By this point the league had already decreased from 139 down to 111 teams and out of the 111 only 22 found themselves remaining as independents. Mostly after this point teams dropping down to the FCS level was done but some teams like Wichita State dropped their football programs all together. For a full list of defunct programs jump to the bottom.

Pre-BCS Death, Then Death, More Death, Murdering Basketball, Some Expansion Though, Rebirth, And A Super Conference

“YOU LIKE THAT?” – Kirk Cousins. Did that heading pop out to you? Which death do you want to start with? Okay, I’ll choose.

College Football Association TV Deals
Now we will be talking about media deals here for a little bit. Once upon a time, the 1950’s to be exact the NCAA controlled all of the college football media rights. In 1977 the CFA was created as the schools felt the NCAA was pushing everyone around in a large power grab. The CFA was created by the ACC, Big Eight, SEC, SWAC, WAC, and a group of independents in order to help schools negotiate media deals due to the rise of cable programs being able to display games. The NCAA did fight back and threatened sanctions on schools participating in the media deals formed by the CFA, in particular Oklahoma and Georgia. This led to a supreme court case in 1984 called the NCAA v. Board of Regents of University of Oklahoma and eventually the ruling was that the NCAA was violating antitrust laws. The conferences were now allowed to negotiate contracts on their own behalf and immediately some conferences cut deals with CBS and ABC. The CFA dissolved in 1997 after conferences began to quite simply take things into their own hands as you see today.

Death of the Southwest Conference
The 1980’s were pretty tough for the SWC. SMU received the death penalty in 1987 and all of the programs besides Arkansas, Baylor, and Rice were on probation at some point in time. I’m not going to go too deep into the scandals, you can look those up on your own if you want but shady business had become the norm. Probation limited teams to appear on television per a rule from the NCAA and with the CFA as we just talked about selling off media deals for the Big Ten and Pac-10 the SWC was being left behind. Arkansas would eventually leave the conference in 1990 and it was all downhill from their. Jumping forward to 1994, the SEC announced they would also leave the CFA leaving media rights causing for the SWC to have their first realignment since the early 1900’s. In 1994 Baylor, Texas, Texas, and Texas A&M would all leave to join the Big 8 making it what we know today as the Big 12. Although the invitation was accepted in 1994 they would start play during the 1996 season. TCU, Rice, and SMU would move on to join the WAC and Houston would join Conference USA. After over 90 years of being together the SWC was officially done.

Death to Independence
Penn State
Probably the biggest move in conference realignment history is Penn State joining the Big 10. Penn State was considered a national powerhouse and the program had been very successful compiling a 91-28 record in the 1980’s alone with a couple of national championships to go along with it. In 1990 for the first time since Michigan State joined in 1949 the Big Ten voted on expansion and Penn State was officially to begin play in the Big Ten starting in the 1993 season. Now they have 11 teams but they’re still called the Big Ten. The commissioner at the time said the name change to the Big 11 would come within a couple of months of Penn State joining but never did but they did embed an eleven in the conference logo at some point. Like the title says, this was probably the biggest conference change in the history of the sport and marked the death of all independents not named Notre Dame (ACC adjacent forehead) but we will get to the rest of that soon.

Florida State
You can argue it’s the biggest move ever but it doesn’t top Penn State in my eyes. Florida State just three months after the decision for Penn State decides to leave independence forever and join the ACC after a massive snub of the SEC. Much like Penn State the Bowden led Seminoles were a powerhouse in the 80’s compiling a 88-31 record and while they didn’t claim any national championships in the 80’s it wouldn’t take long for them to grab one. History says conference commissioners were paying visits to the program for months leading up to their decision to join the ACC that one can only imagine amounted to sums larger than an Manning family visit to Austin. SEC folk were not happy with the decision as Florida State has long seemed to be a perfect fit. Check out this article by everyone’s favorite (/s) reporter Paul Finebaum from when he was still at the Birmingham Post-Herald. FSU has remained in the ACC since their first season in 1992 but look at the environment today if you need any insight on how they feel about it today.

So just like that independence was soon breaking and the two of the best football teams in the nation were officially in a conference for the first time since college football was created.

SEC Expansion
1990 would mark the first time that the SEC saw any expansion since their conception in 1932. They had some teams leave during their time with Suwanee and Tulane not being able to keep up with the bigger programs. Georgia Tech couldn’t play ball and agree to rules with other members and remained independent until they would eventually join the ACC in 1983. Funniest quote of the day is Georgia Tech coach Bobby Dodd saying “Tech stands to make a considerable financial gain financially by its withdrawal from the conference,” on his way out the door. Enter in the newcomers with Arkansas and South Carolina. You just heard about the difficulties Arkansas had with the SWC so no need to touch on that. South Carolina, now independent since leaving the ACC in 1970 after having disputes with a lot of the tobacco road schools over bias would also join, officially bringing the total size of the SEC to 12 teams.

The First Super Conference Attempt and The Murder of Basketball
The Metro
Have you ever heard of the Metro Conference? Founded in 1975 it originally had six members that were all centered in urban metro areas. I will say this conference was a non-football conference and all the schools had an independent or were non-football schools at the time. The charter members were Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Memphis, Saint Louis, and Tulane. The Metro had never, at least publicly planned to sponsor football but over years they had some other big name programs join in other sports. Florida State would join in 1976 and remain a member up until they absolutely snubbed the SEC to join the ACC in 1991 with what was probably the second largest move in history behind Penn State. Virginia Tech would join in 1979 and remain an independent football program until they left in 1991 as well. South Carolina was originally invited but wanted to rejoin the ACC, actually joined the Metro in 1983 up until their SEC departure at the end of 1991. Some other small schools would join after the departure of the big dogs in Charlotte, VCU, and South Florida and eventually in 1995 The Metro merged with the Great Midwest Conference to create CONFERENCE USA (USA! USA! USA!) We haven’t talked about the Great Midwest at all and it was a small conference so I’ll just rattle off the six teams who were Cincinnati, Dayton, DePaul, Marquette, Memphis, Saint Louis, and UAB. With independence becoming a thing of the past, the creation of Conference USA was almost completely centered around forming a conference to keep some larger members from swaying to the larger and more successful conferences. Conference USA still retained a large basketball presence by keeping UAB (FCS at the time), DePaul, Marquette, Charlotte (No football program until 2013), and Saint Louis. The first season of football was played in 1996 with the only FBS programs being Houston who had just come from the dissolved SWC, Southern Miss, Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis, and Tulane. The first attempt at a super conference was official as Conference USA spread all the way from Florida to Wisconsin and down to Texas. Unfortunately of all the teams that had joined in the 1990s, not a single program remains with the conference today.

The Big East
The Big East was very similar in a lot of ways to The Metro and was formed in 1979. They were a basketball heavy conference with their football schools remaining independent. The original members were Boston College, UConn, Georgetown, Providence, St. Johns, Seton Hall, and Syracuse with Villanova coming over one year later. Pittsburgh would join in 1982 as well. So of these nine members, only four fielded FBS football teams and all had been Independents since their program inception. Just really quick, during the 1980’s we had five final four appearances from the Metro with Louisville winning two national championships and on the Big East side there were 10 final four appearances with Villanova and Georgetown both winning a national championship. Basketball was king and these conferences combining for almost half of the final four appearances and championships in one decade should be enough to show that.

After ten years of play the Big East had decided to expand into football in what would ultimately become the downfall of the conference. It’s been told that football would be the death of the Big East but pressure was on to keep long history programs like Pittsburgh, BC, and Syracuse around. Some members seemed to know this from the jump as Penn State once again was a shadow on the landscape after breaking independence to join the Big Ten and had actually applied to join the Big East in the early 80’s but three of the non-football schools voted against them joining. Some of the newcomers did not gain initial entry to all sports but were good to go for the inaugural football season in 1991. Those new members were Miami, Rutgers, Temple, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia joining Boston College, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse for football. Grabbing Miami to join saved the conference as a whole (at the time). The Canes won three national titles in the 1980s and were literally the defending national champions at the time of their acceptance, and would go on to win the 1991 national title in the first year of Big East play. No other changes would be made to the football landscape of the Big East until well until the BCS era. The conference lives on today but no longer sponsors any football programs but we can get into that in the next segment. Football literally killed the Big East. 30 for 30 did a great documentary on this and you can watch it here with login info or rent from Amazon.

The Computer-Generated Ranking National Championship Series

Creation of the BCS
The year is 1998 and it’s the start of the BCS era. Football was the only sport in the NCAA to actually not sponsor a tournament system to determine a champion so the BCS was created to help determine who should play in what bowl game and who would eventually be named national champion. The BCS system used a number of metrics to determine who should be placed where from team rankings and polls. The national championship game would rotate between the Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl, and Sugar Bowl. Selections were made by giving the top two teams the national championship spot, an automatic qualifier to conference champions of the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-10, and the SEC. Notre Dame had their own rule too where they got in if they finished in the top eight. Later on, automatic qualifiers would be given to non automatic qualifier schools if they finished in the top 12 or were ranked in the top 16 above on of the automatic qualifier champions. It was kind of a mess but really favored the major conferences making way for even less Independents. By 1998 only 8 Independent teams remained and from 1998-2013 the BCS only had non automatic qualifier teams appear 8 times when throughout the duration there were 64 different games played.
Notre Dame did appear four times as well.

Conference Realignment
It’s staggering whenever you hear the number. 78 times. Yes, from 1998 to 2013 teams would switch conferences an entire 78 times. Sometimes teams switching one, two, three times. It was banana land but it’s calmed down in the playoff era until now. Let’s run you through it.

Mountain West Conference (WAC Split)
The creation of the Mountain West was an immediate result of the 1996 creation of the Big 12. With the WAC adding three members of the folding SWC and a couple others from the Big West, tensions were rising quickly between the established and new members. The WAC was up to 16 members now and were split up into four quadrants. Some schools proposed two divisions but the vast geography was forcing some teams to be misaligned and it just wasn’t working. In 1998 Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, UNLV, New Mexico, San Diego State, Utah, and Wyoming would form the Mountain West literally at a meeting inside the Denver Airport. TCU would be the next to join in 2005 and later on in the early 2010s Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii, San Jose State, and Utah State would join but three key members had already left the conference.

Sun Belt Conference
Another one of those originally we weren’t football but now we’re football conferences. Yes, nowadays you may know the conference here as the ones that upset Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Texas A&M all on the same day but it’s membership has changed A LOT. The conference was originally created in 1976 but did not sponsor football until the 2001 season. The original football members were Middle Tennessee, North Texas, New Mexico State, Louisiana, Arkansas State, UL-Monroe, and Idaho. Through today teams that have both made the jump to the FBS level and teams looking to move around have joined the Sun Belt. Those teams are App State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, JMU, Marshall, ODU, South Alabama, Southern Miss, Texas State, Troy, and Western Kentucky. On a sad note Idaho left to be an independent for a while then joined back but due to the tough regionality differences to the other programs, Idaho would be the first ever school to voluntarily move to the FCS in 2018. A different strategy as opposed to most other conferences, the Sun Belt has added smaller schools with strong traditions instead of just trying to hold on to certain teams.

Big East Split
Actual Murder of Basketball
Remember that whole talk about football killing the Big East? It finally happened. In 2003 the ACC started courting some of the larger football brands in the Big East and in 2004 Miami and Virginia Tech would officially head to their current home with Boston College leaving a year after. Temple would also leave in 2004 and do the Independent thing for a year before joining the MAC and then joining the Big East again in 2012. With the departure of these three, the Big East had three spots open and in order to stay competitive they added some more football schools with Cincinnati, Louisville, and South Florida. The group would stay together again until 2011 when West Virginia announced they would join the Big 12 starting in 2012. Syracuse and Pittsburgh had signed up to leave the Big East in 2011 for the ACC and were supposed to stay until after 2013 but used West Virginia as leverage to join the ACC a year early. Don’t forget about Rutgers and Louisville as they had already signed up to leave for the Big Ten and ACC. Louisville’s decision to leave was the official breaking point for the Catholic Seven (Big East Basketball Schools, non-FBS Football). Within a month the Catholic Seven would leave the conference and they were taking the name with ’em. The Big East still runs as a highly touted non-FBS football conference to this day.
New Football Conference YAY
A couple months later, the remaining FBS schools from the Big East would form their own conference and it came with a nice little perk of keeping an automatic BCS bid. Along with Houston, UCF, Memphis, and SMU coming over from Conference USA, the remaining Big East football schools would build the American Athletic Conference and play would start immediately. Louisville and Rutgers only played one year in the AAC and a year later ECU, Tulane, and Tulsa would come over with Navy a year behind them. UConn would go independent in 2020 and join the original Big East and Basketball and the three newcomers to the Big 12 left as well. Starting this season Charlotte, FAU, North Texas, Rice, UAB, and UTSA will all be full time members. They all also came from Conference USA so the only remaining Big East members today are Temple and South Florida.

Big 12-8-10 and Pac-10-12 and Big-10-12-14-10
So yes, it’s 2012 and West Virginia is officially a Big 12 member. TCU came along with them after a stint in the WAC, Conference USA, and Mountain West to get back with some of their old SWC pals. But what else happened in this time? Nebraska left in 2011 to join the Big Ten, officially making them the Big Ten with twelve teams before Maryland and Rutgers come along a couple of years later. Nebraska really forced a domino effect inside of the Big 12. The program was frustrated with the league as it had long favored the top two teams in the conference (Texas and Oklahoma). Colorado also left in 2011 with the uncertainty around Nebraska leaving to join the Pac 10 with Utah officially making it the conference we know today. On top of that, the same year that TCU and WVU come along is the same year that Mizzou and Texas A&M are going to leave for the SEC. Missouri originally wanted to join Nebraska in the Big 10 but they didn’t get the go ahead. After Nebraska left Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott invited Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Colorado, and Texas Tech as well but Texas negotiated with the Big 12 and the other three minus A&M stuck with them. I’m sure the Longhorn Network had something to do with Texas A&M being pissed at Texas. Anyways, funny how the tables have turned on Larry Scott. Welcome back Colorado.

Back To The Present And Where Do We Go From Here?
“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” – Karl Marx


Would you call this week, the first week of August a farce? Will history repeat itself? I think so.

We’re moving towards three major conferences and it’s not the first time we’ve had it but it’s definitely the largest they’ve ever been. The SIAA had 73 different schools in their span, like that is just insane to think about. So the SIAA turned into the SoCon and we had teams split apart because they couldn’t agree on certain things. It’s most likely what’s going to happen again but it will just take some time. Nothing in this world is truly too big to fail. We had a Missouri Valley and Southwest Merger. It’s happening again, just this time the Big 12 is gobbling up the Pac 12 schools. The Pacific Coast Conference was there once and the northern California schools were good and they can be good again (I think). The Pac has a brand and it won’t just die. It will just turn into what the Mountain West was when they broke free from the WAC but they’ll have the Pac name.
Football only conferences are probably going to be a thing at some point, it has to happen. We saw tons of teams have independent only football programs up until the 1990’s and then have other sports in a conference so why wouldn’t that concept work here? Listen, I know the landscape is tough and it’s all about the money. These TV contracts are going to be running until the early 2030’s and when that time is up we’ll see what happens. I assume the most prestigious schools see it as a way to even more money and we’ll have splits like crazy to form a couple of smaller super conferences. My only advice is just buckle up and try to enjoy the ride (as long as you’re not a fan of one of these teams in conference limbo.)

Let me know your thoughts in the comments after reading about the history. I truly do want to hear what you have to say.

Conference Realignment Draft Podcast
We did do a conference realignment draft a while back and it was absolutely hilarious. Hope some of you guys will give it a listen. You can find it here or it is embedded below.


ACC – Atlantic Coast Conference.
AAC – American Athletic Conference. Once was a split from the Big East in 2013. Now mainly just old Conference USA schools.
BCS – Bowl Championship Series. Championship format for 1998-2013.
Big 10 – Member of the P5. Actually has 16 members starting in 2024. Was originally compiled of Midwest programs and started in 1896.
Big 12 – Member of the P5. Actually has 14 now and 13 starting in 2024. Was originally the Big 8 before 1996.
Big East – Basketball conference until 1990 then a football conference then back to a basketball conference in 2013. Football schools created the AAC. Still playing basketball, just much less teams.
Big West – Formed in 1969. Stopped football in 2001. Members left for Mountain West, WAC, or the Sun Belt.
Border Conference – Founded in 1931 by Arizona, New Mexico, western Texas schools. Ended entirely as a conference in 1962 as members left for WAC, Skyline, and Southwest.
Catholic Seven – The non-football schools of the Big East
College Football Association – Won TV rights from the NCAA. Conferences just cut them out.
Conference USA – Merger of the Metro and Great Midwest Conferences in 1995.
FBS – Football Bowl Subdivision.
FBS Independents – Murdered by Penn State except Notre Dame.
FCS – Football Championship Series.
Great Midwest Conference – Cincinnati, DePaul, Marquette, Memphis, Saint Louis, UAB, and Dayton. (1991-1995)
Ivy League – The OG bad boys. Moved down from FBS in 1981 due to attendance and seating capacities.
MAC – Mid American Conference. MACTION.
Metro Conference – Basketball only super conference attempt. Turned into Conference USA merger with the Great Midwest. Ran from 1975-1995.
MVIAA – Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
Mountain West Conference – Former WAC members. Started play in 1999.
Pac-12 – Pac-10 plus Utah and Colorado (sike)
Pacific Coast Conference – The original Pac-10 without Arizona and Arizona State. Killed Idaho.
SEC – Southeastern Conference. Formed in 1932 from 13 members of the SoCon. Just means more.
Skyline Conference – Ran from 1937 to 1962. Compiled of all mountain region schools.
SoCon – Southern Conference. SIAA spinoff. Former members created the SEC and ACC. Still in play today at the FCS level.
SIAA – Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Founded in 1894 it was one of the first conferences. Original home of 21 Power Five programs. Disbanded in 1942.
SAIAA – SIAA but Atlanticish
Southwest Conference – Texas schools plus Arkansas (1915-1996) RIP.
Sun Belt – Best G5 conference.
Walter Camp – King of football.
WAC – Formed from Skyline and Border Conference in 1962. Still running today.
Western Conference – Original name for the Big Ten. Was the Big Nine from 1899 to 1911 and then the Big Ten from 1916 on.

Current FBS Members and Conferences Timeline
Yes, I know some of these have more but the big dogs are covered. Hard to trace who moved down and up between divisions, especially pre 1978.

Air Force
(1955) Independent → (1980) WAC → (1988) Mountain West

(1987) Independent → (1992) MAC

(1892) Independent → (1895) SIAA → (1921) SoCon → (1933) SEC

Appalachian State
(2014) Sun Belt

(1899) Independent→ (1931) Border → (1962) WAC → (1978) Pac-10 → (2011) Pac-12

Arizona State
(1897) Independent→ (1931) Border → (1962) WAC → (1978) Pac-10 → (2011) Pac-12

(1894) Independent → (1915) Southwest → (1992) SEC

Arkansas State
(1996) Independent → (1999) Big West → (2001) Sun Belt

(1890) Independent → (1998) Conference USA → (2005) Independent

(1892) Independent → (1895) SIAA → (1921) SoCon → (1933) SEC

Ball State
(1973) MAC

(1898) Independent → (1915) Southwest → (1996) Big 12

Boise State
(1996) Big West → (2001) WAC → (2011) Mountain West

Boston College
(1892) Independent → (1991) Big East → (2005) ACC

Bowling Green
(1952) MAC

(1999) MAC

(1922) Roucky Mountain → (1938) Skyline → (1962) WAC → (1999) Mountain West → (2011) Independent → (2023) Big 12

(1886) Independent → (1916) PCC → (1959) Pac-10 → (2011) Pac-12

Central Michigan
(1975) MAC

(2015) Conference USA

(1885) Independent → (1910) Ohio Athletic Conference) → (1926) Buckeye Athletic Association → (1935) Independent → (1947) MAC → (1953) Independent → (1957) MVC → (1970) Independent → (1996) Conference USA → (2005) Big East → (2013) AAC → (2023) Big 12

(1896) SIAA → (1921) SoCon → (1953) ACC

Coastal Carolina
(2017) Sun Belt

(1890) Independent → (1893) CFA → (1905) Independent → (1906) CFA → (1909) Rocky Mountain → (1938) Skyline → (1948) Big Eight → (1996) Big 12 → (2011) Pac-12 → (2024) Big 12

Colorado State
(1893) CFA → (1909) Rocky Mountain → (1938) Skyline → (1962) Independent → (1968) WAC → (1999) Mountain West

(1889) Independent → (1930) SoCon → (1953) ACC

East Carolina
(1932) Independent → (1947) North State Conference → (1962) Independent → (1965) SoCon → (1977) Independent → (1997) Conference USA → (2014) AAC

Eastern Michigan
(1966) Independent → (1976) MAC

Florida Atlantic
(2004) Independent → (2005) Sun Belt → (2013) Conference USA → (2023) AAC

(2002) Independent → (2005) Sun Belt → (2013) Conference USA

(1906) Independent → (1912) SIAA → (1922) SoCon → (1933) SEC

Florida State
(1951) Independent → (1992) ACC

Fresno State
(1969) Big West → (1992) WAC → (2012) Mountain West

(1891) Independent → (1896) SIAA → (1921) SoCon → (1933) SEC

Georgia Southern
(2014) Sun Belt

Georgia State
(2013) Sun Belt

Georgia Tech
(1892) Independent → (1894) SIAA → (1914) Independent → (1915) SIAA → (1922) SoCon → (1933) SoCon → (1964) → Independent → (1983) ACC

(1909) Independent → (1979) WAC → (2012) Mountain West

(1946) Lone Star → (1949) Gulf Coast → (1950) Independent → (1951) MVC → (1960) Independent → (1976) Southwest → (1996) Conference USA → (2013) AAC → (2023) Big 12

(1890) Independent → (1896) Western Conference/Big Ten

(1887) Independent → (1900) Western Conference/Big Ten

(1889) Independent → (1900) Western Conference/Big Ten

Iowa State
(1892) Independent → (1908) MVIAA → (1928) Big 6/7/8 → (1996) Big 12

Jacksonville State
(2023) Conference USA

James Madison
(2022) Sun Belt

(1890) KIAA (1892) WIUFA (1896) Independent (1907) MVIAA (1928) Big Eight (1996) Big 12
Kansas State →(1893) Independent (1913) MVIAA (1913) (1928) Big Eight (1996) Big 12

Kent State
(1951) MAC

(1881) Independent (1896) SIAA (1905) Independent (1912) SIAA (1922) SoCon (1933) SEC

(2018) Independent → (2023) Conference USA

(1901) Independent → (1948) Gulf States → (1971) Southland → (1982) Independent → (1993) Big West → (1996) Independent → (2001) Sun Belt

Louisiana-Monroe (1953) Gulf States → (1972) Independent → (1982) Southland → (1994) Independent → (2001) Sun Belt

Louisiana Tech
(1971) Southland → (1987) FCS Independent → (1988) FBS Independent → (1993) Big West → (1996) Independent → (2001) WAC → (2013) Conference USA

(1912) Independent → (1948) OVC → (1949) Independent → (1963) MVC → (1975) Independent → (1996) Conference USA → (2005) Big East → (2013) AAC → (2014) ACC

(1893) Independent → (1896) SIAA → (1923) SoCon → (1933) SEC

(1954) MAC → (1977) FCS → (1997) MAC → (2005) Conference USA → (2022) Sun Belt

(1892) Independent → (1894) MIFA → (1898) Independent → (1916) SAIAA → (1922) SoCon → (1952) Independent → (1953) ACC → (2014) Big Ten

(1912) Independent → (1928) Mississippi Valley → (1935) SIAA → (1943) Independent → (1968) MVC) → (1996) Conference USA → (2013) AAC

Miami (FL)
(1927) Independent → (1929) SIAA → (1942) Independent → (1991) Big East → (2004) ACC

Miami (OH)
(1888) Independent → (1947) MAC

(1879) Independent → (1892) IAANW → (1894) Independent → (1896) Western Conference → (1907) Independent → (1917) Big Ten

Michigan State
(1896) MIAA → (1907) Independent → (1953) Big Ten

Middle Tennessee
(1911) Independent → (1952) OVC → (1999) Independent → (2001) Sun Belt → (2013) Conference USA

(1882) Independent → (1896) Western/Big Ten

Mississippi State
(1895) Independent → (1896) SIAA → (1922) SoCon → (1933) SEC

(1890) Independent → (1892) Western Interstate → (1898) Independent → (1907) MVIAA → (1928) Big 6/7/8 → (1996) Big 12 → (2012) SEC

(1879) Independent → (2015) AAC

NC State
(1892) Independent → (1898) SIAA → (1907) SAIAA → (1922) SoCon → (1953) ACC

(1890) Independent → (1892) Western Interstate → (1907) MVIAA → (1919) Independent → (1921) MVIAA → (1928) Big 8 → (1996) Big 12 → (2011) Big 10

(1992) Big West → (2000) WAC → (2012) Mountain West

New Mexico
(1892) Independent → (1931) Border Conference → (1951) Skyline → (1962) WAC → (1999) Mountain West

New Mexico State
(1893) Independent → (1931) Border → (1962) Independent → (1971) MVC → (1983) Big West → (2001) Sun Belt → (2005) WAC → (2013) Independent → (2014) Sun Belt → (2018) Independent → (2023) Conference USA

North Carolina
(1888) Independent → (1893) SIAA → (1902) Independent → (1922) SoCon → (1953) ACC

North Texas
(1913) Independent → (1922) TIAA → (1932) Lone Star → (1949) Gulf Coast → (1957) MVC → (1975) FBS Independent → (1982) FCS Independent → (1983) Southland → (1996) Big West → (2001) Sun Belt → (2013) Conference USA → (2023) AAC

Northern Illinois
(1975) MAC → (1986) Independent → (1993) Big West → (1996) Independent → (1997) MAC

(1882) Independent → (1896) Western/Big Ten

Notre Dame
(1887) Independent

(1894) Independent → (1910) OAC → (1926) Buckeye → (1939) Independent → (1947) MAC

Ohio State
(1890) Independent → (1902) OAC → (1912) Big Ten

(1895) Independent → (1915) Southwest → (1920) Big Eight → (1996) Big12 → (2024) SEC

Oklahoma State
(1901) Independent → (1915) Southwest → (1925) MVIAA → (1926) MVC → (1960) Big Eight → (1996) Big 12

Old Dominion
(2014) Conference USA → (2022) Sun Belt

Ole Miss
(1893) Independent → (1905) SIAA → (1922) SoCon → (1933) SEC

(1894) Oregon Intercollegiate Football Association → (1896) Independent → (1902) NWIAA → (1903) Independent → (1908) NWIAA → (1909) Independent → (1912) NWIAA → (1916) Pacific Coast Conference → (1964) Pac-10 → (2011) Pac-12

Oregon State
(1893) OIFA → (1898) Independent → (1902) NWIAA → (1903) Independent → (1908) NWIAA → (1909) Independent → (1912) NWIAA → (1915) Pacific Coast Conference → (1959) Independent → (1964) Pac-10 → (2011) Pac-12

Penn State
(1887) Independent → PIFA (1891) → (1892) Independent → (1993) Big Ten

(1893) Middle States Intercollegiate Football League → (1946) Middle Three → (1958) Middle Atlantic → (1991) Big East → (2013) AAC → (2014) Big Ten

Sam Houston
(2023) Conference USA

San Diego State
Independent (1921) → (1969) Big West → (1978) WAC → (2000) Mountain West

San Jose State →
(1893) Independent → (1922) CCA → (1929) Far West → (1936) Independent → (1939) CCA → (1950) Independent → (1969) Big West → (1996) WAC → (2013) Mountain West

(1915) TIAA → (1918) Southwest → (1996) WAC → (2005) Conference USA → (2013) AAC

South Alabama
(2013) Sun Belt

South Carolina
(1892) Independent → (1915) SIAA) → (1922) SoCon → (1953) ACC → (1971) Independent → (1992) SEC

South Florida
(2003) Conference USA → (2005) Big East → (2013) AAC

Southern Miss
(1912) Independent → (1931) SIAA → (1942) Independent → (1948) Gulf States → (1952) Independent → (1996) Conference USA → (2022) Sun Belt

(1891) Independent → (1919) PCC → (1968) Pac-8 → (1978) Pac-10 → (2011) Pac-12

(1889) Independent → (1991) Big East → (2013) ACC

(1896) Independent → (1914) TIAA → (1921) Independent → (1923) Southwest → (1996) WAC → (2005) Mountain West → (2012) Big 12

(1894) Independent → (1958) Middle Atlantic → (1970) Independent → (1991) Big East → (2005) Independent → (2007) MAC → (2012) Big East → (2013) AAC

(1891) Independent → (1896) SIAA → (1921) SoCon → (1933) SEC

(1893) Independent → (1896) SIAA → (1905) Independent → (1914) TIAA → (1915) Southwest → (1996) Big 12 → (2024) SEC

Texas A&M
(1894) Independent → (1903) SIAA → (1909) Independent → (1912) SIAA → (1913) TIAA → (1915) Southwest → (1996) Big 12 → (2012) SEC

Texas State
(2012) WAC → (2013) Sun Belt

Texas Tech
(1925) Independent → (1932) Border → (1960) Southwest → (1996) Big 12

(1917) Independent → (1921) NW Ohio → (1932) OAC → (1948) Independent → (1952) MAC

(2004) Sun Belt

(1893) Independent → (1895) SIAA → (1922) SoCon → (1933) SEC → (1966) Independent → (1996) Conference USA → (2014) AAC

(1895) Independent → (1914) OCC → (1929) Big Four → (1935) MVC → (1986) Independent → (1996) WAC → (2005) Conference USA → (2014) AAC

(1996) Independent → (1999) Conference USA → (2023) AAC

(1996) Independent → (2002) MAC → (2005) Conference USA → (2013) AAC → (2023) Big 12

(1919) Independent → (1920) SCIAC → (1928) PCC → (1958) AAWU → (1968) Pac-8 → (1978) Pac-10 → (2011) Pac-12

(1897) ALNESC → (1923) New England → (1947) Yankee → (1997) A-10 → (2000) Independent → (2004) Big East → (2013) AAC → (2000) Independent

(2012) MAC → (2016) Independent

(1888) Independent → (1922) PCC → (1958) AAWU → (1968) Pac-8 → (1978) Pac-10 → (2011) Pac-12 → (2024) Big Ten

(1914) Independent → (1935) Border → (1962) Independent → (1968) WAC → (2005) Conference USA

(2012) WAC → (2013) Conference USA → (2023) AAC

(1892) Independent → (1910) Rocky Mountain → (1938) Skyline → (1962) WAC → (1999) Mountain West → (2011) Pac-12

Utah State
(1892) Independent → (1902) CFA → (1914) Rocky Mountain → (1938) Skyline → (1962) FCS Independent → (1973) FBS Independent → (1978) Big West → (2001) Independent → (2003) Sun Belt → (2005) WAC → (2013) Mountain West

(1890) Independent → (1895) SIAA → (1922) SoCon → (1933) SEC

(1888) Independent → (1900) Eastern Virginia → (1906) Independent → (1912) SAIAA → (1921) SoCon → (1937) Independent → (1953) ACC

Virginia Tech
(1892) Independent → (1898) SIAA → (1899) Independent → (1912) SAIAA → (1922) SoCon → (1965) Independent → (1991) Big East → (2004) ACC

Wake Forest
(1888) Independent → (1936) SoCon → (1953) ACC

(1889) Independent → (1916) PCC → (1959) AAWU → (1968) Pac-8 → (1978) Pac-10 → (2011) Pac-12

Washington State
(1894) Independent → (1917) PCC → (1918) Independent → (1919) PCC → (1959) Independent → (1962) AAWU → (1968) Pac-8 → (1978) Pac-10 → (2011) Pac-12

West Virginia
(1891) Independent → (1925) WVIAA → (1928) Independent → (1950) SoCon → (1968) Independent → (1991) Big East → (2012) Big 12

Western Kentucky
(2008) FBS Independent → (2009) Sun Belt → (2014) Conference USA

Western Michigan
(1906) Independent → (1926) MCC → (1932) Independent → (1948) MAC

(1889) Independent → (1896) Western/Big 10

(1893) Independent → (1905) CFA → (1909) Rocky Mountain → (1938) Skyline → (1962) WAC → (1999) Mountain West

Future FBS Teams
Kennesaw State (2024) Conference USA

Former FBS Teams
Cal State Fullerton – dead
Florida A&M
Holy Cross
Idaho – 🙁
Indiana State
Long Beach State – dead
Pacific – dead
Santa Clara – dead
Southern Illinois
Tennessee State
Texas Arlington
William & Mary
Western Carolina
West Texas State
Wichita State – dead