- Associated Press - Thursday, September 22, 2011

It’s been a dizzying start to the college football season, not so much on the field as in the board room, where as conference loyalties have shifted (Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC) and trembled (the Big 12).

Perhaps some perspective is in order.

While it’s more predatory these days, realignment has happened before. These are the 12 most significant conference additions and subtractions in college football over the last 20 years.


1) Arkansas (Southwest Conference) and South Carolina (independent) to SEC in 1991.

In many ways, the Southeastern Conference caused a lot of this mayhem going on today. The SEC became the first conference to break into two six-team divisions and in 1992 staged the first conference championship game. It turned out so well, others decided to copy it.

2) The Big Eight adds Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor and Texas A&M (Southwest Conference) to create Big 12 in 1996.

Weakened by scandals and the departure of Arkansas to the SEC, the SWC died after the 1995 season. The Texas schools joined a league that featured Oklahoma and Nebraska and split into two six-team divisions to play a title game. The first sign of problems came early, though, when the Nebraska-Oklahoma series stopped being an annual rivalry.

3) Penn State (independent) to Big Ten 1993.

Happy Valley is in central Pennsylvania and, for years, Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions were the considered the kings of Northeast football. By becoming the 11th member of the Big Ten _ years after being rejected by the Big East when it was still a basketball-only conference _ it shifted more power to the Midwest. With Penn State no longer regularly playing teams such as Syracuse and Pittsburgh, Northeast football has never been the same.

4) Florida State (independent) to the ACC in 1991.

The Seminoles were an emerging superpower under Bobby Bowden. The ACC was a basketball conference, trying to bolster its football credibility. The result of the merger helped Florida State more than the ACC. The Seminoles went on to win two national titles and contend for numerous others over the next 10 years, running roughshod over a conference that couldn’t keep up.

5) Miami, Virginia Tech, Rutgers, West Virginia, Temple (all independents) to the Big East in 1991.

Born as a basketball conference in 1979, the Big East decided to get into the football business 12 years later, adding national power Miami and the other four to Syracuse, Boston College and Pittsburgh. The real significance was the geography of the league. Now the Big East stretched from New England to South Florida and college sports conferences were no longer bound to traditional borders.

6) Miami and Virginia Tech (Big East) to the ACC in 2004 and Boston College (Big East) to the ACC in 2005.

Story Continues →