Among the rites of spring here at Dawg Sports is my annual exercise in radically realigning the college football conferences just to see how different the landscape of the sport could look with a few alterations.
After casting the flotsam and jetsam of Division I-A into Conference U.S.A., I proceeded to confine the Pac-10 to the Pacific Coast and put the "Western" back in "Western Athletic Conference." As we move steadily eastward through this progression of geographically contiguous arrangements of affiliations, we come now to the Big West.
That's "Big West," not "Big Western." (By the way, what was up with "El Dorado"? Did they think we wouldn't notice that it was just a remake of "Rio Bravo"? Have you ever watched "El Dorado" and not found yourself thinking, "Boy, 'Rio Bravo' was a great movie"? I just don't get it.)
Many of you may have forgotten about the Big West since the league dropped football following the 2000 season, but it's still there and I'd like to get it back into the business of fielding Division I-A gridiron squads, so here is how I would remake the Big West:
New Mexico State
In keeping with the theme of this year's reshuffling of the college football conferences, all 10 members of the new Big West hail from the Land of Enchantment and the Centennial, Sooner, and Sunflower States.
While this arrangement makes a great deal of geographic sense, I will grant that this conglomeration of disparate elements appears a bit unusual at first glance. Nevertheless, all of these programs have a history of periodically shifting their league affiliations, so their present conference memberships hardly are set in stone.
Of course, there's being willing to change league allegiances, and then there's poaching other conferences' marquee programs like a thief in the night. (Image from Football Fanatics.)
Between them, those 10 institutions can or could count among their number five members of the Big Eight, one member of the Big Four, five members of the Big 12, one member of the Big West, two members of the Border Conference, one member of Conference U.S.A., six members of the Missouri Valley Conference, two members of the Mountain States Conference, three members of the Mountain West, one member of the Oklahoma Collegiate Conference, two members of the Rocky Mountain Conference, two members of the Skyline Conference, two members of the S.W.C., one member of the Sun Belt, and five members of the W.A.C. . . . and that is without counting the Big Six and Big Seven as separate entities from the Big Eight.
Not one of the 10 teams listed above has the same conference affiliation today that it had in 1995 and half of them are now in different leagues from those to which they belonged in 1998. Nine of those programs have been a part of at least three conferences and seven have claimed membership in four or more different leagues. Mobility, upward and otherwise, has been a way of life for these frontier squads.
Accordingly, I think it's high time we found out what it would be like if, within the confines of a single conference, there were annual tangles between the Falcons and the Jayhawks, the Rams and the Pokes, the Lobos and the Wildcats, the Sooners and the Aggies, and the Buffaloes and the Golden Hurricane. As an added bonus, the revived and reinvigorated Big West wouldn't be a half-bad basketball conference, now, would it?
Coming soon . . . the upgraded Mid-American Conference.