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Conference Realignment is More Like Independence Than One Might Think

The irony of all ironies

NCAA Football: Southern California at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

So much realignment you would think that we were at a convention for chiropractors

Listen. I know that the talk of the past week has been the bombshell that dropped in the world of college football and how that affects the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. When your direct rival moves to a conference, a conference that is centrally located halfway across the country, that is going to get people talking. I don’t really want to see that weird Big 10 commercial come on where it will stretch from the Statue of Liberty to now the Hollywood sign, but that’s where we will be in 2024 with USC and UCLA joining the Big 10 then.

However, I have been laughing to myself over the past week over the current state of affairs in CFB and the hot takes. Rumors and tweets that start with “SOURCE:” only for us to be hoodwinked by a guy who writes for a swim magazine. I have mainly been laughing because without realizing it, many people are claiming ways that conferences as we knew them are silly and irrelevant.

Now that Texas and Oklahoma will join the SEC and USC and UCLA will join the Big 10 (and I’m assuming others will fall into these two conferences), this will start to become two mega conferences forming the major part of college football. Who knows exactly what it will look like, but if that is the case you’re basically having two big divisions in football.

Ever since pundits started talking in 2020 about the season coming back and that it could be good to play whomever could play (meaning not bound by conferences), this talk about that and conference realignment reminds me of being Independent. Sure, if teams (and Notre Dame eventually) join one of two mega conferences that stretch across the country, that isn’t a conference. That is just playing teams across the nation...which Notre Dame has been doing in football forever.

Syndication: Arizona Republic Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

I keep always going back to one of my favorite list of rankings I’ve seen. If you look up the 1988 CFB I-A season page on Wikipedia, you can find conference rankings. Just look at the teams and the records of the Independents.


Look at all of those names. Miami was a powerhouse in the ‘80s. The Irish played West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl for the National Championship that year. Other schools that ND played and that had history in college football were still independent. I know that the conference deals with TV are way more prevalent now - I’m not naive to that and why these schools joined conferences. But, if ESPN or FOX or whomever is going to shell out the money for teams to play on their channels, let’s recognize this for what it is: college football. Conference allegiances and deals won’t mean much in the grand scheme of college football.

So, if and when this happens, I’ll just consider it an extension of being Independent, and that is a sweet thing. Being Independent for now is working until the Irish get shut out of the national championship talks because of their Independence. Until that time, let’s enjoy this Independence until our next life of Independence begins.

Syndication: South Bend Tribune Robert Franklin / USA TODAY NETWORK