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June 14, 2014

New college landscape on the horizon

For quite a few years, there was talk about the formation of four 16-team super-conferences.

Well, the college athletics world never quite reached that point. But, beginning July 1, there will be five conferences which will be at the top of Division I athletics. BCS conferences no longer exist.

The new phrase is Power 5 conferences. That group includes the ACC, the Big 10, the Big 12, the Pac-12 and the SEC. Those five leagues consist of 64 schools for football. School No. 65 is Notre Dame, a member of the ACC in nearly all major men and women sports except for football.

Super-conferences never became a reality. However, a separation has surfaced between these five conferences and the remaining Division I leagues. In the new college football playoff system, these five conferences are the ones which will have an automatic berth in one of the upper-tier bowl games.

Now, the most impactful meeting for the future of college athletics will take place in August when the NCAA Board of Directors gets together. At that time, a vote will be taken as regards autonomy for the Power 5 conferences.

Simply put, these five leagues want to have the right to set their own rules. At the top of this list is the institution of a "cost-of-attendance" stipend for scholarship athletes. Issues like medical benefits for student-athletes will also be discussed.

These 65 schools have greater financial resources than the rest of Division I. These universities do not want to be held back by the smaller Division I schools.

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive already has threatened that the Power 5 leagues would form a Division IV if they are not granted autonomy by the NCAA Board of Directors. No one should ever expect these five leagues to "withdraw" from the NCAA.

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However, the separation within Division I football has already occurred. Schools from outside these five power conferences dominated football in the BCS era (1998-2013). In the final Associated Press rankings over those 16 years, only three schools not in one of the five leagues ended in the top eight.

Those three schools were Tulane in 1998, Boise State in 2007, 2010 and 2012 and Cincinnati in 2010. Tulane and Cincinnati will be members of the American Athletic Conference, while Boise State is a member of the Mountain West Conference.

Some schools in these non-Power 5 conferences have enjoyed some post-season success. Boise State is one school, while Central Florida - also in the American Athletic Conference - is another. But, teams outside the Power 5 leagues have not been a factor in the national title chase in football.

Such a situation does not exist in basketball and baseball. Probably due to the format of a 64-plus-team tournament in those sports, schools from outside of the Power 5 conferences have had more success. The best example is Connecticut, which has won four national titles in basketball in the past 16 seasons.

No college administrator wants to see anything happen which would change the current NCAA tournament in basketball. That event brings billions of dollars to the NCAA. If the Power 5 conferences would form their own tournament, there would be no financial windfall for the NCAA.

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Therefore, one would believe the NCAA Board of Directors will grant the Power 5 conferences the autonomy they desire later this summer. However, there won't be many changes in on-the-field results.

The non-Power 5 conferences will have little chance of winning a national title in football. But, they will have their chances at being that Cinderella in basketball and baseball.

Here are the members of the Power 5 conferences.

ACC (14): Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest. NOTE: Notre Dame is not a member in football, but it is a member in most of the remaining sports.

Big 10 (14): Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin.

Big 12 (10): Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, TCU, Texas Tech, West Virginia.

Pac-12 (12): Arizona, Arizona State, California, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, Southern California, Stanford, UCLA, Utah, Washington, Washington State.

SEC (14): Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt.

Here are the teams not in Power 5 conferences who finished in the top eight in the final Associated Press football poll during the BCS era (1998-2013).

1998: Tulane
2007: Boise State
2010: Boise State, Cincinnati
2012: Boise State

Here are the teams not in Power 5 conferences who reached the Elite Eight in the NCAA basketball tournament during the BCS era (1999-2014).

1999: Connecticut (national champion), Gonzaga, St. John's, Temple
2000: Tulsa
2001: Temple
2002: Connecticut, Kent State
2003: Marquette
2004: Connecticut (national champion), St. Joseph's, Xavier
2006: Connecticut, George Mason, Memphis, Villanova
2007: Georgetown, Memphis
2008: Davidson, Memphis, Xavier
2009: Connecticut, Villanova
2010: Butler
2011: Butler, Connecticut (national champion), Virginia Commonwealth
2013: Marquette, Wichita State
2014: Connecticut (national champion), Dayton

Here are the teams not in Power 5 conferences who reached the College World Series in the BCS era (1999-2014).

1999: Fullerton State, Rice
2000: Louisiana-Lafayette, San Jose State
2001: Fullerton State, Tulane
2002: Rice
2003: Fullerton State, Missouri State, Rice (national champion)
2004: Fullerton State (national champion)
2005: Tulane
2006: Fullerton State, Rice
2007: Cal Irvine, Fullerton State, Rice
2008: Fresno State (national champion), Rice
2009: Fullerton State, USM
2012: Kent State, Stony Brook
2014: Cal Irvine



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