By Sal Maneen
February 1st in National Signing Day for college football – the first day in which high school seniors can sign a letter of intent to play for a D-I program.
For this year’s crop of recruits though, the FBS landscape they’ll soon be entering is much different from the one they saw at the beginning of their high school careers (literally and figuratively). Conference realignment has been at the forefront of the football world for some time now, and doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon.
So, for the benefit of fans everywhere, we offer a quick primer on what to make of the latest conference shuffle:
- The Big Ten Conference now has twelve teams (even though for years it had eleven).
- The Big 12 Conference only has nine teams (ten if West Virginia is able to join for the 2012 season).
- TCU had to pay the Big East $5 million to leave a conference it was never a part of.
- Syracuse and Pittsburgh are the only schools currently in the Big East that have been there since Day One (the Big East added football as a sport in 1991). Now both schools are leaving for the ACC.
- Syracuse is a charter member of the Big East (the conference formed for basketball in 1979), and the only school that has been a full-fledged member for both football and basketball since the beginning. Not anymore.
- The Big East Conference is now adding Houston, SMU, Boise State, and San Diego State, along with Central Florida and Navy. Those first four schools are located in Texas, Idaho and California, and are in the Central, Mountain and Pacific time zones.
- A possible key to the Big East’s survival as a BCS conference with a championship game may hinge on Temple – a school the conference kicked out in 2004 due to its athletic programs’ shortcomings.
- The question marks surrounding the Big East’s BCS status moving forward reportedly played a big role in Greg Schiano leaving Rutgers after 11 seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL. That now makes SU’s Doug Marrone – who’s entering his 4th season at Syracuse with a record of just 17-19 – as the longest-tenured coach in the conference.
- Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12 for the Southeast Conference, meaning it likely won’t play rival Texas every year (the next possible meeting is reportedly not for another 7 years). These two schools have played each other 117 times since 1894 – the third-longest rivalry in college sports. Both schools’ fight songs are about their disdain for the other, and mention their rival by name.