Chris Dufresne: New Big Dance is conference shuffle

Jul 31 2012 - 5:17pm

College football has become a quiz show called "Stump the (Marching) Band."

Buzz in, America, when you think you know the answer:

What former team from the Southwest, Western Athletic, Conference USA and Mountain West conferences will join the Big 12 this year after backing out, without ever playing a game, from the Big East?

Hint: The nickname croaks.

You know it's bad when the so-called experts throw up their hands with all the moving and shaking.

Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott said last week he thought the frenzied pace of conference realignment would slow for a while, though he would not submit to a sobriety test or blood oath.

Here's what you absolutely need to know, for now:

The answer to our first question is Texas Christian.

Boise State, formerly of the WAC, currently in the Mountain West, has announced plans to join the Big East, but only in football and not until next year.

San Diego State, after one more year in the Mountain West, is also taking football to the Big East. Get out a map and see how ridiculous that looks.

The rest of San Diego State's sports head to the Big West, as will all sports at Hawaii except football, which moves this year from the WAC to the Mountain West.

Got that so far? Don't worry, it gets better and/or worse.

Texas A&M and Missouri move this season from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference, where they are likely to wither away. Arkansas, the last team to join the SEC, in 1992, has never won that conference's football title.

Why Missouri and A&M are leaving, well, only Texas knows.

Pittsburgh and Syracuse are abandoning the Big East for the Atlantic Coast, but not quite yet. The Big East wanted to contractually hold the schools until 2014, but they recently negotiated buyouts to forward their mail one year sooner.

Also, lest we forget:

Former WAC members Fresno State and Nevada move this year to the Mountain West.

Temple, once booted out of the Big East because its football program was so repulsive, rejoins the league this year as (perhaps) its pulse.

Utah State and San Jose State will play this year in the WAC and next year in the Mountain West.

Houston, Southern Methodist, Central Florida and Memphis - all members of Conference USA - filed papers to depart next season for the Big East.

Florida International, Louisiana Tech and North Texas have signed letters of intent to join Conference USA starting in 2013.

Missing anybody?

Yes. West Virginia, formerly of the Big East, is now Big 12.

Army, Navy and Brigham Young remain independent, as does Notre Dame, which may have slightly tipped its hand by signing an agreement with the ACC-affiliated Orange Bowl.

There's also this NCAA Clearinghouse-keeping: USC comes off bowl probation after a two-year ban. Ohio State goes on probation for one year as Penn State begins a four-year bowl probationary period.

That means the Big Ten, which had 11 teams from 1993 until last year, when it bumped up to 12 with the addition of Nebraska, has only 10 this year competing for the title. The only schools eligible to win the Big Ten Leaders Division are Wisconsin, Purdue, Illinois and Indiana.

The Big 12, naturally, has 10 teams.

Status of possible NCAA infractions against Oregon and Miami: pending.

Status of this column (thankfully): ending.



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