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Where does WSU fit in college football's hierarchy?

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How many teams would be picked ahead of WSU if the conferences consolidate?

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning. We're officially over the hump, and on the downhill side of the barren wasteland that is the college football offseason. This makes me happy. Even better is the fact that WSU is coming off its best season in a long time, and figures to be as good or better in 2016. Today, we won't look ahead to 2016, however. We will instead look 10 years down the road.

Why are we doing that? Well, that's exactly what Stewart Mandel did this week, when he theorized that instead of maintaing the status quo, with possibly some realignment sprinkled in, college football as we know it could be radically altered. Here is the thrust of Mandel's reasoning:

Most scenarios out there continue where we left off in 2010-12 with what many see as an inevitable path toward 16-team super conferences. Bigger is better, right? Heck, why not make five of them?

But those assumptions don’t account for major philosophical shifts already taking place both within college athletics, where some administrators already rue various consequences of 14-team conferences (scheduling difficulties, bloated travel costs), and in the softening television rights marketplace. If anything, I expect the next big movement to be contraction, not expansion.

More accurately, call it a consolidation of power.

Mandel suggests that 24 schools, less than 20 percent of today's FBS-level teams, will go on their own and create a new "College Football Confederation." Why? Well, money of course. Mandel theorizes that these schools could negotiate an NFL Sunday Ticket-like cable subscription package that would dwarf any current conference deal.

This is where he starts to lose me. As a WSU alumnus, I'm not about to pay one cent to watch any college football league of which WSU isn't a part. Now, I understand that the odds of WSU making the College Football Playoff are extraordinarily long, but I still watch because I love the Cougs, and I love college football. A shift as radical as this would really put a damper on the latter.

So for once, that got me to thinking. How many teams would have to make up a new College Football Confederation that included WSU? If the Cougars were in such a league, my wallet would suddenly loosen, even though the odds would still be quite long for them to win the championship. My methodology was pretty simple. I didn't use any. I looked at last year's standings so I wouldn't forget anyone, and I looked at college football's all-time wins list, in case things got really tight. So let's start with Mandel's anointed 24.

Proposed Confederation:

East Midwest South West
Penn St Notre Dame Alabama USC
Miami Ohio State Auburn UCLA
Florida St Michigan Tennessee Oregon
Florida Michigan St LSU Stanford
Clemson Wisconsin Texas A&M Texas
Georgia Nebraska Arkansas Oklahoma

From there, I decided to pick batches of four schools at a time. If I'm being honest, I think Washington belongs on here more than Arkansas, and probably even Texas A&M. But I'll work with what was proposed.

Next Four: Virginia Tech, Washington, West Virginia, Georgia Tech

Next Four: Pitt, Cal, TCU, Oklahoma St

These schools make for even eight-team conferences, and balance out somewhat geographically.

Next Four: BYU, Missouri, Ole Miss, Baylor

Next Four: Iowa, Kansas St, Arizona St, South Carolina

Here is where I actually think the sweet spot could be. Nine conference games, plus three non-conference games against the teams that finished in the same spot in the standings the year prior.

Next Four: Utah, Colorado, Boston College, Minnesota

We're starting to reach the point where the lights are coming on in the bar, and the scent of desperation hangs heavily in the air.

Next Four: Syracuse, Texas Tech, Boise State, WSU

Just in under the wire! I'll admit, there are quite a few schools who have a pretty good argument for that last spot. I also considered Navy, Mississippi State, Louisville, NC State, Arizona and UCF. There are are probably a couple others I'm forgetting. But in the end, I'm putting the Cougs in because it's my damn league.

So here's what a new 48-team Super League would look like:

East A Midwest A South A West A
Miami Notre Dame Alabama USC
Florida St Ohio St Auburn UCLA
Florida Michigan Tennessee Stanford
Georgia Michigan St LSU Cal
Georgia Tech Minnesota Ole Miss Oregon
Clemson Wisconsin South Carolina Arizona St
East B Midwest B South B West B
Virginia Tech Iowa Arkansas WSU
Penn St Kansas St Texas A&M Utah
West Virginia Missouri Texas Boise State
Boston College TCU Oklahoma Colorado
Syracuse Texas Tech Oklahoma St BYU
Pitt Nebraska Baylor Washington

This works pretty nicely. There are a couple geographic outliers, such as Texas Tech in the Midwest. The west is a bit wonky also, with Oregon staying with the California schools and ASU, but the line had to be drawn somewhere. Plus, the scheduling works out well. Five division games, three crossover conference games and matchups against teams from the other conference who finished in the same spot in the standings.

So that's what I put together. What do you think? Who would you put in or take out? How many teams are acceptable?


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