Here at Sports Enthusiasts, we have a penchant for looking into a crystal ball and speculating on potential realignment possibilities. We started by looking at some FCS to FBS moves and then followed it up with some possible D2 to FCS changes.

Since then, we have looked at a few more teams and conferences. In total, we have delved further into the prospects of 21 teams moving from the FCS to the FBS and from Division II to the FCS.

Given the numerous articles recently posted about the WAC (here, here, and here), we decided to make a master list of all the teams we have looked at as potential realignment fodder.

The list will include only teams that were discussed in length. For example, an article discussing a potential WAC return briefly listed Angelo State, Colorado Mines, Colorado State-Pueblo, and Texas A&M-Commerce as potential targets if the resurrected football aspect of the conference comes to fruition. These programs are not included in the list below.

The table below is sorted alphabetically and can be sorted by article date and our final verdict. As we publish more articles, the table will be updated to reflect the newly discussed teams.

TeamArticle Date(s)Division Change
(Conference Change)
Verdict
Abilene Christian10/23/2020FCS to FCS/FBS
(Southland to WAC)
Possibly
Army6/29/2019FBS to FBS
(Indy to AAC)
No
Cal Poly10/7/2020FCS to FCS
(Big Sky to WAC)
Possible
Cal State Fullerton7/13/2019Restarted to FCS
(Big Sky)
Unlikely
Eastern Washington8/29/2018FCS to FBS
(Big Sky to Mt. West)
Unlikely
Grand Canyon7/13/2019New Program
(Big Sky)
Long-term prospect
Jacksonville State8/29/2018FCS to FBS
(OVC to Sun Belt)
Possible
James Madison8/29/2018FCS to FBS
(CAA to C-USA)
Mabye
Lamar10/23/2020FCS to FCS/FBS
(Southland to WAC)
Makes Little Sense
New Mexico State10/7/2020FBS to FCS
(Indy to WAC)
Maybe
North Dakota State8/29/2018FCS to FBS
(MVFC to Mt. West)
No
Northern Arizona10/7/2020FCS to FCS
(Big Sky to WAC)
Possible
Northern Colorado10/7/2020FCS to FCS
(Big Sky to WAC)
Possible
Northern Kentucky7/13/2019New Program
(Ohio Valley)
Unlikely
Northwest Missouri State7/13/2019D2 to FCS
(MIAA to MVFC)
Unlikely
Sacramento State10/7/2020FCS to FCS
(Big Sky to WAC)
Possible
Sam Houston State8/29/2018FCS to FBS
(Southland to C-USA)
No
Sam Houston State10/23/2020FCS to FCS/FBS
(Southland to WAC)
Makes Little Sense
Southern Utah10/23/2020FCS to FCS/FBS
(Big Sky to WAC)
Likely
Stephen F. Austin10/23/2020FCS to FCS/FBS
(Southland to WAC)
Makes Little Sense
Texas-Arlington8/29/2018Restarted Program
(Sun Belt)
Possible
UC Davis10/7/2020FCS to FCS
(Big Sky to WAC)
Possible
Valdosta State7/13/2019D2 to FCS
(Gulf South to SoCon)
Maybe
VCU8/29/2018New Program
(C-USA)
Unlikely
West Texas A&M10/1/2020D2 to FCS
(Lone Star to WAC)
Likely


So what’s ahead in terms of volume, frequency, and format?

Well… it’s complicated. We hope to put out at least one article every three months starting in 20201, maybe more frequently, but the format will vary depending on the crux of the article. Will it be focused on a team or group of teams? Or will it be focused on an entire conference?

It makes sense to look at the WAC as a whole instead of focusing on each team individually. On the other hand, evaluating a team like Army and whether it should join a conference doesn’t require an entire game of dominos to take a closer look.

That’s why each article’s format will vary. One thing that probably won’t change is the evaluation criteria for these articles. We believe that geography and costs are the biggest factors for smaller conferences. They matter for the Power 5 conferences as well but to a lesser extent. For them, it’s more about media markets, hence why Maryland (DC/Virginia/Atlantic footprint) and Rutgers (NYC footprint) are in the Big Ten now.

In most cases, we will use average distance between a school and a potential conference(s) with a large caveat – distance is only one part of the equation for schools. We use a simplistic and crude standard with distance but it usually suffices to illustrate a larger point.

Other aspects we will attempt to include are costs and revenues as reported by the Knight Commission. Yet another caveat is required, however. Only public institutions are available, which can complicate some calculations. Further research will be required when researching private Division I institutions or for Division II institutions.

Furthermore, we tend to only look at the football side of the decision. We are well aware that other sports exist and may be pertinent to the discussion but generally speaking, football is the breadwinner for most schools, thus we focus primarily on it. We understand other sports exist and do reference how increased travel costs can impact a decision. In most cases, extended travel for Olympic sports is referenced when we provide our conclusion.

One final note, these speculative articles are just that: speculation. They are not grounded in any sources or insider knowledge. They are fun little mental exercises to see how teams might change the CFB landscape by jumping between conferences, subdivisions, or divisions.

We hope you have enjoyed the articles so far and we look forward to providing a more in-depth analysis of any speculative realignment moves in the future!

Photo courtesy of Sam Hodde/Associated Press

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