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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Navigating College Football’s 2024 Realignment Landscape: What’s Next?

  • Texans and Oklahoma officially joined the SEC this week.
  • Florida State still wants to leave the ACC, which is adding three teams.
USA TODAY

The start of college football season is a little more than 50 days away, when fans will begin to get their first looks at the new Power 4 era, on the field at least. 

But this week marked the official transition for some schools, like Texas and Oklahoma, which departed the Big 12 to join the SEC. Schools leaving the Pac-12 will formally become members of their respective new conferences on Aug. 2, just a few weeks before the first football games of 2024 kick off. 

New Faces in New Places

To recap the busy season of realignment, which includes 15 schools on the move, here are the conferences that are adding new members this summer:

  • ACC: Cal, Stanford, SMU
  • American Athletic Conference: Army (football only)
  • Conference USA: Kennesaw State
  • Big 12: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah 
  • Big Ten: Oregon, UCLA, USC, Washington
  • SEC: Oklahoma, Texas

The two remaining members of the Pac-12, Oregon State and Washington State, have a football scheduling partnership with the Mountain West Conference, and a separate deal with the West Coast Conference for basketball and other sports.

More Moves to Come?

Two of the biggest remaining pieces for future realignment center around Florida State and Notre Dame.

FSU is leading a lawsuit against the ACC so that it can leave the conference before 2036 without paying more than $500 million in exit fees. Clemson is also challenging the ACC in court, and the conference has counteresued both schools. If FSU and Clemson were successful in departing, that could set up a battle between the Big Ten and SEC for two more high-profile members.

Golden Dome

Meanwhile, Notre Dame remains the most lucrative potential catch of them all, so long as it continues to stay independent. The iconic school recently extended its media rights deal with NBC Sports and hired the network’s chairman as its new athletic director. 

That new deal, which runs until 2029, lines up with the Big Ten’s broadcast deals that expire that same season. The conference has long been seen as a logical landing spot for Notre Dame if it decides to join one. If FSU and/or Clemson move out of the ACC, that could put more pressure on the Fighting Irish to reconsider staying independent.

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