Regardless if college football is played in 2020, the game has lost important rivalries. Let’s take a deeper look at the top rivalries missing in 2020.
The status of the 2020 season is currently in question due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Universities are currently completing spring semester virtually and each state is currently taking a different approach in handling the situation. University presidents are unclear as to if and when students will return for the fall semester and with uncertainty facing every aspect of our lives, the status of the upcoming college football season is in question.
Some administrators are optimistic over the future of the upcoming season while some do not believe there is any chance for fall athletics. There may be a season without fans or the season may start on a delayed schedule in the spring semester. While we cannot predict the outcome of the pandemic and its impact to our everyday lives, there are certain rivalries with have grown up watching that have since ended for other reasons.
The college football landscape has undergone significant changes the past decade. From conference realignment to the end of the BCS and beginning of the playoff, scheduling and the approach taken by athletic departments has permanently changed the matchups we see each season.
Long-time rivalries have ended due to tv money and interconference pettiness while ever changing playoff qualification metrics like strength of record, out of conference play and the “eye test” alter each programs goal of making the playoff.
Conference realignment ended years of interstates and border war rivalries as an increased in-conference schedule reduced the amount of slots available for out of conference opponents. Those shifts in conferences also ended any attempt of rescheduling former foes due to long standing frustrations between athletic departments ranging from revenues pay outs to disagreements as old as the Civil War.
College football saw its first significant change in conference alignment during the BCS era in 2004 when Virginia Tech and Miami left the former Big East to join the ACC. Boston College followed a season later and the ACC got its conference championship game. The Big East replaced those programs with Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida but the status of the conference took a major hit. The landscape went relatively unaffected until the 2011 season when conferenced scrapped and clawed over new programs and championship games of their own.
The Big 12 went from 12 to 10 in 2011 after Colorado left for the Pac-10 and Nebraska left for the Big Ten. The Pac-10 also grabbed Utah out of the Mountain West creating a 12-team conference with two divisions and a conference championship game determining the new Pac-12 champion. The Big Ten now with 12 teams had a championship game of its own, generating more money for the conference along with the new Big Ten Network, drawing the attention of other conferences.
The Big 12 took another hit in 2012 when Texas A&M and Missouri shocked the conference leaving for the SEC while TCU and West Virginia were brought in as replacements. The Big 12 has since been at ten programs and the Pac-12 has remained at twelve. The ACC and Big Ten would follow the SEC’s path of a 14-team conference by making additions of their own in 2013, the final season of the BCS.
After losing Maryland to the Big Ten, the ACC expanded to 14 bringing in the Pennsylvania and New York markets through the additions of Pitt and Syracuse, along with Louisville as a direct replacement for Maryland. The Big Ten focused on TV markets with the additions of Maryland and Rutgers, giving the conferences a footprint from Nebraska to the Atlantic coast.
The aftermath has left several programs on the outside of “Power Five football” while the long-term impact has affected every program. Some programs are in conferences with the majority of their in-conference programs sitting in entirely different timezones while others have lost rivalries that had been played in the triple-digits.
We’ve since lost some of the game’s greatest and longest running rivalries since expansion took place in 2004. While we anticipate the next chapter of college football’s long history, let’s take a look at some of the great rivalries we have lost and when they may return.
The following rivalries are ranked based on a number of criteria including length, intensity, history and national and current relevance.