As of late, it’s been quite difficult to shoot the breeze on college football without the monster that is conference realignment becoming a prominent talking point. That was the case entering the 2023 season, but it’s colossally worse this time around, as the upcoming shift will completely eradicate the Pac-12 and its 20 percent stake in what was formerly known as the Power Five.
Along with the 12 Pacific programs splitting up, we’ll also see two of the most historically dominant programs in college football history, Oklahoma and Texas, leave the Big 12 for the SEC (a league widely considered to be the toughest in the college football landscape).
And then, on top of them, we have the American Athletic Conference’s SMU Mustangs climbing the ladder, hitting Power Five status for the first time ever by joining the ACC.
So yes, 2024 is going to have quite a lot of familiar faces in unfamiliar places. Are we as fans bound to experience the negative effects we’ve often seen tied to that fact? Perhaps. However, you must admit that it does make for some interesting storylines. In fact, I’ll take things a step further: it’s going to do so in more ways than you think, and sooner.
For most people, the only sources of optimism to choose from are revived rivalries and what could eventually become new ones, and though both are cool, some of the teams included in them are far more watchable than that, and not due to just a couple of noteworthy opponents here and there. Rather, it’s captured by their entire 2024 schedules.
There are three teams in particular that I wish to look at today in hopes of proving that point — Texas, Washington, and SMU. Why these teams? Because they all have one thing in common: They’re each executing their move to a new Power Five league while coming off a conference championship win. And why does that make them so special? Because it highlights visible superiority over their former leagues.
With all of that in mind, I challenged myself to find out which squad is the best-equipped to win its new conference in 2024. Asking that of any of them is obviously a tall order, as they are all relocating to conferences that are considerably tougher than their previous ones, but that’s where the fun comes in: If one of them were to pull it off, which would it most likely be and why?
Unfortunately, the mission was not as challenging as I had anticipated, yet the result of my research would likely raise a fair amount of eyebrows without context — it’s Texas.