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CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Shake-up of conferences is a relentless mind boggler

It's difficult to concentrate on the games as rumors of more realignments swirl around.

October 15, 2011|Chris Dufresne
  • Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller catches the ball over Baylor defender Joe Williams during the Aggies' 55-28 victory Saturday.
Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller catches the ball over Baylor defender… (Jon Eilts / Associated Press )

Texas A&M (Acquisitions and Mergers) summed up a madcap weekend of mind-numbing conference realignment confusion with a video-game win over Baylor in which the schools combined for 83 points and 1,151 yards.

If you think that's wild, you should see the 22-egg omelet the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA are trying to cook up.

Texas A&M's victory goes into the Big 12 Conference's bank account, even though Aggie fans at Kyle Field ended the game with chants of "SEC! SEC!"

"That's next year," linebacker Sean Porter said of his school's impending move. "We still want to focus on this year."

How does anyone focus on anything?

Simplicity these days, outside of Ohio State's playbook, is a rarity. The Buckeyes completed one pass in Saturday's 17-7 win at Illinois. It went for a touchdown and you know Woody Hayes would have said, "Now that's Big Ten football."

The rest of the sport needs to be taken to the wood shed.

Boise State, still unpacking crates from the Western Athletic Conference, made its Mountain West debut at Colorado State on Saturday as rumors swirled it could be headed to the Big East Conference.

The Broncos shrugged off outside interference and so thoroughly crushed the Rams of Fort Collins, 63-13, they might next consider the Rams of St. Louis.

Utah, limping through the Pacific 12 Conference after moving from the Mountain West, mounted a huge comeback win at Pittsburgh, a member of the Big East for now but headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference … some day.

Michigan State earned its fourth straight victory against arch-rival Michigan in a battle of the Big Ten's newly divided, 12-team league.

"To do that for a fourth straight time is really amazing," Spartans' Coach Mark Dantonio said.

More amazing would be anybody who can match each Big Ten team to its division.

Michigan State is a member of the "Legends" division. There's also a "Leaders" side, but that's where clarity ends. The winners of the two ledgers face off in December in Indianapolis … or maybe it's Annapolis or Minneapolis.

The U.S. tax code might be easier to follow.

The first Bowl Championship standings, to be released Sunday, used to be the ultimate ice cream brain freeze with its decimal point dumbness, computer rankings percentage and code-book manual sentences that read, "Team percentages are derived by dividing a team's actual ranking points by a maximum 2,825 possible points in the Harris Interactive Poll …"

Compared to the realignment, though, the BCS is beginner math: Finally, something we can understand.

Everything college football does these days seems to be followed by a blank stare and the response, "Huh?"

Friday, the Mountain West and Conference USA announced they were forming a 22-team alliance in football.

They announced this knowing that number may change depending on how many schools the Big East may end up poaching.

"I'm just trying to create stability," Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said on a Friday conference call.

If it works, Thompson should consider taking over Afghanistan.

The MW-CUSA alliance is the survival equivalent to stocking up on canned goods and candles as part of Earthquake Preparedness Week.

This merger swath stretches from Honolulu to East Carolina. The hope is that melding conferences and staging a title game will better position both leagues for something less worse in an uncertain future.

All of it, though, is a colossal mind boggler.

Five of the schools mentioned as part of the MW-CUSA merger — Boise State, Air Force, Houston, Southern Methodist and Central Florida — are reportedly on the verge of being invited to the Big East. The Big East will be down to six football-playing schools when Pittsburgh and Syracuse leave for the ACC.

The NCAA says you need eight teams, though, to call yourself a league.

Three of the schools the Mountain West is already folding into a proposed 22-team league that may end up 18 or 19 or 20 aren't Mountain West members yet.

Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada, presently in the WAC, don't join until next season.

Friday, WAC holdover San Jose State pulled of a big upset over Hawaii, which was presumably a bad loss for the WAC/Mountain West/Conference USA/Diamond Head.

With all these conference conditions, asterisks, warnings and qualifiers, college football sometimes looks like fine print on the back of a pill bottle.

What about Temple?

The Owls are leading the Mid-American Conference with a 5-2 record after Saturday's 34-0 win over Buffalo.

Temple appeared on the cusp of a major "Rocky" Philadelphia story comeback with reports the Owls would be invited back to the Big East seven years after being kicked out for football incompetence.

ESPN reported Saturday, though, that Temple was not among the five schools the Big East is considering but could be reconsidered as a fallback in case things fall apart.

Shouldn't that actually make Temple a shoo-in?

What about Missouri?

Missouri, as the sun set, was still in the Big 12. The Tigers dominated Iowa State, 52-17, on Saturday as the football world awaits word on whether they will become the third school nicknamed Tigers to play in the SEC.

Just so you know: People say if Missouri leaves the Big 12, things could get complicated.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

twitter.com/dufresnelatimes

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