The Bishin Cutter wrote:
However, one benefit to further realignment will be the likely promotion of smaller, non-major programs into the debate. That looks most likely in the west, with the Big XII and PAC.
That's a good point to note here, particularly as it relates to the B12 & PAC.
There's so much focus on the "east" side of the country, mainly with current & former BE schools. Yet, there is the substained speculation as to where and when schools such as Rutgers, UCONN, and Louisville shall go. What this means is that the BE still retains schools viewed as appropriate to be fillers for any futher expansion among the so-called Big 5 conferences. I agree, the new playoff-off and top bowl model/system will spur some additional expansion.
There's that huge swath of terrain out west whereby the B12 and PAC don't appear to want to further touch. Granted, the PAC took-in Colorado (former B12 school) & Utah, but nothing further around there looks acceptable to them.
What unfolded in the west, could hardly have worked better for the power conferences. Annoying Boise State and SDSU got picked-off by the BE, the new, unofficial designated buffer conference of "semi-haves" between the "haves" and the "have-nots". Passed-over BYU went independent. The disrupted and re-grouped MWC squeaking for recognition to be among the big boys got greatly subdued.
So, the future may be (from a bit of the cynical standpoint), that most any school, from most anywhere, that ultimately wants to try to join the big boys, may first have to audition and do a stint with the Big East and fork out a lot of cash in doing so.
The power conferences don't want to end the BE, it's now their convenient feeder as it has functioned for near a decade. And the days when the big 5 power conferences may be extracting from each other could be largely over. The default feeder-system structure is almost fully in place and has been operational.