Greatness! This was a terrific read! As you stated in your opening paragraph the status quo probably is in the nothern schools best interest in terms of conference leadership, but not money.
The Big XII North division breaks off to form its own conference, call it the Big North Conference. They look east and add 4 from the Big Ten:
Big North Conference:
All 10 top-125 academic schools according to US News and World Report. Why would Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota leave the Big Ten for a conference with smaller markets? These four schools could potentially dominate the Big North, instead of staying in the shadows of Michigan and Ohio State in the Big Ten (despite the fact that Illinois went to the Rose Bowl this year). TV markets are one thing, but competing in big games gives direct exposure to the university.
The only scenario that would have the Colorado and Missou going with the Northern schools would be if they can draw enough markets from incoming schools to offset the huge loss of Texas and academically giving them a similar esteem bump. Your scenario really doesn't fail either criteria too badly.
Academically and financially, I can't see anyone leaving the big 10 though. Athletically and in terms of conference control though, I am sure a small part of the movers and shakers at the B10 schools you mentioned have considered it. Moves are not always deeply thought out and well considered. Sometimes the people at the top are influenced by emotion and make the wrong call. Sometimes the fringe thinkers run the school.
I still can't see it happening, but as scenarios go it isn't a bad one if we are talking in very vague terms of a Big XII North breakaway. This would have to be spurred by anger at the Big 10. Perhaps the commisioner overstepping again? Perhaps Ohio St., Michigan, and Penn St. exerting what might be seen as unfair influence on the financial dispersments or doing something the other schools find harshly objectionable?
For this scenario to work, there has to be a spur for the Big 10 4 to break away from much more financially lucrative Big 10 and that currently doesn't seem to exist --- as far as I can see.
The Big Ten gets to expand to the east, and forms a top academic conference in the major eastern markets, and a mix of public and privates.
Big Ten West:
Big Ten East:
Despite having 12 members they keep the name Big Ten for historical reasons (and to annoy everyone who says they can't count).
I think this is not likely. ND rejects the Big 10 as is, they won't want in after the Big 10 takes a PR hit of that magnitude. Additionally, I think the Pac 10 would encourage them to go 10 again. In this scenario, (granting total loyalty in the ranks of your Big North ---that Missou would not immediately bolt for the Big 10), I would think:
That makes the Big 10 footprint every important school (athletically AND Academically important) from NY to Chicago.
The Big 12 South needs to replenish their ranks. Not enough schools to form FiniteMan's Top 10 conference, so the 6 schools of the former Big 12 adds four mountain schools and becomes the Central Conference.
Honestly, I don't know what UT would do if a conference bolted on THEM. It would generate a ton of anger and I think you would see a VERY HOT UT & A&M come out of it. How would that effect the outcome?
The assumption is with the Big XII South still intact, Baylor and Tech would probably still have enough legislative clout to hold that together as the basis of a conference. In that scenario, Arkansas gets more money from the SEC and the conference is an academically lesser conference, so they won't bolt. Stuck with Baylor, the conference would be open to privates. I think Baylor would champion TCU to give the privates more legislative clout in Texas, but UT would successfully block that. Utah and BYU would be likely adds. CSU would be added to bridge them and because they offer the Denver Market. UT would want to punish Colorado and would probably insist on it. I think UT would block any new poor academic or athletic Texas school though. I don't see any way the conference isn't called the SWC at that point. 9 Teams would be ideal for scheduling.
That is assuming UT and A&M alums are not pissed though. I think they would be totally pissed. They were not that mad at the end of the SWC. This would be the second time that (In their opinion) crap schools and small privates killed their desires to be in a top tier conference. That could give rise to an over the top money grab.
I could see UT approaching A&M and OU about raiding the SEC. They could make a compelling arguement that lesser schools have hurt them and could use that to escape tech and OSU. If they cut a deal with Baylor to bring them along, bailing on Tech and the Big XII south would sail through the state legislature. If nothing else, Baylor has proven they are the BC of the south. They will cut a deal at a moment's notice.
UT, OU, Baylor, and A&M is a salty block. They could walk into the SEC and say, "break away from the Missisippi schools and you get the Texas and Oklahoma Markets". It would also make a ton of financial sense to grab Virginia and VT for all of the Virginia markets and DC.
The ACC needs a replacement for BC, so they tap South Florida and realign their own divisions.
North Carolina State
If virginia and VT were raided and the Big East elite were gone, I could see the ACC seriously considering dropping BC for a more regionally sensible 9 team conference or replacing them with WV, but ultimately deciding build on the staus quo and to go for growth adding WV, UCONN, USF, and UCF.
North Carolina State
The Big East regroups with second and third-tier schools:
I think the Big East basketball teams would pull the plug on the big east football conference. I don't think they would want to maintain voting balance with a bunch of strangers. Louisville would want put together a new Eastern Conference that would be based on media markets, louisville friendliness, and mature athletic programs, not academics, but would be up against the 6/5 rule. I think this would drive a split of CUSA, with USF gone, the west would break away, effectivley taking the automatic bid. IMO Memphis and UAB would go with them. Louisville would have to raid the MAC or Sunbelt for the remaining conference members or coax App State or UMass up.
Temple (FB only)
The western schools all realign again under the WAC umbrella
San Jose State
San Diego State
New Mexico State
If BYU, Utah, and CSU were raided, it seems very reasonable.
The current C-USA West breaks off to form the new Southwest Conference and adds TCU, North Texas, LA Tech, and three FCS callups:
If the Texas schools went west, who knows if CUSA changes much besides ECU moving on and someone replacing them.
If they go east, The MWC exists. I think CUSA West would breakaway and would become the SWC.
I think in this scenario, the MAC would continue relatively unmolested and the Sunbelt would continue to gently coax members up from FCS, like UTSA and Texas State.
* Lamar, Texas State and UT-San Antonio promoted from FCS (this is supposed to be in the best interest of the northern states but somehow ends up promoting three Texas schools!)
Well, what's good for Texas...lol!
Seriously though, UTSA moving up is good for Texas. Texas State moving up is not good or bad, but could go either way. Sam Houston argueably might have legit FBS aspirations, but Lamar has no place in FBS. I recognize they drew 25K back in the day when they played at the top level, but they are a small public with no media market. It will be hell for them to ever get above sunbelt level and they may have problems getting into the sunbelt at all. They SHOULD be playing FCS though. They need to push FCS like they would push FBS and really sell it to the locals. Play a national schedule in FCS. Build a 30K stadium. Play App State OOC. Play Delaware. Play Montana. Play Northern Iowa. Play UMASS. Play NDSU. (Well financially you couldn't do them all, but try to get 2 big names FCS each year.)Play some low level local sunbelt schools.