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Colton Corner’s: The new world of college athletics

Basketball games like Texas State-UTSA would normally be conference match ups but are now regulated to non-conference games with realignment moving away from regionalism.
Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo

Colton Corner’s: The new world of college athletics

Colton McWilliams Sports Editor

Colton Corner’s: The new world of college athletics

A Texas State-Troy soccer game would be inconceivable as a conference game decades ago but is now a annual conference game within the Sun Belt Conference.
Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo

Colton Corner’s: The new world of college athletics

Sunday, July 7, 2024

As midnight struck on July 1, the world of college athletics officially entered a new era.

Texas and Oklahoma became members of the Southern Eastern Conference while Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington are now members of the Big Ten Conference.

SMU, Cal and Stanford moved into the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big 12 Conference added Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah.

The Pac-12 Conference will limp on with their two members Oregon State and Washington State as the conference looks to pick up the pieces from the carnage and destruction left in the wake of the realignment cycle along with its near 100 year history.

In this new era, we have West Virginia and Utah in the same conference as well as USC and Rutgers. Cal and Syracuse will play conference games against each other in all sports with members making thousand mile trips across the country to play volleyball on a Tuesday night.

Though some good did come out of this.

Texas and Texas A&M will renew their 100+ year rivalry once again after petty feuds kept the annual Thanksgiving weekend football game off the schedule books for the past 11 years. Though the powers in charge claimed the rivalry was long dead, the number of the softball, baseball and volleyball games between the two schools told a different story.

Texas also renews a long time rivalry with Arkansas as the powers of the Southwest Conference.

SMU, after being decimated in the aftermath of the Death Penalty that nuked the football program in the 1980s, is now in a power conference. Though not in the Big 12 with Baylor, Houston, TCU and Texas Tech, the Mustangs are still happy to be in the club with the programs they see as their peers.

Texas State, though not affected this year, saw its fair share of realignment changes through the Sun Belt Conference two years ago.

With UTA and Little Rock leaving the conference, the Sun Belt added James Madison, Marshall, Old Dominion and Southern Miss for a 14team conference.

Texas State, now for the first time in its history, was the only Texas school in the conference with conference members in Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and now Mississippi. On top of making trips to Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, the Bobcats have racked up the mileage when it comes to athletic events.

But give credit where credit is due.

The Sun Belt Conference is doing what no other conference is doing right now.

It is keeping the regionalism of college athletics alive.

Despite having 14 members, the conference has done an excellent job of keeping their divisional alignment.

With the East Division consisting of App State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, James Madison, Marshall and Old Dominion and the West Division made up of Arkansas State, Louisiana, Louisiana Monroe, South Alabama, Southern Miss, Texas State and Troy, the conference main focus is allowing those regional matchups be played on a consistent basis.

The same cannot be said for the Big 12, which didn’t schedule Houston-Texas Tech for football but rather Houston- Utah.

Though on a smaller level, the Southland Conference has gone back to their regionalism roots with members just in Louisiana and Texas and added both Stephen F. Austin and UTRGV to the mix.

Regionalism has always been the lifeblood of college athletics, which is why many believe Texas State should be in a conference with North Texas, Sam Houston State and UTSA.

Could that happen one day? Possibly.

Realignment is a fluid beast and no-one knows where we will end up in the next decade.

It’s a new frontier for everyone, and we are in for a wild ride.

cmcwilliams Twitter: @ColtonBMc

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