Nov 18, 2021 - Sports

Catching up on the college conference realignment wave

Illustration of the U.S. with arrows around it
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Sister Jean and the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers announced Tuesday that the school will be moving from the Missouri Valley Conference to the Atlantic-10 in 2023.

Why it matters: Loyola-Chicago is the 24th D-I school in the past five months to announce a new league affiliation — a reshuffling that began in July with a shocker: Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC in 2025.

State of play: The Sooners and Longhorns are moving because as good as the Big 12 is, the SEC is better and more lucrative. That decision has had a domino effect, with schools now playing musical chairs.

  • Joining SEC (2025): Oklahoma and Texas (from Big 12)
  • Joining Big 12 (2023): Cincinnati, UCF and Houston (from American); BYU (independent)
  • Joining American (2023): UAB, Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice and UTSA (from C-USA)
  • Joining C-USA (2023): Liberty and New Mexico State (independent); Jacksonville State and Sam Houston (from FCS)
  • Joining Sun Belt (2023): Old Dominion, Southern Miss and Marshall (from C-USA); James Madison (from FCS)
  • FCS moves (2022): Incarnate Word (Southland to WAC); Texas A&M Commerce (D-II Lone Star to Southland); Austin Peay (OVC to A-Sun)
  • Non-football moves (2023): Loyola-Chicago (MVC to A-10)

The big picture: The European Super League may have failed, but the idea behind it — money over everything — is alive and well in America.

  • Oklahoma and Texas will turn the SEC into a 16-team juggernaut, bringing college football closer to creating a super league of its own.
  • New rivalries will be born (or re-born, in the case of Texas-Texas A&M) — but only after old rivalries and beloved traditions die.

The bottom line: This isn't the first, nor will it be the last major wave of realignment. But amid a time of drastic change in college sports, it could end up being the most significant.

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