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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

UConn recently announced that it's leaving the American Athletic Conference to rejoin the Big East (in all sports besides football) — a fitting full-circle moment to what was a "Decade of Realignment" in college sports.

Rewind: In 2010, TV money was exploding, and universities were suddenly willing to abandon traditions and extinguish rivalries in the name of revenue.

The first wave (2010):

  • That summer, Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott was on a mission to steal Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Colorado from the Big 12 and build a super conference called the Pac-16.
  • Scott's grand plan hinged on Texas, so when the Longhorns decided to stay in the Big 12, everything fell apart. Colorado was the only Big 12 school to accept the offer, and Utah joined from the Mountain West a few days later, forming what is now the Pac-12.
  • Meanwhile, the Big Ten was also looking to expand and chose Nebraska as its 12th member.

The second wave (2011–14):

  • Musical chairs: The Big 12 lost Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC and replaced them with TCU and West Virginia ... the Big Ten added Rutgers and Maryland .... and the ACC raided the Big East, adding Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Louisville and Notre Dame (not football or hockey).
  • Musical chairs (cont'd): The Big East's "Catholic seven" responded by separating from the football-playing schools, and the remaining members of the Big East (Cincinnati, South Florida, and UConn) left to form the American Athletic Conference.

The big picture: Nine years later, every conference in America is still feeling the ripples of realignment. Which begs the question: Who won and who lost? The list is long but here are a few...

Biggest winners:

  • Big East: "A conference built on basketball found itself abandoned by football, then regrouped and went back to what made it great to begin with. … And now UConn comes back," writes Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde. Kudos to the Big East for emerging from the realignment grinder with its soul intact.
  • TCU: From 2000 to 2011, the Horned Frogs spent time in the WAC (1996–2000), Conference USA (2001–2004) and the Mountain West (2005–2011). Now, they're a football powerhouse in the Big 12. They win.

Biggest losers:

  • Texas: The Longhorns' football and basketball programs have been far worse this decade than last decade and Texas A&M's move to the SEC has hurt them in recruiting.
  • Big Ten additions: Nebraska has struggled mightily in football (23-27 in past four years); Rutgers is a dumpster fire; and while Maryland has been competitive, sacrificing their Tobacco Road rivalries to play Iowa and Minnesota every other year doesn't feel worth it.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
46 mins ago - Technology

CES was largely irrelevant this year

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Forced online by the pandemic and overshadowed by the attack on the Capitol, the 2021 edition of CES was mostly an afterthought as media's attention focused elsewhere.

Why it matters: The consumer electronics trade show is the cornerstone event for the Consumer Technology Association and Las Vegas has been the traditional early-January gathering place for the tech industry.

The FBI is tracing a digital trail to Capitol rioters

Illustration: Sarah Grillo

Capitol rioters, eager to share proof of their efforts with other extremists online, have so far left a digital footprint of at least 140,000 images that is making it easier for federal law enforcement officials to capture and arrest them.

The big picture: Law enforcement's use of digital tracing isn't new, and has long been at the center of fierce battles over privacy and civil liberties. The Capitol siege is opening a fresh front in that debate.

Off the Rails

Episode 6: Last stand in Georgia

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer, Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 6: Georgia had not backed a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 and Donald Trump's defeat in this Deep South stronghold, and his reaction to that loss, would help cost Republicans the U.S. Senate as well. Georgia was Trump's last stand.

On Air Force One, President Trump was in a mood. He had been clear he did not want to return to Georgia, and yet somehow he'd been conscripted into another rally on the night of Jan. 4.