In sports, like in life, things change. The NFL used to be a 10 team league. The NBA used to be an 8 team league. The NHL used to be a 6 team league. They are not anymore. Things change.
College sports conferences used to be very small and very regional. The Big 6 became the Big 8. The Southwest Conference was 7, then added Tech and Houston. The Pac 8 added Arizona and Arizona St. to form the Pac-10. The Big 10 has grown. The SEC has grown. Things change.
Now, things are really changing. The demise of the Big 12 is the first step in what I believe will be a radical and total reshaping of Division One college football. Think about it this way: things have changed very rapidly in the last 15-20 years. In that time, the Big 12 has come and gone. Other conferences like the WAC and Mountain West and Big East and ACC and C-USA change seemingly all the time. The Big 10 is always looking grow. The haves want more, and they want to distance from the have nots. And it's going to happen in a big way, sooner than you think.
Consider the panic that has set in during the last week. You will, from here on out, see teams constantly trying to set themselves up in a super-conference. Nobody will want to be left out, which will cause things to happen at a rapid pace.
I believe we are headed for four, 20 or 22-team, super-conferences. By the year 2025 at the latest, things will look something like this:
San Diego State
The Big-20 (formerly the Big-10)
(Late editor's note: I just realized that the Super West might really suck in football, and nobody will think they deserve a Final Four bid. I may have to change out a few teams to create balance)
That's it. That is your new Division One. Each football team will play 11 games--4 or 5 against your division mates, 4 or 5 others against rotating members of your super-conference, and a few non-conference games. Then, at the end of the regular season, each conference will have a playoff featuring the four division winners to determine who goes to college football's Final Four.
The Final Four, of course, will feature the four conference champions. The schools will love this format because each conference will make lots of money with their own, four-team playoff. College football will make a ton of money in the end with the Final Four. We will have a playoff, conferences will make a ton of cash, and everyone will be happy--everyone except the former division one schools who got left out. I can't really see that any of the schools left behind would have much of a case, based on program success, revenue, stadium, size, etc. Anyway, that's life. Things change.
Given the events of the last 7 days, the exact configuration of each conference is of course subject to change. I may not hit on all of the teams and their exact landing spots, but I am confident that we will be looking at this kind of set-up. And perhaps a lot sooner than 2025, because things change. They always have in conference and league lineups, and they always will.