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What does Round 2 of conference realignment have in store?

By Tom Fornelli | College Football Writer
Jim Delany liked opening Pandora's Box so much the first time, he's decided to do it again. (US Presswire)

Just when you thought you'd memorized all the college football conferences, Jim Delany and the Big Ten had to go and scramble your brain by hitting you upside the head with Maryland and Rutgers. And if you think that will be the end of this latest round of conference realignment, well, I've got some Big East football stock I'd like to sell you.

Just like he did when he brought Nebraska into the Big Ten, Delany once again has set the wheels of realignment in motion. Maryland and Rutgers will only be part of an ensemble cast in Conference Realignment 2: Electric Boogaloo.

The ACC is already looking for Maryland's replacement, with Connecticut, Louisville, South Florida and Cincinnati as candidates. All four of those schools are from the Big East, which is in the middle of television negotiations while seemingly on the brink of collapse once again.

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At the moment, the ACC needs only to replace Maryland. But it might not be the last school to leave the conference. When the ACC voted to install a $50 million buyout to leave the conference, two schools voted against it.

Those schools were Maryland and Florida State.

You'll remember that there were rumors about Florida State exchanging glances with the Big 12 from across the room before that buyout was in place. Well, if Maryland can afford to pay the $50 million, surely Florida State can, too.

And if you're Florida State, sitting there in the ACC seeing the conference add what will likely be another basketball school -- UConn and Louisville are favored to replace Maryland -- how happy are you to stand pat?

If you're the Big 12, seeing the Big Ten, ACC and SEC all sitting at 14 football teams, how content are you to sit at 10?

The Big 12 might not be in a rush to add anybody at the moment. But if Florida State puts on its little black dress and sends some more signals, don't think for a moment that the Big 12 wouldn't jump at the chance to go home with the Seminoles.

Maybe Florida State will bring its friend Clemson, too, and the Big 12 has the best night of its life.

And if the ACC begins to dissolve, would you trust that Delany and the Big Ten wouldn't go looking for a few more schools? The Big Ten started the first and second round of all this, so why not be the first conference to go full blown super-conference?

Hell, the news that the Big Ten was adding Maryland and Rutgers hadn't even truly hit you yet and there were already rumors that it was after Georgia Tech and North Carolina as well. Why not get in on that Atlanta television market currently packed to the gills with a bunch of crazed college football fans? It's worked pretty well for the SEC.

And if the Big Ten can't get Georgia Tech, how about North Carolina and Duke?

Then if the Big Ten goes to 16 schools, does the SEC want to follow suit?

If the ACC starts hemorrhaging schools, does Notre Dame reconsider its options?

Is the Pac-12 content with its flying cars and 12 schools?

There are so many questions without definite answers. There are no wrong answers at the moment, either. Anything is possible in conference realignment. Willy Wonka would call it a land of pure imagination.

The only thing that we know for sure is that to see where everything is going, all you have to do is follow the money. It will take you there.

 
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