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Conference Realignment Era: The Losers

By Tom Fornelli | College Football Writer

With the five power conferences apparently stable (for now), we look at the winners and losers in this particular era of conference realignment. Below: The Losers.

1. The Big East

I don't think anybody or anything lost more than the Big East. Before Colorado and Nebraska both announced they'd be leaving the Big 12 for the Pac-10 and Big Ten respectively in June 2010, the Big East was one of the six BCS conferences. No matter what happened, or how poorly the product on the field was, the Big East knew it would get its cut of the BCS pie at the end of the day.

But conference realignment changed all that, as the other power conferences began picking the Big East apart once the dominoes began to fall. Of all the member schools in the Big East in June 2010 only Connecticut, Cincinnati and South Florida will be members of the new American Athletic Conference when the College Football Playoff begins.

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2. Connecticut, South Florida and Cincinnati

While these three schools remain in what was the Big East, odds are they're not happy about it. Both Cincinnati and South Florida left Conference USA for the Big East in 2005 to move up in the world and play for BCS glory. Cincinnati has had more success in that pursuit, but come this fall both schools will find themselves right back in a new version of Conference USA, complete with a patriotic moniker.

Then there's Connecticut, which was a founding member of the conference but only moved up from the FCS level to FBS football in 2000 and joined the Big East in football in 2014. Historically the school has always been a basketball school. UConn's greatest football feat is either getting its butt kicked by Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl or a 20-7 win over South Carolina in the 2010 PapaJohns.com Bowl. Meanwhile its men's and women's basketball teams have combined to win 11 NCAA titles.

Well, of all the schools that Connecticut has shared a basketball history with in the Big East none will remain in the new American Athletic Conference. They've all either left for the ACC or will be a part of the new Big East basketball conference.

3. The Western Athletic Conference

The Big East was not the only conference to die thanks to conference realignment. While the BCS conferences picked each other apart, the non-BCS conferences were no different, and they all turned their attention to the WAC. Though the difference between the WAC and the Big East is that while the Big East will continue with a new name the WAC has been wiped from the face of the football planet.

The WAC has provided college football with some of its greatest players and wonderful moments, but its remnants will only live on as members of the Mountain West and Conference USA.

4. Rivalry

It took years for college football to adapt a playoff format, as its opponents always cried about the tradition of the sport and how that tradition had to be preserved. Well, nobody seemed to give a damn about that tradition while conferences raided and pillaged their brethren for new teams.

Rivalries are some of the greatest traditions this great game has, but thanks to realignment we've lost some of the best the sport knows. The Backyard Brawl between Pittsburgh and West Virginia, the Border War between Kansas and Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado's annual Thanksgiving time date, and of course Texas and Texas A&M. All rivalries that were destroyed by conference realignment, and while they might be rekindled again some day they'll never truly be the same.

5. Dan Beebe

In 2010 Dan Beebe had a pretty sweet gig. He was the commissioner of the Big 12, which is a hell of a job if you can get it. Just ask any conference commissioner. Well, then things started to get not-so-sweet.

Shortly after Texas announced it would be starting its own television network and not sharing any of the money, schools began leaving the conference. Nebraska and Colorado left and they were followed by Missouri and Texas A&M. In fact, the Big 12 was the original Big East of conference realignment, as the conference seemed on the brink of collapse before the schools kindly asked him to take his leave and Chuck Neinas helped restore sanity before Bob Bowlsby took over for good.

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