CS Long Beach
San Diego State
San Jose State
UC Santa Barbara
New Mexico State
Northern Utah (Weber)
If I may have your attention [clears throat]. If you are the Sun Belt Conference, and your membership has historically been schools in the Southeast, and your identity has been built around that fact, why would you have teams from Idaho and New Mexico? I beg of you, look at a map. I understand that the Sun Belt has been pinned under the wheels of the realignment frenzy, and obviously felt they needed to grab any available schools while they could just to survive (even those in Moscow), but Idaho and New Mexico St as Sun Belt members is Exhibit A that this realignment fiasco has not worked. Traditional rivalries are out the window and geographic sensibilities are stretched to their breaking point. Now take a look at ICFB's Sun Belt: seven directional schools that are the heart of the conference; FAU and FIU; three city schools in Birmingham, Jacksonville and Charlotte. Boom. Sun Belt.
The Ivy League is the Ivy League is the Ivy League …… wait, before we get into the mechanics, let’s celebrate the fact that the Ideal Ivy will be joining the world, not only in opening up their schedules to non-regional games, but also inclusion in the playoffs! Long overdue, right? Many huzzahs are in order. And fornication. Now, really the only consideration I had in setting up the Ivy is the number of schools. The Ivy League has, since the dawn of time and civilization, been an eight-team conference. My stipulation that every conference contain at minimum 10 schools led to a conundrum. What to do, what to do. It was actually quite easy: add Colgate and Fordham. The Raiders have an active and existing rivalry with Cornell, and the Rams are located in the boroughs of New York very close to Columbia. Both schools seem/feel like natural fits for the Ivy, if it were ever going to expand. So, we have our 10-team Ivy League, and the world remains on its present axis.
ICFB Southland and NCAA Southland dovetail fairly nicely. Seven current members and five former members comprise the Southland Conference that will be competing in Ideal. Sam Houston and Stephen F Austin are here. McNeese and Nicholls are here. Lamar is here. (Is it just me, or does this conference sound like The League of Dead Southern Generals?) All four of the Louisiana directional schools are here because, y’know what – they belong together, and they deserve to have their directional names restored. It is the only decent and cool thing to do. Texas St, North Texas and South Texas are here (the latter renamed for obvious conference continuity; besides, I abhor hyphenated names, and have eliminated them whenever possible). There is your Southland Conference, folks. Enjoy.
IDEAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL
East Tennessee State
The Missouri Valley does have a convoluted history involving several previous configurations. We’re going to dispense with the mess and get right to it. ICFB’s MoVal is going to closely (though not entirely) conform to the basketball MVC – at least until that conference also began hemorrhaging teams (yes, the madness extends into basketball, as well; we’ll fix that somewhere down the road). Our MVC will contain familiar faces (Ill St, Indy St, Mo St, UNI, SIU). We’re bringing Tulsa back into the fold, because we can and it makes sense. We’re bringing Drake into the fold, because we can and it makes perfect sense. Wichita and Evansville are getting their teams back from the grave (yay), while Bradley and Creighton are getting brand new teams (huzzah). This is the Missouri Valley that gives and gives and keeps on giving.
Who reading this remembers the Yankee Conference? One…two...okay, several of you. Not bad. The Yankee was originally formed in the 1940’s with the six state schools of New England, and maintained that configuration for a few decades. Conceptually, it is beautiful. Needless to say, we are bringing the Yankee back, although under the moniker North Atlantic Conference (not to be confused with the small NCAA D-III conference of the same name that doesn’t sponsor football). ICFB’s North Atlantic was inspired by the Yankee Conference (which, for all intents and purposes, disbanded in 1997), and by the original NCAA North Atlantic that spawned from the ECAC-North in 1988. Keeping all this straight? There will be a test later. We include the aforementioned six New England state schools (yes, Catamount football is back), add Delaware, throw in Boston and Northeastern (both back from the dead), mix in some Buffalo (this is where the Bulls belong) and, for good measure, award a team to Hartford. This is the iteration of the North Atlantic that coulda/shoulda been.
Austin Peay State
Southeast Missouri State
West Tennessee State (UTMartin)
Middle Tennessee State
Compared to a lot of conferences, the Ohio Valley has been fairly stable over the years. The O-Val you’ll see in ICFB features eight schools that are in the football side of the NCAA conference, plus Morehead St (scholarship issues in real life, not an issue here), plus Western Illinois (should always be paired with Eastern Illinois), capped off by Youngstown St. Inclusion of the Penguins may be the most controversial aspect of our OVC, if controversy is your thing and you're lookin' to stir up trouble. Please don't do that. Stirring up trouble is clearly my job.
Northeast Louisiana (ULM)
Sam Houston State
South Texas (UTSA)
Southwestern Louisiana (ULL)
Stephen F Austin
The Southern Conference has the distinction of being the progenitor of two of the most powerful conferences in the land: the ACC and the SEC. Seriously, check out the history of this conference when you have a chance. It is mind-boggling to look at the early membership in the SoCon. Makes you wonder what might have been had history veered in a different direction. Fast forward to modern times, and imagine how much stronger the Southern would be had the more recent powers not left. Marshall, Georgia Southern and Appalachian St - FCS heavyweights all - have all dropped out for a chance to play at the higher level. That motivation does not exist in Ideal College Football; conference continuity and traditional rivalries are more important. Thus, these three schools are back in the SoCon. Add to this current members Furman, Citadel, Samford, Wofford, Chattanooga, ETSU and WCU. Georgia St is added, and now we have both GSU’s together. And Troy is the final piece of the puzzle, as the Trojans are also a great fit for the SoCon. Lemme tell ya one thing: this is going to be a powerhouse league.
The Big Sky is a far-flung league covering many of the state schools from the mountain West…except those who are in the Mountain West. Ahem. Anyhoo, the Big Sky has from the beginning been most synonymous with the Idaho and Montana schools. Which makes Idaho’s odyssey, set to come full circle next year, ill-advised. As the ancient aphorism says: Know Thyself, Fool (or something like that). The Vandals have always belonged in the Sky. State and directional schools are what the Big Sky is all about, thus the ‘city schools’ belong elsewhere (see Big West below). Montana, Montana St, Idaho, Idaho St, Nevada (returning to the Sky…as it should be), NAU, EWU, UNC, SUU, NUU (Weber – the first of the name changes I alluded to). Utah St and New Mexico St have been, for much of their NCAA D-I existence, nomads. The Big Sky is their obvious home, and I’m kinda surprised it hasn’t happened yet. Ideal makes it happen. USU and NMSU become the 11th & 12th members of ICFB’s Big Sky, and we’re off & running with a power-packed and cohesive conference that should be well-represented in the D2 playoffs.
The Big West (nee PCAA) has had a shifting landscape for most of its existence. Many schools have come and gone, which is not unique among college athletic conferences. What makes the Big West’s story tragic is that it stopped sponsoring football after the 2000 season. I say tragic because the Big West could be a magnificent football conference. Let me show you how. With the Mountain West and Big Sky accounting for the state schools of the intermountain / continental divide area, the Big West is a perfect locale for the major ‘city schools’ of the West. Boise St is a natural fit here, as is Fresno, San Jose, Portland, Sacramento…and SDSU. I was tempted to leave the Broncos in the Big Sky, and the Aztecs in the Mountain West, but they are so much better here. The more I looked at it, the more it felt like this was a conference begging to be created. In addition, the Big West is the first conference in which an array of defunct teams are brought back to life. It is one of ICFB’s core missions to bring football back to those campuses where it rolled up and left, so…..welcome back Long Beach 49’ers, Fullerton Titans, Pacific Tigers, Santa Barbara Gauchos and Northridge Matadors. And while we’re throwing out life rafts, wouldn’t it be fun to have Anteater football? Everybody extend a warm welcome to UC Irvine as they join the world of college football. Like I said, begging.
Copyright © Steven Sugarman