Monday Happy Hour is bracing for the future

Big XII bound? (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Every time you get comfortable with the state of college football's current conference alignment, things just go and change a little more. It seemed that going into this summer that the only significant changes would be on the lower levels of the FBS. The WAC was by all accounts put to sleep while the Big East continued grasping at straws in a futile attempt to remain relevant. Meanwhile, the Big Ten, SEC, and Pac-12 all had stability and profitability after the last couple years of moves. Things seemed calm, but all was not quiet on the western front.

It seems now that the Big XII is finally making its play to firmly establish itself as one of the Big Four. Two years after nearly losing half of its membership and a year removed from what seemed like a possible death knell, the conference has moved onto the offensive. After reports surfaced that Florida State was unhappy -- and rightfully so -- with the ACC's latest TV deal, there were rumblings that the 'Noles could be Big XII bound. Now, with the announcement of an SEC/Big XII bowl partnership to rival the Rose Bowl, it seems that the wheels on the next round of conference realignment might already be turning according to some reports (I'm not familiar with this site, so take this with a grain of salt until there is further corroboration).

A move by Florida State and Clemson to the Big XII would be a clear hit to the prestige of the ACC and could trigger another wave of moves as the Big Ten and SEC pick through the rest of the depleted conference to shore up their ranks. Two years ago we narrowly avoided the rapid proliferation of super conferences, but the way things are looking right now it wouldn't be hard to believe that within three to five years the top four conferences (Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12, Big XII) will all be 14- to 16-team super conferences with media rights deals that far outweigh that of the rest of the lower rungs of college football.

The losers in all of this? The Big East, first and foremost, which isn't even in a position to fight back. The northeastern conference is for all intents and purposes a basketball conference once more, one that moonlights in C-USA level football. The ACC could find itself on the outside looking in, or worse yet, stripped of most of its valuable assets and left for dead.

The other losers are tradition and the regional flavor of the college game. Whether you will pine for that or welcome a new, national focus to college football is a discussion for another time.

Right now all we can do as watch the future take shape.

Let's go to the links, shall we?

Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges still advocating for expanding Devin Gardner's role next year

"I think you have to struggle before you do well," Borges said. "If he just jumped in there and romped and stomped, I don't know if that's the real world. The real world of quarterback is usually you have to go through some bumps in the road, and it's better he does it in the spring than when everyone's watching."

Looks like Devin Gardner and the goofy two-quarterback packages aren't going anywhere this year. With Gardner's emergence as a legitimate receiving threat this shouldn't be a surprise.

Michigan's Lewan maturing into a leader - This is an older link, but if you haven't read it yet you should take the time to do so. Taylor Lewan is the best hope this team has for a first round draft pick in the near future, and he is unquestionably the most important lineman on the team this year (and hopefully next). Good to see he is progressing mentally as well as physically.

Michigan’s recruiting success recognized by national media - UMHoops runs down some of the national praise for Michigan's incoming basketball class and next year's class. I am excited to see what John Beilein can do with top-ten recruiting classes after winning so long with much less.

Year of unemployment helped Al Borges create his Denard Robinson-led Michigan hybrid offense - I wish I got as much use out of my year of unemployment. All I did was start a blog and rack up a bunch of credit card debt.

Rural Meyer, A Spring Q+A with Luke Zimmermann At Land-Grant Holy Land Regarding Ohio State Football - Luke Zimmermann talks shop with Cal Golden Blogs.

B1G revenues estimated to keep rising - Remember, Jim: mo' money, mo' problems.

What's Your College Football Program Worth? Introducing Realignment Value Rankings - Jason Kirk over at the mothership figures out how to value programs in the days of conference realignment fever.

The Expanding Reach of Alabama Recruiting - I understand that all anyone ever wants to talk about when you bring up Alabama recruiting is the evils of oversigning, but that overlooks one of the most interesting aspects of recruiting: demographics. Talent is not distributed equally amongst the states, and this is the reason that certain programs are at an advantage (it is no coincidence that Texas, Florida, California, and Ohio have produced some of most dominant football teams of the past decade). See how Nick Saban and his staff adjust their recruiting focus to different areas of the southeast.

'The Essential Smart Football' - Question And Answer With Author Chris Brown Of SmartFootball.com

What I find too is that people really enjoy the analysis because it gives them a better understanding of players. If you understand the difference between Cover 3 and Quarters coverage, and the defense gives up a big touchdown, you will be able to identify who made the mistake and who didn't. Often the announcers get that wrong too, with a zoomed-in close-up of some poor defensive back who did nothing wrong. The same goes for offense, particularly the offensive line. Plus, once you understand those little games within the game, it opens up a whole new world where you can see -- in real time -- new tactics and changes in strategy, personnel and technique differences, and how players and coaches are exploiting weaknesses or getting exploited.

You haven't bought the Smart Football book yet? Shame on you.

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