Your Map-Based Guide to the Conference Expansion Season

by PSUglenn on May 12, 2010 · 3 comments

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  • wp socializer sprite mask 32px Your Map Based Guide to the Conference Expansion Season
  • wp socializer sprite mask 32px Your Map Based Guide to the Conference Expansion Season
  • wp socializer sprite mask 32px Your Map Based Guide to the Conference Expansion Season
  • wp socializer sprite mask 32px Your Map Based Guide to the Conference Expansion Season

big ten logo map 300x215 Your Map Based Guide to the Conference Expansion SeasonAs we've blogged here a few times, we are into the 'dead zone' in sports especially college sports.  The most attention capturing thing going on right now for Penn State fans is likely the conference expansion happenings.  This is especially true since the Big Ten seems to be driving this boat (for now), and when you let your imagination run with the scenarios, implications, and benefits to Penn State and the Big Ten, it is truly unbelievable.

While on a forum recently, someone had a link to a simple map of Div-I college football schools across the US.  It was very helpful in terms of contemplating further conference re-alignment scenarios.  So when I decided to Google up more similar maps, I was amazed to find some really cool things.We all know that conference expansion is driven by money and specifically TV contracts and the TV markets that drive them.  But certainly geographic alignment has some bearing on what schools will end up in what conference.  For example, the recent rumor (now claimed to be false) that the Big Ten had given offers to Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Rutgers to join, looks very strategic from a geography point of view to me.

Missouri and Nebraska are natural expansions west for the Big Ten.  This adds St. Louis and football crazy Nebraska to the fold.  Rutgers is a natural expansion east into the New Jersey, Philly, and New York markets, continuing what started with Penn State years ago.  Of course Notre Dame is Notre Dame.


When you start to think about the other conference realignment scenarios and 'dominos' that may fall, visualizing them on a conference map can help.  Here is the first two I came across:  Intro to American Football - College Football Map.  This is a simple map that has helmet locations for schools.  Tor example, it immediately shows how many football playing schools are clustered in the Midwest.  Sconefest.com - simple logo based maps by conference.

A better map that color codes the schools by conference can be found at southerncollegesports.com.  This map makes it clear that some conferences struggle with 'geography' more than others.  By looking at this map, the Big 12 and the west coast conferences are much more geographically disperse with several teams that live in the footprint than others.  Look how far Louisiana Tech has to travel to play its conference games in the WAC.  This is probably your goto map as this conference expansion season plays out.

college football conference map Your Map Based Guide to the Conference Expansion Season

But there is much more.  By far the most elaborate and detailed maps can be found at billsportsmaps.com - Big Ten.  This site has beautifully done maps for almost any sport, and the maps are designed to incorporate facts and figures along with geographic information.  If you want to get smarter on any sport, conference, tournament, or league, this site likely has a detailed map you can reference.  Besides drilling in the Big Ten and other college football maps, I dove into the UEFA Champions League maps because I also happen to be a big European Soccer fan.

big ten football map Your Map Based Guide to the Conference Expansion Season

Please don't click this next link unless you have some serious time to kill.  I spent considerable time on the Commoncensus Sports Map Project website looking at the results of their fascinating study.  Of course you are familiar with all the bickering that's done in sports over who has the most rabid fan base, and how far they extend?  This site has an analysis that puts some science behind it.  For the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and most importantly NCAA, you can look at the results in a map format to see how far the geography of each team's fan base extends (click on the map to use the zoom feature).  To give you some advance info, Penn State pretty much owns the state of Pennsylvania besides a the fringes.NCAA fan study map Your Map Based Guide to the Conference Expansion Season

Of course the other critical component to geography when it comes to college football programs is geography.  If you can recruit the best talent from your or any other geography, you can do well.  Plus, different teams have different philosophies in terms of sticking to more local recruiting vs national recruiting.  If you want to get a sense of where a schools recruits are coming from, check out this map at MapGameDay.com.  You can map the 2009 recruits for any school using a drop down and see how they are dispersed.

Just as interesting, you can map all the recruits for a conference.  One thing I noticed is that while conferences tend to get kids from their coverage areas, just about every BCS conference recruits Florida.  You can also map out all the players recruited in a state.  In Pennsylvania, the talent in 2009 was concentrated in the city and suburbs.

Finally, if you want to buy a map similar to the ones above, there is an e-commerce site that sells something similar.  At Heldberg Maps, you can get a Div-I FBS Football Team Map in a few different sizes in laminated form.  I only saw the 2009 version, but I assume they'll be coming out with a 2010 version eventually.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Shela Katra June 13, 2010 at 12:07 am

I’m shocked that Big Red is joining the Big 10. This upcoming year promises to be challenging for the competition. Whew!

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Bill Turianski July 11, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Thanks for the link and the kind words about my site.
Sincerely, Bill T. @ http://billsportsmaps.com

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Dan Hangers May 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I remember when the B1G used to be relevant…

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