North Texas Daily

COLUMN: How football can traverse the enigma of conference realignment

COLUMN: How football can traverse the enigma of conference realignment

COLUMN: How football can traverse the enigma of conference realignment
August 10
12:00 2021

Who knew a letter could cause such chaos and uncertainty as the July 27 letter the University of Texas and University of Oklahoma sent to the Southeastern Conference just over a week ago.

Sent to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, the letter contained both universities requesting “invitations for membership of the Southeastern Conference.” It came as affirmation to reports of Texas and Oklahoma wanting out of the Big 12 Conference and brought craze to college football social media communities across the country.

North Texas was not an outlier in the instant panic which took place as pundits, professional and amateur, took to giving theories on what could happen to the Mean Green. 

Conference USA commissioner Judy Macleod did not offer much of a guiding arrow in terms of what the future holds for C-USA teams in a brief statement, but assured the conference would “position [C-USA] institutions collectively.” What that means is up for interpretation, but the statement did not quell the minds of C-USA universities or their fanbases. 

So, with a conference seemingly as uncertain of the future as its member institutions, what do schools like North Texas need to do to ensure they have a future in a league which seems destined for realignment?

Firstly, the team needs to control what it can. Just because realignment looms does not make the objective any different — football must win consistently. Like an aspiring actor, the squad is auditioning for a potential future role with its current performance. If college football’s evolution means Group of Five schools are being absorbed into larger conferences, the Mean Green need to show why they belong in one of the new-look leagues. 

As things stand presently, it is reasonable to think C-USA’s frontrunners for “promotion” would be the University of Alabama-Birmingham and Marshall University. Florida Atlantic University would also more than likely be selected before North Texas. The coming years need to contain urgency for success among the Mean Green with football winning and winning often. Without victory, the Mean Green could be left behind.

Football also needs to excel in marketing itself. Love it or hate it, there is no denying profit and marketing are just as important as on-field performance. Facilities are not an issue for the Mean Green as Apogee Stadium is not even a decade old and easily one of the best looking stadiums in C-USA. Football’s downfall comes from how the team markets itself. 

Its social media accounts leave something to be desired. Not including COVID-19 restrictions, attendance has been dismal following 2018. Before 2025, the team needs to find a way to put it all together on the marketing front. After all, they do have a lot to use for marketing. The team’s moniker is the unique “Mean Green,” they have a quirky history which includes changing the name of the university six times and caught lightning in a bottle with one of the most prolific defensive linemen the game has seen in Charles “Mean” Joe Greene. The marketing team has a lot to work with, so it is time to use these tools more effectively to increase value as realignment looms.

Finally, North Texas needs to stay in the loop. That means being attentive to conference rumblings and events. If Conference USA looks doomed, the team must continue to find its way through uncertainty using the utmost caution. Being prepared to move and having destinations in mind could be the difference between joining a borderline power five conference and standing pat in the Group of Five. 

Keeping their options in front of them will assure the Mean Green a smooth journey to the other side of realignment. If it means moving back to the Sun Belt Conference or instigating a merger between C-USA and another conference, North Texas needs to be on the forefront.

The landscape of college football is changing, so taking it in stride is integral to figuring out what comes next. As the path looks enigmatic for college football’s future, North Texas needs to find a guiding light in the metaphorical cave of uncertainty.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

About Author

Reed Smith

Reed Smith

sports editor

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