Last week, on their fantastic podcast entitled, Podcast Ain't Played Nobody, Bill Connelly and Steven Godfrey of SB Nation discussed the once-proposed Airline Conference (also referred to as the Airplane Conference). You should stop what you're doing right now and go subscribe to them, if you haven't done so already.
For those who don't know, the Airline Conference, which was proposed in 1959, would have been a country-wide, 13 team conference. There doesn't seem to be a perfect consensus on some of the proposed teams, so we'll go with the list that Steven and Bill settled on- Washington, Cal, UCLA, USC, Stanford, Army, Navy, Air Force, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pitt, Duke, Georgia Tech.
For the sake of comparison, let's create two different realities for 2016, one with each conference, and compare them side by side with Bill's newest 2016 S&P+ projections.
|Michigan State||22||Notre Dame||11|
Now, as a quick caveat, we don't have any idea how any of the teams would have turned out had the Airline Conference truly been formed, particularly Duke, Navy, Air Force and Army. Had these four programs been included in the country's first-ever superconference, they likely would have kept football closer to the forefront of what they were doing.
As far as helping Penn State, it's not very clear. The Big Ten allows Penn State to face some of the country's best competition, and stay close to home doing it. It allowed the Nittany Lions to form some fun match-ups with Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska and Michigan. It also allows them to continue to praise the academic standards associated with the conference. The overall 2016 talent level in the Big Ten also seems to be stronger, and more even, all things considered.
The Airline Conference allows Penn State to continue a yearly rivalry with Pitt, as well as continue to foster a rivalry with Notre Dame. It gives them the chance to face the service academies every year, which is always fun for fans. It also allows them to face the best of the west, which would be both fun to watch and would be a huge recruiting boost, as the Penn State brand would be much more common in California and a Seattle-area that produces some very strong talent. Not to mention, the academic standards would be seemingly be pretty similar. As far as 2016 goes, the Airline Conference would have stronger top-end talent than the Big Ten. However, the airline conference also involves quite a bit of travel, and would bring the 'body clock' complaints, normally reserved for the NFL, on a regular basis.
We'll have more on the Airline Conference at some point, but for today, what do you think? Would Penn State be better off in the once-proposed Airline Conference than the Big Ten?