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Changing neighborhoods: How schools fared when changing conferences

by Berry Tramel Published: July 10, 2012

Sixteen schools have joined a major conference (SEC, Pac-10/12, Big Ten, ACC and Southwest) since 1960*, and Miami has done it twice. Ranking how the immediate transitions have gone:


Before ACC: An excellent independent that had had five straight double-digit win seasons before entering the ACC in 1992.

First year in ACC: Seminoles went 8-0 in the ACC, 11-1 overall and beat Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.

Fallout: FSU won its first 29 ACC games and 47 of its first 48. Their first nine years in the ACC, the 'Noles won seven outright titles and tied for two others.


Before ACC: 8-5 in '03, but solid for a decade in the Big East.

First year in ACC: Won championship, 10-3 overall, 7-1 in the league, and lost to Auburn in the Sugar Bowl.

Fallout: Also won ACC titles in 2007, 2008, 2010, plus division titles in 2005, 2011.

3. HOUSTON 1976

Before Southwest Conference: Solid independent and Bluebonnet Bowl regular (four trips in six years, 1969-74) but coming off 2-8 season in 1975.

First year in SWC: Won 30-0 at Texas, stormed to a 10-2 season, went 7-1 in the SWC to tie Texas Tech for the title and beat Maryland 30-21 in the Cotton Bowl.

Fallout: Houston also won the SWC in 1978 and 1979 but never stood so tall again.

4. PENN STATE 1993

Before Big Ten: National power as an Eastern independent. Won 1986 national title, but then dropped from their usual standard, going 8-4, 5-6, 8-3-1, 9-3, 11-2 and 7-5 in their final six seasons as an independent.

First year in Big Ten: Nittany Lions went 10-2 overall, 6-2 in the conference, and beat Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl.

Fallout: In 1994, Penn State went 12-0 and won the Rose Bowl. Didn't have a losing Big Ten season until 2003 and still has had just two in 19 seasons.

5. NEBRASKA 2011

Before Big Ten: Coming off back-to-back 10-4 seasons and consecutive losses in Big 12 title games, but no Big 12 title since 1999.

First year in Big Ten: 9-4 overall, 5-3 in the conference; lost to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.

Fallout: Huskers considered a contender for Legends Division along with Michigan and Michigan State.


Before Pac-10: Great in the WAC; the Boise State of its day. The Sun Devils were 75-19 the previous eight seasons, and seven of those losses came in 1976.

First year in Pac-10: 9-3 overall, 4-3 in the Pac-10. Beat Rutgers in the Garden State Bowl.

Fallout: Consistent, but not a contender in the Pac-12 for many years. ASU's conference records through 1985: 4-3, 3-4, 5-3, 5-2, 5-2, 3-3-1, 3-4, 5-2. Finally broke through and reached Rose Bowl in 1986


Before ACC: 9-3 overall, finished in a four-way tie for 2004 Big East title with Pitt, Syracuse and West Virginia, at 4-2. Had hovered around .500 for most years in the Big East.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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