Chip Scoggins
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The year is 2032. The Gophers football team plays a Big Twenty conference game at Washington in mid-October on a streaming channel not yet invented.

The players on the field are salaried employees in a billion-dollar enterprise. Quarterback Tanner Morgan, a super-duper senior in his 16th season, promotes a local car dealership during commercial breaks. Astronauts on Mars settle in to watch the game.


Only slightly.

Morgan won't still be the quarterback. The rest? Don't rule out any scenario in the rapidly changing world of college sports.

To gaze into the future and envision how college football might look and function a decade from now, it's constructive to look back in time 10 years ago.

In 2012, the Big Ten called its divisions "Legends" and "Leaders" after increasing its membership to 12 a year earlier with the arrival of Nebraska.

Maryland resided in the ACC, Rutgers the Big East. The BCS was the sport's flawed mechanism in determining a national champion.

Name, Image and Likeness? Not even close. The NCAA prohibited schools from providing athletes with bagels topped with cream cheese back then.

Transfer portal? Nope. Coaches had the power to restrict where a transferring player could enroll next. And athletes who transferred were required to sit out a season of competition.

That picture looks unrecognizable today, given the transformation that has taken place in recent years. Now try to project 10 years into the future, knowing how unfettered conference commissioners suddenly feel in reimaging the landscape of college football.

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren has not muted his intentions to push his league's enrollment to 20, which means the SEC almost assuredly will do likewise because neither conference wants to fall even an inch beyond the other in pursuing world domination.

Twenty schools would allow the Big Ten to form four divisions of five teams. In that model, the conference could host its own mini tournament, with the winner of each division advancing to the semifinals, followed by a championship game. Cha-ching.

Realignment has become a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos with the Big Ten and SEC gobbling up schools from other conferences, leaving the fate of those leagues uncertain.

The Pac-12 is particularly vulnerable after losing flagship members USC and UCLA. There was talk about a Pac-12 and Big 12 merger, but discussions broke off in July, according to ESPN.

Consolidation is inevitable among the second-tier Power Five conferences to avoid having the gap between them and the Big Ten/SEC widen even more than it is now. The influence of TV and media rights revenue has fostered a cannibalistic nature within college sports. Nobody wants to be left outside looking in.

What will emerge are super conferences that make no geographical sense by traditional thinking but meet new goals of having expansive footprints and new TV markets. Three, maybe four leagues that will control everything, particularly the playoff.

By 2032, college football will be hosting a full-fledged playoff with at least 12 teams, possibly 16. A true bracket that is guaranteed to deliver record ratings, which will pour even more TV revenue into the coffers.

I long feared that an expanded playoff would harm college football's regular season by stripping away some of the weekly drama and tension that makes the sport so lovable. In truth, a larger playoff would have the opposite effect. Putting more teams in the hunt for a playoff spot will add excitement and fuel fan engagement in more markets.

Even though super-conferences will wield a powerful hammer, they would be wise to include automatic qualifiers for conference champions (however many they deem appropriate) because that would create wider access to the playoff, which should be the goal.

Who knows? Maybe Nick Saban will still be winning national championships at Alabama a decade from now. Don't bet against that one. Pretty much everything else is subject to change.

A seismic transformation is underway in college athletics, and football is driving it. The Big Ten appears destined to grow to twice the size of its name. Tradition and math will be trampled by the stampede.