In 1959, Admiral Tom Hamilton, the incoming commissioner of the Pac-8 Conference, began drawing up plans for what he called the “Airplane Conference.” The league of at least 13 schools would have included Notre Dame, the three service academies, the core of what is now the Pac-10 and stretched from coast-to-coast. The name fit: The new league would have flown over the poor(er) saps below. The Airplane Conference would have been the richest, most influential conference in the country.
So what’s new 50 years later? Actually, the idea of expansion to super conference idea never went away. It needed the right financial, political, academic and, oh yes, athletic forces to converge again. We seem to be heading, inexorably, to the era of super conferences in college sports. To get there, there may be more conference shifting than ever experienced in the past.