The Marty Smith Podcast: Chris Long Talks College Football Realignment, Possible Power 2 Conferences

by Chris Haney

This week, two-time Super Bowl champion Chris Long joined The Marty Smith Podcast to talk football and much more during his time on the show. Long followed in his father Howie Long’s footsteps and carved out an impressive 11-year NFL career of his own. He spent time with the St. Louis Rams, New England Patriots, and Philadelphia Eagles on his way to two Lombardi Trophies.

In addition to his time in the NFL, Chris Long was the face of the University of Virginia Cavaliers during his time in Charlottesville from 2004 to 2007. He was a unanimous All-American, made First-team All-ACC, and won ACC Defensive Player of the Year while at UVA. So you knew host Marty Smith, who covers college football for ESPN, had to bring up the current changing landscape of the collegiate game.

Last year, Texas and Oklahoma bolted from the Big 12 for the SEC. Most recently, USC and UCLA announced they’re leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten. Prominent programs are transferring to what are now becoming super conferences. In fact, some believe that we’re headed for a Power 2, or two major conferences compared to the current 14 Division I conferences.

According to Chris Long, he’s not sure where everything is heading with realignment. But he doesn’t think the changes will be detrimental to college football by any means.

“I don’t know what the solution will be,” Chris Long admitted on The Marty Smith Podcast. “I’ve seen things floated like, I mean obviously everybody thinks there’s going to be these big conferences made up of the SEC and the Big Ten. Or it’s like these Power 2, and then everybody else. I think there’s too much pageantry, too much tradition, and too much we love about our schools [for realignment to change everything].”

Chris Long Poses Questions About College Football Realignment On ‘The Marty Smith Podcast’

As the guys kept talking about the subject, Chris Long referenced his old university and UVA’s conference. While UVA is one of the more prominent ACC schools, it’s not at the top of the food chain. Their fate could be up in the air like most other schools if realignment impacts the Power 5 conference as well.

However, Long did raise a good question. What will the NCAA do to even out the playing field for lower-tiered conferences? Especially if things transition to a Power 2 in the future.

“A lot of these ACC-type schools that aren’t going to be able to maybe make the boat for the new big, shiny conference, there’s still going to be excitement around football. It’s just how do they break down those lower divisions?” Long asked. “And then, do you give those lower divisions a piece of the pie when it comes to whatever the playoff system is? I think if there’s a carrot to dangle that you can go play the big boys and be the Cinderella.”

“Maybe now we’re from the outside looking in like some of these non-Power 5 schools have,” he continued. “And said like, ‘Hey, if we can win enough games and if we’re good enough in our lower division, maybe we can get into the dance and play spoiler.’ Because that’s all teams really want, right? That chance, right? We know at Virginia we’re probably not going to compete in the playoff in the next five years. But, if there’s a bigger playoff and we can get in it, for 90% of the teams it just matters if you get in. There’s only a couple of teams that can win the thing every year.”

The guys talk much more about college football with Chris Long on the newest episode of The Marty Smith Podcast. Make sure to check out their entire conversation below, or listen to the full interview on Spotify, Apple, or wherever else you listen to your favorite podcasts.