The past year has been overshadowed by talk of conference realignment as no less than 3 conferences will have changes in membership for the upcoming 2012-13 football season... and more changes are slated for 2013-14 as well. Is this a new thing, or have we seen this before?
If you think it's new, you must be very young.
Conference realigment has been happening as long as there have been conferences. For example, in the 60's it may have looked like the beginning of the end for the SEC as 2 teams left the conference: Georgia Tech in 1964 and Tulane in 1966. Suddenly the SEC had only 10 member institutions left! Would it survive as a major athletic conference?
I think you know how that story turned out.
Since then there have been periods of realignment followed by periods of stability. Here is a graph showing the number of teams changing conferences over the last four decades or so:
for an in-depth analysis of conference realignment, please see my blog: