Like some sort of swinger party set against the plush velour of a mustachioed man's suburban townhouse (not that I would know), universities are hopping from conference to conference with no sense of loyalty or decorum at a disconcerting pace.
As an attention play over its professional counterpart, the NFL, which held our focus for months with labor negotiations, the NCAA has, in the meantime, put forth its own modifications, ones that are challenging the entire landscape as we know it.
The main variations you might notice are that several conferences have featured realignment, introducing unfamiliarity to the schedule. Traditional foes may have been transferred and rivalries may have been eliminated.
So, as your swivel-perched head attempts to recognize the new alliances throughout Division I-A football, here is a handy reference guide for you to review while plopped down in front of the big screen watching your favorite school on the gridiron. The remodeled foundation now looks like this:
The Big 10 now has 12 teams.
The Big 12 now has 10 teams.
The Pac-10 is now the Pac-12 and it does, indeed, have 12 teams stretching as far east as Utah and Colorado, which is a long drive from the Pacific Ocean.
The Big East is the smallest of the major power conferences with eight teams and stretches as far west as Louisville. (However, come back to us in a year or so and it will have been sold off for parts.)
The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) spans up and down the Atlantic coast, which will soon run through Syracuse and Pittsburgh thanks to global warming. (Damn you, Al Gore!)
The Southeast Conference (SEC) is pretty much intact ... for now, as Texas A&M wants to join. Though it is in Texas, which is nowhere near the East, the school is located in the Southeast part of the state ... sort of.
South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union, but remains in the SEC.
Texas Christian University will be joining the Big East next year ... unless the conference no longer exists in which case, TCU will feel pretty stupid.
Murray and Kent are not states!
Louisiana State is in the SEC, Louisiana-Lafayette is in the Sun Belt, and Louisiana Tech is in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).
The Sun Belt stretches from Texas to Western Kentucky.
Western Kentucky University is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Bowling Green State University is not. It is located in Bowling Green, Ohio.
Bowling Green still fields a football team, but has no intention of promoting bowling. Its colors are orange and brown and not green.
Conference USA includes Southern Miss, Central Florida, and East Carolina.
Western, Central and Eastern Michigan are all in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference (MAC), though all are in the Eastern Time Zone.
Fresno is not a state either!
Army and Navy are independent while the Air Force is in the Mountain West Conference. The Marines and Coast Guard do not have teams. Neither does Seal Team Six nor the CIA. Or ... do they?
New Mexico is in the Mountain West while New Mexico State is in the WAC.
After leaving the WAC for the Mountain West in 2010, Boise State is staying put and its field remains blue.
Brigham Young has also left the WAC.
Akron remains in the MAC despite rumors that it would take its talents to South Beach.
We are Marshall!
Rice University has actually been around longer than Jerry, Sidney and Ray and was not named for any of them.
Ole Miss players are roughly the same age as those from Mississippi State.
Ohio State and Miami are the only teams in college football whose players have taken illicit benefits, but that doesn't take into consideration the other schools whose players have as well.
Pete Carroll's USC Trojans are still on probation for rules violations and as a punishment, he has to coach the Seattle Seahawks with Tavaris Jackson at quarterback.
Reggie Bush was stripped of his Heisman trophy.
Cam Newton has his Heisman trophy since he claims to have been unaware of the shady dealings his father was involved with.
Mark Ingram also has his trophy, but his father is still in jail.
O.J. Simpson is in jail and no longer has his Heisman.
O.J. was locked up for kidnapping, but not murder, though according to a civil court ruling, he's done both.
Terrelle Pryor has to miss the first few games of this season, but can return when Ohio State visits Nebraska on Oct. 8, though by that point, his team will be in Houston for the Raiders/Texans game. Regardless, he won't be allowed to return until the next week against the Cleveland Browns, Ohio's other football team.
Miami has a team ... for now.
Joe Paterno is still coaching.
Kickoffs still matter.
It'll take more than luck to win the Heisman Trophy, though the favorite to win the Heisman trophy is, indeed, Luck.
Dick Butkus has never won the Butkus Award.
And, come the end of the football season, the Bowl Championship Series BCS still exists and is in place to determine, beyond reproach, the best team in college football, which may not actually be the best college football team in the nation. (The one thing that needed modification didn't get it.)
So there you have it, your cheat sheet for college football 2011. You can now focus solely on the enjoyment of the games, your tailgating, and the punishment that is sure to be handed down to your school very soon.