History: Airplane conference


(Patrick) #1

Never heard of this one, but apparently there was an idea in the late '50s to put together a conference that spanned the US. Houston wasn’t mentioned initially, but was “positioning” itself for inclusion in it:

Although Cavanaugh’s plan never really got off the ground, it laid the groundwork for Thomas Hamilton’s later plan for a National Conference. Hamilton, the AD at Pittsburgh, left in 1957 to head up efforts to form the conference, consisting of 12 members in two divisions, the winners of each division meeting for a de facto national championship game on New Year’s Day in the Rose Bowl. The Eastern Division of Cavanaugh’s National Conference would have included Army, Navy, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Syracuse and Notre Dame, while the Western Division would have included the five members of the AAWU (the conference providing the Western representative in the Rose Bowl) – USC, UCLA, Stanford, California and Washington, plus Air Force.

Hamilton’s plan was an intriguing one, because it didn’t poach on any existing conferences – the AAWU would have been the fulcrum of the conference, and the rest of the members were all independents at the time. And the idea gained great support – one newspaper columnist said “it will mean the beginning of a new era in college football. Harry Stuhldreher, member of Notre Dame’s legendary Four Horsemen, called it “a must.” Another supporter called it the “most outstanding sports idea” of his lifetime. As word leaked out, other schools – Houston, Miami, Penn, Duke and Georgia Tech – tried to position themselves for inclusion.


(Patrick) #2

Interesting “what if” scenario if this had happened with the initial 12 teams as there wouldn’t have been a Pac 8 or a Big East at least what we knew of them.

  • Do Oregon/Oregon State/Wazzu end up in the WAC? Maybe Oregon goes to the B1G, maybe some or all end up in the SWC or Big 8.
  • Do Arizona and Arizona State join the SWC? Would that have kept the SWC alive?
  • Would West Virginia be in the ACC or would they be in a G5 conference? Maybe they end up in the SEC if Arkansas decides to stay in the SWC that is no longer all Texas and them.
  • Who would the B1G add instead of Penn State or would they have added anyone? Do they try to poach Nebraska, Kansas, or Mizzou then?