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Men’s mid-major conferences but inspired by Taco Bell

Every mid-major league, but we thought Outside the Bun.

Graphic: Hannah Butler

For anyone that knows me personally, they know I am a Taco Bell connoisseur.

Normal people require water to live. I require a large Mountain Dew Baja Blast, a steak quesadilla and a cheesy gordita crunch (sometimes, when I am feeling extra, I snag a Doritos locos taco, nacho fries and/or a steak quesarito).

*Not to brag, but in college I ate at Taco Bell three times per week.

So, it should come to zero surprise that recently whilst my wife and I devoured a smorgasbord of our own steak quesadilla, cheesy gordita crunch, hard taco, Doritos locos taco, nacho fries and the wonderful Dew of Baja, creativity bonked me on the head.

Every men’s mid-major conference, but inspired by Taco Bell.

(Taco Bell isn’t sponsoring this post — unfortunately.)

American Athletic/West Coast/Mountain West

Look, we know, these three aren’t really mid-major leagues, but they still kinda are mid-major leagues. So, in the spirit of that, my choice here is any copy-cat, homemade Taco Bell recipe. A homemade crunchwrap is arguably better and more flavorful than its Bell counterpart, but it can’t be called Taco Bell despite being close to the same thing.

America East

Just as the America East has been dominated by a single team, with Vermont being steady at the top of the league for a good long while but hasn’t done much in the NCAA Tournament, the cheesy gordita crunch seems like the fit. Won’t wow you on the big stage, but is a staple always worth having in your rotation.

Atlantic 10

The A10 has been in full #zerobidleague mode this season. Yes, VCU, Dayton, and Saint Louis have separated themselves, but this is about the league as a whole too. The A10 is akin to a soft taco. Just fine, but when you are done with it you feel a little empty inside longing for more.

Atlantic Sun

Liberty being in this league makes me want to just say no all together, so I am pretending they aren’t here. The ASUN feels like a spunky newcomer to me, cholk full of recent Division-I newbies, so they are the chipotle ranch grilled cheese burrito. A newcomer worthy of a bit more attention.

Big Sky

Ohhhhhhhh the Big Sky. My favorite league to be amazed by. The Big Sky, with its funky geography that stretches from Portland, Ore., to Flagstaff, Ariz., and for some reason to Greeley, Colo., is the Baja Blast: can be enjoyed anywhere but can give you headaches if consumed in excess.

Big South

Admittedly, I don’t know much about the Big South. But, based off its geographical location, I am going with the biscuit taco.

Big West

The Big West is basically the California Conference, and California is known for avocados (that famously are being used by millennials to kill the housing market). So, the Big West is the cantina chicken taco with avocado ranch.


This league makes me think of people from the 1700s, and I think they would have really enjoyed any of the frozen drinks at Taco Bell. I imagine they’d think it is witchcraft and attempt to burn it at the stake, or go crazy when induced with a brain freeze.

Conference USA

Florida Atlantic is having a banner year, and their mascot is an owl, and if you have ever seen an owl pellet, they kinda look like what I imagine the gordita baja looks like once it leaves the human body.


The quesarito. It has ample amounts of cheese in honor of the Horizon’s Wisconsin ties and is loaded to the brim with a filling of mysterious origins to keep you warm during those frigid midwest winters.


In my opinion, too snobby for Taco Bell. These are the people that say Del Taco is better. (It is not, get out of here.)


Just like how I can rarely tell the difference between these leagues and their alphabet soup acronyms, I struggle to taste the difference between the mild and hot sauces. Yet, I still love them.

Missouri Valley

This league occupies an area of the United States that looks like it would enjoy the Mexican Pizza.


Going outside the bun here. The NEC any Taco Bell that is combined with Long John Silver’s.

Ohio Valley

In honor of the Super Bowl and Joe Burrow not being in it, the Ultimate Gameday Box will hit the right amount of sadness and hate watching for Bengal fans in the Ohio Valley (there is a valley in Ohio???).


The Patriot League just makes me feel all patriotic and what is more American than something called the “Bell Beefer.” This glorious sloppy-joe looking thing, introduced in the 2010s, was made as an improvement on Taco Bell’s classic Bellburger. It was really popular in the San Francisco area according to the Taco Bell wiki, and it might make a comeback in 2023.


The seven-layer crunchwrap supreme was once a thing. I don’t know why that fits the Southern, but I just had to note the seven-layer crunchwrap supreme.


We once thought (and some may still believe it) that the Southland would be gone in the near future. But, it remains now. That shows us that hope is real. The seven-layer burrito — introduced in 1993 — was discontinued in 2020. Just like how fans of the Southland hoped for a future that includes the Southland, I too hope for a future that includes the seven-layer burrito.


The Southwestern Athletic Conference masquerades as a conference located in the American Southwest. But, as a resident of ARIZONA, I can assure you, the SWAC (with a geographical footprint that mirrors the SEC) is not what it tells you. The enchirito claims to be a mixture of the classic Mexican dishes, the enchilada and the burrito for some reason. It is equally neither, much like how the SWAC is not what it seems.


Sun Belt

The first item I thought of when my brain made the connection that Georgia State, which is in Atlanta, is in the birthplace of Cinnabon, the Cinnabon Delights.


A whacky league full of whacky teams like Southern Utah, Utah Tech (Southern Utah but again amirite) and for some reason Seattle, still. This league has changed some much over its life it is unrecognizable — much like the physical appearance of Taco Bell. Gone are the vibrant colors and borderline vapor wave styles. Instead, we have hyper-modern and soulless buildings that look like all other fast food chains.

(Bonus) Chicago State

Chicago State needs a home, and it should be the Horizon League. It makes sense, just make it happen already. Taco Bell is a desert dessert, with just the Cinnabon delights, the cinnamon twists and the frozen drinks. Bring back the caramel apple empanada. Stare at McDs on the battlefield of apple-related deserts, and TAKE A STAND.

Liv Más everyone.