Conference Expansion Looking to Explode

Written May 21st, 2012 by Eric

Money!! Err...I mean...Yeah, Big 12!! Oh, and I'm still a little offended.

Once the B1G had added Nebraska as their twelth member in the Summer of 2010, the conference expansion discussion found itself quietly simmering in the other room – out of sight, but not entirely out of mind. Every once in a while, not surprisingly, someone has to get up and stir the pot a little.

We’ve watched the Big East scramble to find partners, seeing their own demise written on the wall with the loss of Syracuse and Pitt to the ACC. We’ve seen the SEC poach Missouri and Texas A&M off the Big 12. And we’ve seen the Big 12 pick up WVU and TCU to boost their flagging numbers.

In the last two weeks that simmering pot just had to go and boil over onto the floor and force us to really pay attention to it again. This time though, the B1G fans and bloggers get to sit back and watch someone else clean up the mess.

Word passed down this weekend, reportedly from very high up sources at FSU, that the Seminoles will indeed be leaving the ACC for the Big 12. With this move Clemson will very likely follow right along behind, as has been speculated for the last week or so.

This is a major shift in the nature of conference powers. A conference that many of us wrote off as dead a little over a year ago, having lost 33% of their composition to the SEC, B1G, and Pac-12, is now potentially a surging power in College Football again. With the inclusion of WVU and TCU the Big 12 will again be at 12 member institutions.

And there’s always the chance this could grow into something bigger.

Some speculation exists that the current talks regarding a 4-team playoff might lead this conference realignment scenario to go crazy. One of the primary influencing factors could be a decision to make the playoff’s available to conference champions only (with possible exceptions made for those red-headed stepchildren in South Bend*). Current thoughts suggest that if the playoffs in fact go to conference champions only, we could see the rise of 4 super conferences – ostensibly including, considering the current climate: the B1G, SEC, Big 12, and Pac 12.

If the super conferences move happens you may see each conference aim for a total of 16 teams. The SEC has long had their eyes on Virginia Tech and North Carolina State to join their membership, which would put them at 16 exactly. There’s been chatter regarding Miami possibly wanting to sneak into the Big 12 (though their recent indiscretions could kill that), and Georgia Tech has apparently been quietly talking to the Big 12 as well. With a sudden mass exodous from the ACC, the B1G could swoop in and pick up such luminaries as Maryland, Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina – all solid academic institutions that fit the B1G’s culture.

That’s assuming the Big 12 doesn’t get there first, as they are reportedly already having quiet conversations (warning: NSFW).

You really have to feel for poor Pittsburgh and Syracuse, having jumped last year from the burning Big East straight into the now burning ACC. Incidentally, they could also be potential targets for the B1G, though they may not be as attractive as the four suggested.

And, of course, the Pac 12 could always take a few additional teams. There’s Boise State for example, who would love a chance to join a major conference. They’re so desperate they were trying to jump into the Big East! And what about BYU? A school that the Pac 12 has basically told to take a hike, could start looking more attractive if they suddenly want to boost inclusion to the conference (though I doubt it). San Diego State is another possibility (again Big East), but might not be big enough to keep the Pac-12 from laughing them out of the room.

As you may have guessed, things are rapidly getting interesting in the world of conference alignment. We will keep our eyes on things and post updates as they happen. For now, you should take away this – it is only a matter of time, perhaps sometime this week, before Florida State is putting the down payment on a house in the Big 12′s neighborhood.

The new Big 12?

It would be ridiculous if I didn’t point out the contributions of Frank the Tank, a blogger who has been in on the conference realignment stories for the past two years. Keep an eye on his blog, and follow him on twitter at @FranktheTank111, if you want to know more about what is going on. He does an excellent job breaking down the decision making, especially regarding financials and other critical factors (such as culture/academics). Despite what some people might say (cough: ESPN), financials are not the only deciding factor in all of these moves – though it is critical in some.

The biggest shame in this whole discussion, and the one that is going to get next to no press at all, is the possible loss of the annual B1G/ACC challenge in basketball. That event has become increasingly popular, and I think was a big factor in helping drive the B1G back into a position of power in College Basketball. To lose a feature that drew great attention and viewership to both conferences is a terrible shame.

Keep in mind, a lot of this is speculative. We don’t know yet for certain which way the winds are blowing in the B1G, SEC, nor Pac-12 offices. It’s probably fair to say that whichever way they’re blowing, they’re probably a little stronger today, even if it takes a little time for the resulting talk to get anywhere.

* No, this has nothing to do with the stereotypical hair color of the country of Ireland. Interestingly, there are hints that no exception will be made and Notre Dame will be forced to join a conference. Talk suggests that the Big 12 is interested in picking them up, though the academic issues involved could prevent that from happening.

30 Comments

  1. JimNo Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Notre Dame is an obvious fit for the Big Ten and has been for most of the past century. The driving factor for them being independent (mainly, them being good and being the only team on TV every week) are gone. With that clout gone, there is no reason to give them a playoff exception, which would force them to join a conference.

    Despite the writing on the wall, Notre Dame is apparently still clinging to the fact that they are someone special and deserve special treatment in a conference (not playing a full conference schedule amongst other things).

    In my opinion, they have very little leverage, but joining “we are better than everyone else in our conference and deserve special treatment” Texas in the Big 12 makes a lot of sense given the similar attitudes.

    It is my hope that the Big Ten is communicating with Notre Dame but the offer is a “no special treatment, take it or leave it” one.

    If the ACC explodes, I’d love to see the Big 10 grab Virginia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Maryland. If North Carolina won’t move without Duke, replacing Georgia Tech or Maryland with Duke would be alright as well.

    This is a pretty narrow mindset, but if you had to pick the four states that Meyer is hitting the hardest on the recruiting trail; Virginia, Maryland, Georgia and North Carolina are it. Adding those states into the conference footprint certainly won’t hurt those efforts.

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    dmac67No Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Dear Jim,

    The Big 12 is the ONLY conference that makes sense for Notre Dame. The Big 12 is the only conference where Notre Dame will own their third tier broadcast rights. Deloss Dodds (UT Athletic Director) has been laying the ground work for this move for at least 3 years. There was no way that Texas was giving up their third tier rights and The Longhorn Network, or were any other conference members. Dodds has had a well planned, systematic strategy in place and no amount of “The sky is falling” hysteria was going to derail it. You are right about one thing – Texas is better than anyone else in their conference – everyone knows it – and they have the mastermind to lead the Big 12 to premiere status in college football – and riches beyond comprehension just a decade ago. Like Dodds said a few months ago, “Texas didn’t start this, but we sure as well are gonna finish it.

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    JimNo Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Perhaps once the Big 12 adds Notre Dame is can be renamed the Hubris 2 and the Unfortunate [insert however many other teams are in the conference].

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    dmac67No Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    LOL – you are a joke – just like Jim Tressel and his merry band of corupt boosters. Trade some memorabilia for this tattoo – “We couldn’t win the big one fairly (or while cheating).”

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    JimNo Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Obvious troll is obvious.

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    dmac67No Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    No troll – just pointing out an idiotic analysis when I see it.

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Nope- “You are a joke because…” is pointing out analysis issues.

    Everything else is trolling from deep in the heart of Texas.

    dmac67No Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    LOL!

    Okie OrangebloodNo Gravatar
    May 22nd, 2012 at 1:47 am

    As an alumnus of a BigXII school I always thought the addition of ND was wishful thinking. I still do. But of late, those wishes may be founded on more solid ground. With the NATURAL rivalries they have in the B1G how can one expect them to go anywhere else?
    Some have argued that 3rd tier rights alone would lead them to the BigXII. While that is compelling, I doubt that would do it by itself. First you have to look at ND’s own self image. They see themselves as set apart, separate from the B1G. Their ‘brand awareness’ would not increase in B1G territory if they FINALLY joined the conference.
    BUT if they joined the BigXII… a conference who is itself expanding into the deep south… then ND keeps its image in B1G territory while expanding it’s relevance into another rich area. They tap into a good pool of money (BigXII tier 1 & 2 revenue) and yet retain their tier 3 value to themselves, a value they just improved by aligning with other markets. Not bad.
    It STILL may be wishful thinking. But no longer “pie in the sky” thinking.

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    JimNo Gravatar
    May 22nd, 2012 at 7:03 am

    I question the long term stability of adding Notre Dame to the Big 12, particularly considering the massive revenue sharing and jealously problems the conference has had for the past several years. Notre Dame isn’t exactly going to solve that problem anytime soon and will likely make it significantly worse following any honeymoon period that may be experienced.

    Call it sour grapes, but if Notre Dame is demanding special treatment to join a conference, good riddance to them and best of luck to whoever is unfortunate enough to have to keep that ego in check for the sake of conference stability into the future. As I said, with Texas already causing massive problems, that just doesn’t seem like a recipe for long term success to me.

    As an Oklahoma State fan (I assume) I think you might be more in tune to some of these issues than our Texas burnt orange friend, but maybe not since T. Boone has got your back no matter how much money you do or don’t make from conference revenue sharing.

    Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and Texas A&M couldn’t get out of there fast enough, and it really looks like the league will turn into the haves and have nots in terms of revenue sharing. Like I said, Notre Dame doesn’t exactly make that situation better, so it will be interesting to see if everyone can get along for the sake of the conference. If history is any indication, my guess is probably not. Then again, if the Big 12 turns into a super conference with a ticket to a playoff, that would make it more difficult for the “have nots” to rock the boat.

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    dmac67No Gravatar
    May 22nd, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Jim, just in case your interested in facts, here they are in reference to the new Big 12 media rights and revenue sharing: (1) Equal revenue sharing by all members of Tier I and Tier II rights, (2) Grant of Revenue to the Big 12 for 13 years, (3)Each university owns their Tier III rights and can do with them as they please. This has been agreed to by each university and will be signed at the Big 12 meetings in June. Unequal revenue sharing? No. Haves and have nots? No. Unstable conference? No. One of two conferences with the highest per team payout? Yes.

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    JimNo Gravatar
    May 22nd, 2012 at 7:40 am

    They say the honeymoon is the hardest part of a marriage. I’m sure everything will be smooth sailing from here on out.

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    ryanNo Gravatar
    May 22nd, 2012 at 9:19 am

    I love the Big12 profit sharing, share the big bucks and then let each school do what they wish with the games that aren’t nationally televised or on a big12 regional network. Why should the schools making all the money have to give it to the have nots. As a conservative it is a beautiful thing. But I’m sure Kansas and Arizona are loving not getting a piece of those tier 3 profits from the longhorn network. The problem is all of the have nots will shake the boat and can often result in abandoning ship. With all of the realignments going on over the next few years as we inevitably go to 4 superconferences, I could see the small guys in the Big12 to jump ship to the Pac16. After all if the Pac12 wants to snag 4 more teams they have Boise St, and then must raid 3 from the Big12.

    ryanNo Gravatar
    May 22nd, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Error, not Arizona. Any number could take that place…Iowa St, Oklahoma St, Kansas St, Texas Tech….

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    May 22nd, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Thanks for the insight…. Now, was that so hard? :)

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  2. ryanNo Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Duke and UNC would be great grabs for making us the definitive leaders in basketball. Don’t really need any more basketball teams.
    I believe OSU, Michigan, Penn St and Nebraska will sure up our football for the long term. Throw in a rotation of teams like Wiscy, Sparty, Illinois and Iowa who can show up to the grid iron from year to year and we’ll be solid in football with a half dozen winners. Throwing in another historically great team like Notre Dame or VaTech (who can recruit and bring in the dollars) and we will weather the short lived SEC football domination and come out on top. Or get another decent team to the rotation of mediocre teams like NC State and we’ll be looking good. Yes, great plan is to poach all of north carolina and throw in Notre Dame for good measure. Is NC State good enough academically to get in?

    [Reply]

    JimNo Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 11:13 am

    As Eric notes, Va Tech and NC State are both prime expansion targets for the SEC.

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    ryanNo Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Very true, but who knows where that goes. I’ve been reading that VaTech may want to stay with UVa and NC State won’t go anywhere without UNC, and UNC won’t go anywhere without Duke. At the same time the SEC wants to add two schools from two different states ($$$$$$$$$$$). UVa and UNC are both too good academically to go to the SEC. So who knows. I’d just rather see VaTech in the B1G or even NC State over UVa, which would just basically be another Northwestern.

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    ErictBBCNo Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Well, at some point these schools are going to have to make a value decision. Which is more important – staying together, or joining new conferences in order to continue to participate at the top of College Football?

    There’s no possible way that any conference is going to want to take all of them together. The SEC, already sitting at 14, probably only wants to take 2 more. They could jump up to 20 or 24, but at that point your conference starts to become overweight and bloated. That ends up watering down the final product to some extent (at least as far as has been discussed to date).

    It seems to me that the ACC teams are going to make a move shortly, and in the final decision they are going to act in their own best self-interest. There’s about a 99.9% chance (in my mind) that it won’t involve sticking with more than one other school (UNC/Duke for example).

    Now, this is not to say that the SEC couldn’t decide to try for 24 teams – I just think the money sharing will get so thin that it won’t be worth it. There is, after all, a diminishing return monetarily to adding teams.

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    JimNo Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 11:55 am

    The academic and research value of adding “another Northwestern” is huge.

    I personally am a big fan of Virginia for that very reason and think they are a vastly superior choice to almost any other school that brings marginally better athletics.

    Being a part of the Big Ten isn’t only about playing football, after all.

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  3. WVaBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Am I the only one that is now concerned with the PAC12/B1G alliance? I do not like this relationship moving forward as much as I would like the playing ALL of the B1G teasm every year. We already know that the PAC12/B1G deal has been signed sealed and elivered to start producing games as earl as 2013 correct? I think this handcuffs us more than anything else.
    Love the idea myself of adding ND, UNC, DUKE, and PITT to our conf. To heck with the CUSE

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  4. Grant EdgellNo Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Nice work, Eric. I’d love the addition of UNC and Duke to the B1G hoops landscape, but the real benefit? An epic Duke v Minnesota tilt on a crisp fall Saturday at Target Field, first downs sold separately.

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    ErictBBCNo Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Thanks Grant.

    I’m pretty certain that would be the most B1G thing ever…and I would watch every gloriously horrific minute of it.

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  5. Don MNo Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Add BYU. Name brand, huge following, partner with ND joining Big Ten. Steal them out from under the nose of the Big XII.

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    JimNo Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I have read that BYU doesn’t have the academic chops to be a desirable member of the Big 10. Also, adding them makes even less geographic sense than the east coast schools.

    After taking an academic reach on Nebraska for the sake of football, the Big 12 can have BYU.

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    Matt DNo Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    BYU actually is a very reputable academic school–with a focus on the undergrad education. Because they focus on the undergrad, they’re not considered a ‘research school’, but their law school, business school, accounting programs, science department are well respected.

    The PAC 12 is too secular to add BYU (or ND), maybe the B1G is a little more open-minded. Currently, BYU sends it’s grads to Stanford, Cal and Harvard. Maybe in the future they will be sending them to Mich, OH St., Michigan State, Northwestern and Iowa…

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    JimNo Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Then I suppose I should change my original statement to “BYU doesn’t have the research chops to be a desirable member of the Big Ten” but the point remains the same.

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    EricNo Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Incidentally, they’re also experts in Foreign Language Education. Probably the best University in the country in that area – though that probably shouldn’t be too surprising.

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  6. JimNo Gravatar
    May 21st, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    The latest buzz is that Notre Dame and Florida State are the magical two that the Big 12 is very close to landing.

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  7. EricNo Gravatar
    May 22nd, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    The poll got a little screwy. I’ve restarted it to try to fix the problems, so if you tried voting earlier and couldn’t, please try again.

    If you still get an error, I may just throw my hands in the air in defeat.

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