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The Big Ten redefines the art of the late Friday newsdump
The university couldn't answer an open records request because they don't have a copy of the deal. Intercollegiate athletics sure is weird.
Ohio State's Gene Smith says the Big Ten isn't actively going after any realignment opportunities at the moment, meaning rumors of ACC teams with open offers to join the conference last week may have been inaccurate.
Don't blame us when you're totally unprepared to assess Clemson-to-the Big Ten rumors.
Because some traditions are just too good to get thrown out at the drop of a hat. Come on, Internet. Show the realignment tycoons what you've got.
The school wants withdrawal requirements and fees voided as it makes its way to the Big Ten.
There's nothing out there on Georgia Tech or Virginia and the Big Ten that we consider unimpeachable. But if you'd like to know where the latest rumors are coming from, here you go.
Yellow Jackets officials have denied that Georgia Tech might jump conferences.
For his Monday meal, Spilly welcomes Maryland and Rutgers to the B1G with traditional culinary delights.
Big East Conference commissioner Mike Aresco released a statement Tuesday addressing the departure of Rutgers University.
The internet responds to the Big Ten adding Rutgers and Maryland. (We think it's good.)
Let's run down the hows and whys of the Big Ten's apparent additions of Maryland and Rutgers to the roster, including a look at the 10 (or so) biggest-ever football games for each.
The Big Ten is a conference of history and inexpensive adult beverages. Let's review the new landscape.
Maryland president Wallace Loh, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and others spoke Monday about the Terps' conference switch.
The Terps should be able to recruit Pennsylvania and will have a harder time in the South, but the real winners could be the rest of the Big Ten.
Yeah, but that title doesn't really tell us a whole lot about who ends up where. Nobody knows which division is which. And what about protected rivalry games?
As expected, Rutgers will reportedly announce on Tuesday that it'll leave the Big East for the Big Ten, which would give the conference 14 members in 2014.
Maryland is joining the Big Ten. This is happening. You can watch it happen Monday afternoon. Follow @SBNationCFB
Monday could see Maryland announce plans to leave the ACC for the Big Ten, with Rutgers coming along from the Big East as well. Follow @SBNationCFB
Conference realignment is back? Conference realignment is always with us. The Big Ten might be about to pull Maryland and Rutgers from the ACC and Big East, establishing a swath of land from the Atlantic coast to Nebraska and adding two big TV markets (and traditionally lackluster athletic departments). WHO'S FIRED UP? Follow @SBNationCFB Follow @JasonKirkSBN
Yeah, this is gonna be really awkward if this falls through. (These tweets have since been deleted.)
Hey, is it football Saturday? Have we made it through a whole bunch of football Saturdays in a row without conference realignment news? WELL GOOD HERE COMES SOME.
While we wait for the late-summer conference realignment scramble, let's go ahead and prepare ourselves for the best and the worst.
If we're going to follow conference realignment as if it's a sport, we might as well come up with a scoring system.
Which college teams are in which conferences now, and where will they be next year? Not only do we have all 11 conferences in list form, we've got some projections for the future.
The conference realignment train has cooled for the time being, now that Temple's made its way back to the Big East. Let's take a look at what a fine mess we've all gotten ourselves into.
The ACC's been mighty quiet on the conference realignment rumor front of late, which is just when John Swofford's at his most deadly. Recall how he swiped the Pittsburgh Panthers and Syracuse Orange from the Big East before John Marinatto even knew about it. So what's the ACC up to?
Still hoping to land the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Kelly Quinlan of Rivals' Georgia Tech site reports. That makes sense, as that's been the presumed standing for quite a while now. Quinlan cites multiple ESPN insiders. And not, like, the website subscriber kind.
But then, the report continues to list Notre Dame, Rutgers, Maryland and Georgia Tech as schools the Big Ten could pick up, also at the urging of Big Television. SB Nation's de facto ACC blog, BC Interruption, ain't buying that one bit:
The ACC is not as easy a poaching target as the Big 12 or the Big East, younger conferences that by their own design are destabilized. The Big 12 destabilized based on unequal revenue sharing; the Big East never quite solved the football-hoops split ...
The other reason I don't buy the second part of this rumor is based on the players involved. Why would ESPN, which has a long-term contract with the ACC, want to weaken the conference in favor of the Big Ten (who has its own television network and a partnership with Fox) and the SEC (CBS). If there is even a half truth in [Boston College athletic director Gene] DeFilippo's flippant comments about ESPN's role in conference realignment, why would the WWL want to tear down what they just helped create?
Need a refresher on the latest round of college conference realignment as we enter the 2012 football offseason? You're in luck!
TCU to the Big 12? Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC? Everybody to the Mountain USA? What has the recent realignment drama done to the actual balance of power on the college football field?
As Missouri explores its options for conference realignment, some have wondered if the SEC is their true destination or if they should try to make a play for the Big Ten instead.
Big Ten commissioner would like to remind you that they're not interested in adding Missouri. Nothing against Mizzou, they're just not interested in expanding past twelve teams.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany says the league has what it wants with 12 members.
Delany said expanding the Big Ten beyond 12 teams wouldn't be appealing now because it could compromise scheduling and chemistry among the schools.
And so, conspiracy theorists who see Missouri, Rutgers, Notre Dame or someone else becoming teams No. 13 or 14 in the conference can forget about that. At least for another couple months.
Though, of course, I'm still pretty sure if Notre Dame said jump, the Big Ten would leap right into their arms.
For more on the Big Ten, visit Off Tackle Empire.
Missouri seems destined to be leaving the Big 12, dealing yet another blow to the quickly shrinking conference, but sources have told the AP that the school would've preferred to join the Big Ten rather than the SEC. Last year, Missouri had hoped to get a Big Ten invite, but Nebraska was selected instead. The Big Ten reportedly "has no interest" in Missouri.
On Tuesday, Missouri's curators voted unanimously to allow Chancellor Brady Deaton to look for a new conference. The Big 12 is already down to 10 schools after Nebraska and Colorado left and its future remains unclear.
If Missouri does end up joining the SEC, it would end a relationship with schools with which it has been aligned since 1907 when the Big Eight was first established (although it has been called several different names). Missouri was also one of the founding members of the Big 12 in 1994 when the Big Eight merged with four schools from the Southwest Conference.
For more on Missouri's quest for a new conference home, be sure to check out Rock M Nation.
Those $20 million buyout penalties the ACC reportedly installed last week, which we're supposed to think of as guarantees of conference stability despite Colorado and Nebraska having paid the same to exit the Big 12? They might have produced even less of a rock-solid foundation than you'd thought.
According to reports, the fee was supposed to be $34 million until the Florida St. Seminoles and Maryland Terrapins brought it down. Since those schools have potential options outside the ACC, that's interesting.
FSU has been mentioned as a possible SEC target, but its football program is such a national presence that the Noles could probably go just about anywhere they wanted. Maryland's size and AAU status make it a viable Big Ten expansion candidate at some point.
Pete Thamel thinks the SEC is staying pat for now, but there's now one more small reason to keep FSU in the back of your mind as a potential addition, if that's where you store information about such things.
The college conference realignment news is changing by the hour, so QUICK, hurry up and read our breakdown of exactly what we know as of right now. It'll certainly be different by tomorrow.
Those three entities in the title are listed in descending order of importance in this matter, of course.
As the Big East has already lost two of its football-playing schools and could lose three more if the Big Ten and ACC help themselves, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have found themselves with a tenuous home for their Olympic sports.
While the Irish remain a football independent, it would be hard to imagine them choosing to leave their basketball in a dilapidated conference with few other nationally branded institutions and no shot at a top media deal -- not to mention one that could soon be upstaged in its own home. Either way, Notre Dame remains the most-prized item on the market for the Big Ten, Big 12, Big East and ACC.
So when Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick comments on conference realignment, it's important:
I don't understand it. How do you vote as a collegiate president on something that has the potential to provide some benefit for your institution and the conference you're affiliated with but has a very negative consequence for a host of other members of the academy, as presidents like to call it?
Also, "a congressman from a state with a university that could be harmed by realignment" is making noise about using the federal government to force other schools to play sports with a school his constituents happen to favor. And NCAA president Mark Emmert wants everybody to settle down.
For more, head to Notre Dame blog One Foot Down.
Yep, it's come to this point. After Pittsburgh and Syracuse officially jumped ship to the Atlantic Coast Conference, other Big East teams are looking for some way - any way - out of their current situation. Poor, poor TCU. The latest team to attempt to jump ship is Rutgers, who have contacted the ACC and Big Ten.
Not to disrespect Rutgers fans or the university as an academic institution, but the only reason either of these conferences would want Rutgers is if they were truly desperate for a 16th team or something along those lines. Currently, no one is desperate for a 16th team.
The Big East, which had 16 teams as of yesterday (plus TCU), now appears to be dying a very quick death. Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti had this to say.
"I think given our assets and our location, the New York TV market, our AAU status and strong academic standing, and most of all - given all the nonsense that's gone on out there - running a clean program (with) integrity. We have great assets and we will continue to be a player nationally during this time as the landscape continues to shift."
Yes, Rutgers has the college football-crazy New York TV market. Who will be exceptionally crazy for Big Ten and/or ACC football. Because there is an average team in New Jersey who may be playing in one of those two conferences. Okay then!
For more on Rutgers, check out On the Banks.
There's no time like the opening Saturday of the college football season to answer the eternal question: "Wait, who's in which conference now?"
With just weeks to go before the start of the college football season, rumors of Texas A&M's impending move to the SEC has set off a familiar chain-reaction amongst fans, the media and especially fellow universities.
Big 12 member Oklahoma, arguably the 2nd-most influential school in the conference, isn't going to sit around and wait to see what happens. According to reports, they've in full-on discussion mode to prepare their next move.
OU officials spent Thursday and early Friday discussing the various options should A&M leave the 10-team Big 12. Some favor trying to keep the Big 12 together, while others favor seeking new conference alignments. The Pac-12 is the most-discussed option, since the then-Pac-10 offered an invitation last summer, but some have brought up the Big Ten.
As always, this should be prefaced with the fact that nothing has actually happened yet. However, if and when Texas A&M is the first domino to fall, expect Oklahoma to be ready with their next move.
While it's still technically not official -- the Big Ten still has to accept Nebraska; in theory, they could deny the application -- for all intents and purposes, the Huskers are off to play in the Big Ten. And if it were up to them, they'll make the move as soon as possible. As in, next season. They want out of the Big 12, and they want out now, according to Harvey Perlman, Chancellor of Nebraska.
"If the Big Ten accepts, it would be our hope to begin competitive integration in 2011 and play one more season in the Big 12."
And as those leaving for what they deem are greener pastures are apt to do, Perlman made sure to leave the Big 12 with some parting thoughts.
"This will bring Nebraska the stability that the Big 12 cannot offer."
"Any penalty imposed on the university of nebraska (to leave Big 12) would be inappropriate."
The Big Ten has its 12th team.
According to the Omaha World-Herald, Nebraska has officially accepted an invitation to join the Big Ten Conference.
Two sources from conference offices said that Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany contacted BIg 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe on Friday morning to inform Beebe that Delany had officially invited Nebraska to join.
A source with direct knowledge of the situation said Nebraska accepted.
The Huskers are the second team to leave the Big 12, after Colorado's move to the Pac-10 on Thursday.
SB Nation's Nebraska blog, Corn Nation, has some very early reaction:
I'm in shock... We knew this was going to happen, yet now that it has, I'm not sure what to say, or at least anything that's different than what I've already said about it.
There will be plenty of questions coming up, and we'll deal with them shortly. Probably the most important is - when do we start Big 10 play?
In any case, Husker fans - we've joined the Big 10.
What now for the Big 12 conference? Perhaps Chip Brown already gave us that answer.
Several officials in the Big 12 South have said if Nebraska leaves the conference, the Big 12 is dead.
Expect plenty more on this at Corn Nation.
With Nebraska expected to announce its decision to join the Big Ten set for Friday, our Big Ten bloggers at The Rivalry, Esquire have begun to speculate about one of the next questions confronting the league: how will the beefed-up conference split itself into divisions?
Of course, before figuring out how division re-alignment will shake out, you first need to know how many teams will be in the conference: will the (inaccurately-named) Big Ten stop at 12 teams or go to
infinity and beyond or 14 or 16 teams? With that in mind, the folks over at The Rivalry, Esquire lay out a few different scenarios, involving a 12-team and 14-league conference. Check out the full breakdown here.
Through all the scenarios there are three main issues: geography, competitive balance and the Michigan-Ohio State game. Organizing the two divisions along strict geographical lines preserves the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry as the last game of the season for both teams (since they would share a division), but it would produce a top-heavy eastern division, with the aforementioned pair and Penn State battling it out for a spot in the conference title game, against a bevy of non-traditional powers. Call this the "Big 12 problem" (after the fact that the Big 12 South boasted the preponderance of the conference's football powers, yielding some decidedly anti-climatic title games the past few years).
Dividing the conference into two more competitively balanced divisions solves this problem, although the resulting divisions wouldn't make strict geographic sense. More importantly for the Big Ten faithful, it would create the possibility of Michigan and Ohio State meeting in consecutive weeks (assuming they maintain their year-end game despite playing in different divisions...and that they remain the preeminent football powers in the conference).
Of course, the Big Ten could solve all of these problems if they just expanded a bit more...to say 150 or so. Then they could split into six "BCS" divisions.
Before the Pac-10 decided to get in on the expansion act, Missouri seemed like the Big Ten's preferred target for expansion out of the Big 12. But somewhere along the line Nebraska jumped ahead of Mizzou, with the Huskers expected to announce their decision to leave for the presumably greener pastures of the Big Ten on Friday. And SB Nation's eminent Tigers bloggers at RockMNation want to know why exactly:
In my eyes, Nebraska has one major card to play, and that's football tradition. I don't want to overstate the importance of that, particularly to the Big 10's expansion plans, which appear to centered around football. But does Nebraska's previous success make it a better candidate for the Big 10 than Missouri?
As I understand it (and granted, I have not researched it that thoroughly), Missouri has an edge in academics, overall athletic department success (i.e. in recent years, Missouri football + basketball trumps Nebraska football + basketball, and Mizzou has found success in "non-revenue sports" such as gymnastics, wrestling, women's soccer, softball and baseball), scholar-athletes (Mizzou was just ranked second in APR in the Big 12, behind only Texas) and media markets (St. Louis/Kansas City, even with KC in decline, should trump Omaha/Lincoln).
The answer is pretty simple: it comes down to football and money (not in that order). No other sport compares to football in terms of the cash it brings in. It's not even particularly close. Otherwise, Kansas would be getting
more some love from either the Pac-10 or Big Ten, and not be left in super-conference limbo. And academics...well athletic directors and school presidents love to pontificate about how every move they make comes with the student-athletes and the classroom in mind (i.e., lame excuses about why a college playoff is simply unfeasible), but it's all a rather transparent effort to cloak the naked money grab that is major college athletics. Academics has nothing to do with expansion.
Nebraska simply has a better football brand than Missouri. Sure, the Chase Daniels era saw something of a resurgence in Mizzou's fortunes on the gridiron, but casual fans associate "Nebraska" with "good college football" far more than they do "Missouri". That's why, despite Missouri's bigger television markets, the Big Ten prefers their rivals to the north with the more storied program.
Over at SB Nation's excellent Iowa blog, Black Heart Gold Pants, Adam Jacobi checks in with some good insight into the Texas aspect of this whole menagerie. And, as Jacobi says, it's not a coincidence that Texas is once again at the center of this speculation... And whatever happens, Texas leaving its conference shouldn't be a surprise:
What's not going to happen, though, is that Texas stays in the Big XII. Oh, they'll claim to have tried their hardest to keep the conference together, but they could have accomplished that with or without Nebraska and/or Missouri in the fold. Nobody's ever asked Texas and A&M why, precisely, the conference couldn't survive without a Nebraska program that had spent the last few years lamenting the XII's increasingly Texas-centric approach. We can't even intuit a plausible answer why that's the case.
Moreover, it's disingenuous to pretend that Texas' Big Ten fantasies didn't start over 15 years ago, or that they haven't persisted since. [...]
And so either the Pac-10 or the Big 10 happily welcomes into its conference the main actor in the only two I-A conference deaths of the last 50 years. If UT decides it can't be in a conference with a football program on a death sentence, then the Southwest Conference can't exist. If UT decides it can't be in a conference without a Nebraska program that's been complaining for years about the (state of) Texas-centric approach of the conference, then the Big XII can't exist. And if, in a couple decades, UT decides to convince Ohio State/USC that they can't handle conference network revenue sharing when they're in the same conference as Northwestern/Washington State or Purdue/Stanford, then the Big/Pac Tewhatever can't exist either.
And just like every time before, we'll all act so, so surprised.
It's a good read, with valuable perspective. Especially amidst the swirling speculation, with fans processing the myriad scenarios that could emerge from the chaos of the past few days, it's easy to lose sight of history in all this. But, as Jacobi points out, Texas' role at the center of all this is no coincidence. Make of that what you will.
Wednesday brought with it the first reports of serious college football expansion, with word the Nebraska had agreed to join the Big Ten after receiving a formal invitation. So naturally, Wednesday night has given way to denials issued from the school.
First, the university issued an official statement, saying these premature reports are "not accurate."
"A report being circulated this afternoon among sports media stating that the University of Nebraska Board of Regents 'met informally' today and have 'agreed to move to the Big Ten' is not accurate. Members of the Board's executive committee met via conference call to discuss the agenda for Friday's meeting. Such meetings routinely take place prior to Board meetings. At its meeting on Friday, the Board will be briefed on UNL athletic conference alignment and consider a resolution. No action was taken during today's conference call, and none will be taken prior to Friday's meeting."
Then, Bob Phares, the chairman of Nebraska's Board of Regents, said that "no invitations that are extended," but for the most past he did his best to skirt around answering any questions or saying anything of real consequence when approached about Nebraska joining the Big Ten.
"First of all, there are several factual errors. No. 1, there’s been no vote by the board at all. No. 2, as I understand it, there are no invitations that are extended. You decide if you wish to make an application and then they react to your application.
"And I heard that there were reports that Tom Osborne had advised all of his staff that it was a done deal. You can talk to Tom and see what his comment is. I would be immensely surprised if that was the case, because as I said there’s been no vote by the board and no formal decision.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Chip Brown from Orangebloods.com reported that Nebraska had agreed to an offer to join the Big Ten, with an announcement expected to come on Friday (he also declared the Big 12 dead while he was at it).
Now, Fox Sport Ohio is reporting the Big Ten has indeed made a formal invitation to the Huskers, and sources are telling ESPN that Osborne "informed athletic staff members within the past 24 hours that the Cornhuskers were going to make the move to the Big Ten conference."
This all comes after the Big 12 conference asked its teams for a "loyalty pledge" over the weekend, and just nine schools complied, with Nebraska and Missouri opting out. The league responded to those teams with an ultimatum that a decision must come by Friday if they decided to stay. Apparently, Nebraska AD Tom Osborne had enough:
"I think before too long - I don't know exactly what that time frame is - we'll be able to put this to bed,'' said Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne, "because I'm getting tired of it.''
Assuming the Big Ten adds Nebraska -- at this point, it sounds like a done deal -- the conference may not be done adding teams. Chip Brown details in his report that Notre Dame could be the next target.
The future of the Big 12 appeared to hinge on the Big Ten's deliberations with Notre Dame. The Big Ten has promised Notre Dame it will stop its expansion at 12 schools if Notre Dame agrees to finally forgo its independence and become part of a conference, an athletic director with knowledge of the Big Ten has told Orangebloods.com.
Notre Dame is apparently locked in a battle among its Board of Trustees about what to do. There are some who fear the Irish being left out of the formation of what could well become four, super conferences in college athletics. That could cost Notre Dame its access to a BCS bid.
According to Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com, the first domino in college football conference expansion has fallen.
"Nebraska regents have informally Nebraska regents have informally agreed to leave for the Big Ten," says Brown, with an official announcement set for Friday.
This comes after Tuesday's report from the World-Herald that the Huskers would indeed become the Big Ten's 12th team by the end of the week.
What would this mean for the Big 12? Back to Chip Brown:
The Big 12 is in trouble. And the only team that can save it from extinction might be...Nebraska? Yes, Nebraska. Of course, it all comes down to money -- in this case television networks and media markets.
As Chip Brown explains, if the Pac-10 does annex six schools from the Big 12, they will create a new cash cow of a league network, in the mold of what the Big Ten has done. Texas, however, has partnered with IMG to create its own network -- a project they would have to give up if they were to accept an invitation from the Pac-10. The Pac-10's new network would split revenue 16 ways, which would amount to a net loss for Texas over owning its own personal one. As a result, Texas has reportedly been scrambling to get the Big 12 to resolve to stay together. And the biggest domino there is Nebraska.
Like Missouri, Nebraska has been holding out hope that it will receive an invitation from the Big 10 to join the latter's own super-conference. While the Big 12 apparently feels that Mizzou is expendable, the loss of Nebraska as well is apparently thought to be too much to overcome. The Big 12 has given Nebraska a deadline of less than two weeks to decide its fate in the Big 12 after the league wrapped up its meeting without receiving a vow of support from all of the schools (Colorado is the third Big 12 school that is thought to be ambivalent about keeping the league together, although that might change if Baylor manages to finagle its way into the Buffs' place in a possible Pac-10 expansion).
So much for Jim Delany and the Big 10 fast tracking expansion this summer. Today, at the the Big Ten's spring meetings in Chicago, Commissioner Delany insisted that the league is staying with their original time line of 12-18 months for evaluating teams that would fit in the Big 10. The earliest that the Big 10 would finish their expansion study would be this upcoming November. That would mean that any team that would receive an invite to the Big 10 would begin play in the fall of 2012.
This means that the Big East is saved -- at least for now -- from being a foot note in the history books of college football. After, all is said and done who would have thought the expansion move this summer would involve Boise State joining the Mountain West. Well, maybe?
Big Ten expansion candidates Missouri and Nebraska both in separate statements shoot down any discussion of possible offers of expansion. Nebraska’s Chancellor Harvey Perlman leaves little wiggle room in shooting down his side of today’s report:
Asked via e-mail whether the report has any validity as it applies to Nebraska, UNL chancellor Harvey Perlman replied, “None whatsoever.”
Missouri’s denial is a bit more lawyerly, but still firm:
“There’s nothing there at all,” said the source, who said he had spoken with MU athletic director Mike Alden on Monday. “Not yet. … nothing has changed.”
Like the rest of you, we’ll just be the cat over here chasing after the laser pointer Jim Delany’s waving around until we actually find out who the Big Ten wants to add to the conference. It’s so..shiny…
In all of this expansion talk there has not been a single team that has been as open to possibly move leagues then Nebraska. Missouri has expressed interest in the Big 10 partly because of the inequity of the Big XII television deal, but Nebraska seems to be putting themselves out there to the highest bidder:
"My [Harvey Perlman] instinct and Tom's instinct isn't just to sit around and wait to see what bad things happen to you," the chancellor said. "We're certainly talking about what options we have." Perlman said he wants the Big 12 to succeed. But that doesn't mean a move by Nebraska to any other power conference has been ruled out.
"I don't think anyone can dismiss anything out of hand," he said. "If you take the wildest predictions about mega-conferences - 16 is the number you see most, but 24 has been floated though not publicly - we certainly have to act in the interest of Nebraska."
The highest bidder for Nebraska is obviously The Big 10 since they can double their revenue from the $7 - $11 million they currently get from the Big XII to $22 million that The Big 10 can offer. Money is what will drive Nebraska to the Big 10 if they are extended an offer.
The one league that seemed to not to be looking into expanding was the SEC what with their latest 15 year and nearly $3 billion television contract between ESPN and CBS. SEC commissioner Mike Slive says their league is going to stay pat with their twelve members for the next year, but is going to be pro-active if super leagues start forming:
"Given the success we've experienced over the past decade, we are comfortable in the position in which we find ourselves," he said. "Having said that, if there's going to be a significant shift in the conference paradigm, the SEC will be strategic and thoughtful in order to maintain its position as one of the nation's premiere conferences."
The league is conducting internal studies about the expansion topic to weigh the pros and cons, but Slive has said no teams have been discussed. This where the fun game of speculation comes in to try and pick out a few teams that the SEC would go after if they were to expand. If the 16 team super conferences become a reality, the SEC should go for a home run and go after Texas, Texas A&M, Miami, and Florida State.
Outside of landing the two Texas schools -- mainly University of Texas -- the SEC really has no benefit in expanding beyond what they have now.
And where do the ostensible little folk fall in this neverending major-conference expansion scenario? SBN's Mountain West Connection says the mid-majors must strike first if they are to compete for eventual automatic-qualifier designation:
My strong opinion is that the Mountain West must be proactive and invite Boise State to have ten teams and be a league that is stronger then the Big East and at least on par with the ACC and Pac-10 in terms of the top teams. The Mountain West may not need to invite Boise State to gain AQ status for the BCS, but it would make the conference stronger with four legit top 25 teams each year, and a few others who will be bowl eligible.
The one major conference largely holding itself above the fray of all this Big Ten expansion fooferaw? That would be the Pac-10, but don't think for a second that it's off the table:
The conference brass is also exploring the possibility, according to Staples, of just petitioning the NCAA to allow them to hold a conference title game without expanding beyond ten schools. But if they do take on new members, Scott said, they'll add in even numbers. Pac-12 has a nice ring to it, no?
SBN's crackerjack Maryland bloggers at Testudo Times aren't all that thrilled with the range of teams available to the ACC, should that conference choose to get in the expansion game:
Honestly, with better fits like UCONN, Pittsburgh, and Rutgers possibly joining the Big Ten, the ACC will have to bite the bullet. West Virginia and South Florida would be the front-runners, and it would probably be between Louisville and ECU for the final spot, with the other going to the SEC (the ACC's hand may be forced on this one).
What would that conference look like? Well, it wouldn't be pretty, and it certainly wouldn't be the utopian (or as close as you could get) version that I had proposed earlier. That won't happen unless the Big Ten stops at 14, which would probably surprise a lot of people at this point.
While Maryland maybe shouldn't be throwing stones when it comes to academics, their pessimism isn't unfounded: It's hard to imagine an ACC Voltron being any kind of powerhouse conference if the Big Ten (and, God forbid, other Big Six conferences) start widening their ranks. The VT bros at Gobbler Country skirt this malaise by going quite mad:
What if the Mayans weren't really talking about the physical earth like we know it? What if it was all just a metaphor for callllllage footbawl? People are talking about some crazy stuff, man. Like Ulta-super-mega Conferences. Conferences so big you can see 'em from space.
I mean, we've got the Big Ten about to devour the Big East like some kinda college football Megalodon, forcing Mike Slive, Swoffy and That Tennis Guy to do the same. And if Gray Lady Guy is correct, they're all four just going to break off like East Germany and put up a big wall between us and the Mountain West dudes. We'd be the oppressors, man. And that just ain't cool.
That's why I've got a much, much better alternative to conference expansion. Let's just all run around naked in a forest with J.J. Rousseau!
They (probably) don't mean it literally, but please don't let that stop you.
In retrospect, this maybe should have serve as an early warning sign that Big East types were nearing the brink, but they seemed to have moved swiftly to acceptance -- SBN's Syracuse blog says the Big East will cease to be by 2013:
The only time someone broached the topic with Big East Commissioner John Marinatto, he quite literally said that he "doesn't want to talk about this." Well that's too bad, John, cause everyone else does. This isn't conjecture, it's actually happening. Very soon. And by not doing something, anything, you've already shown your hand. The Big East is ripe for the plucking and it's not going to put up much of a fight to stop you.
You need a simple reason to why Marinatto will do nothing? Here you go. He's a Providence guy. Nothing wrong with being a Providence guy...except in this instance. This is a football and "big picture" discussion. Providence is on the wrong side of that discussion. They're part of the small school, regional, traditional side of the Big East. The side that remembers when this was just all about basketball and nothing else. The side that cares so much about the history of the conference that it will do everything it can to maintain that. The side that only likes to think about the Big East in terms of how it was in the 80's.
SBN's Boston College blog also swings for the fences, in highly entertaining fashion, asking why the Big Ten doesn't just attempt to absorb the entire Big East:
A Big Ten-Big East football mega-conference could never work, you say. But allow me to respond. You see, a 14 or 16-team Big Ten mega-conference is hardly a conference at all. It's only a conference in the sense that the AFC or the NFC are considered conferences. It's a loose affiliation of programs, where programs have unbalanced regular season schedules, and the top teams from each division within a conference play in a set postseason playoff.
The SEC is in something of a catbirdish position while all this Big Ten expansion namby-pamby swirls about, and rather than, say, wonder aloud how adding more teams to the Big Ten might help Ohio State win a national title game played against one of his football teams, conference commish Mike Slive very graciously told assembled media types tonight that while monumental shifts in the college football landscape might eventually force the conference to self-embiggen, he's quite pleased with the way things are, thanks. SBN's Team Speed Kills opines on why knee-jerk expansion on the part of the SEC would be highly silly and unlikely:
"Keeping up" is an awful reason to expand. Only two conferences have gone past 12 members recently. The WAC went to 16 in the '90s and imploded shortly thereafter. The MAC expanded to 13 by adding Temple when it was kicked from the Big East, but that's presented scheduling issues. The existing test cases for football conferences larger than 12 members are not promising.
Let's also remember that no one has even pulled off the 12-member conference as well as the SEC has. The Big 12 is plagued by the fact that the South division has dominated the North for much of the decade, and the ACC can't even give tickets away to its championship game. The SEC meanwhile has two balanced divisions, the perfect championship game locale, and the majority of its traditional games intact. No one else can boast that, and expanding beyond its current state disrupts it.
The Increasingly Inaccurately Named Big Ten expansion discussions, you may have heard, are quite real. That things are apparently not moving to fruition as fast as we have alternately hoped and feared does not change the immutable fact that this is getting real:
The Big Ten Conference is still in the early stages of weighing expansion and "not anywhere near" the point of approaching prospective new schools, Commissioner Jim Delany said Wednesday.
"We have not accelerated anything," Delany said, refuting a Chicago Tribune report late last week that the league had alteredstepped up its timetable. In revealing it would ponder adding topanding beyond its current 11 members, the Big Ten said in December that Delany would take 12-18 months to draw up recommendations to its council of school presidents and chancellors.
Of course, that doesn't mean the plans won't be completely scuttled, because Jim Delany has many, many traits, most of them unprintable in a family publication, but chief among them is a tender, warmhearted sense of humor. He's a wonderful clown who loves nothing more than to send imaginations on completely unfounded flights of fancy, just 'cause:
If there's a need to have formal discussions about expansion with another institution, we'll reach out," Delany said. "But we're still in the process of analyzing and gathering information, and we're not anywhere near what I would describe as formal expansion discussions with any member. We haven't changed anything, neither the timetable nor the process that was described."
College football conferences have changed before. They'll change again. Absolutely nothing might come of any of this, but if it does, the crucial difference is that this time around, we'll be there, covering all the minutiae and hand-wringing in excruciating detail. Breathe regular.
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