CINCINNATI - SEPTEMBER 25: Bob Stoops the Head Coach of the Oklahoma Sooners has a few words for the game officals during the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25 2010 in Cincinnati Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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.
At about 5:00 p.m. CT yesterday, I tweeted this in regard to the news of Oklahoma's list of "demands" for staying in the Big 12 ("Fire Dan Beebe," etc.) and the assumption by some that if they're willing to stay in the Big 12, they must have been turned away by the Pac-12:
At 6:00 p.m. CT last night, I started jotting down a structure for a "Why Mizzou?" column in today's Tailgate space. The "Mizzou has an agreement to move to the SEC as soon as the Big 12 falls apart" narrative had taken hold.
At 7:00 p.m. CT last night, I joined my friend Allen at Blatant Homerism for what was supposed to be a podcast previewing Saturday night's Missouri-Oklahoma football game but turned into half-football, half-realignment.
By 10:00 p.m. CT: incorrect, moot and moot.
hate love hate conference realignment.
Last night, the Pac-12 announced they were not interested in expanding at this time. That put an end the rumors of Oklahoma's and Oklahoma State's departures to what would become the Pac-14, which also meant that, in the short-term at least, the Big 12 is allowed to continue living. There are now rumors of five-year agreements from OU and Texas to stay put.I called the Big 12 "that damn zombie conference" on Monday, and ... the zombie continues to lurch forward. For now.
Instead of trying to figure out what happens next, let's just try to figure out what we currently know.
The Big 12 Will Try To Expand
If there is any sort of agreement by Oklahoma to stay in the Big 12 -- if, for instance, the Sooners don't just turn right around and try to escape to the SEC -- then expansion is on the horizon. We know BYU is on the list of candidates. Air Force, too. But if the Big 12 hurries, the Big East is certainly vulnerable for plucking. We know that West Virginia is attempting to flee, we know that TCU is a bit worried about their impending move to the Big East, and we know that Louisville and Cincinnati make at least a little bit of geographic sense. If Oklahoma gets any concessions from Texas whatsoever in terms of conference equality (good luck with that) and the conference adds either one or three (or, hell, five) from this list, then suddenly the Big 12 becomes, if not stable, then almost stable. Of course, we thought the conference was "almost stable" two months ago, too.
The Big East Will Try To Expand
The Big East's roster is in flux, and could continue to be, but no worries! Commissioner John Marinatto is on the case. The conference is already discussing whether to bring in Navy and/or Air Force (which means that there's a small chance a bidding war breaks out for AFA, and you should really let that sentence sink in for a moment), while Central Florida's viability has been touted often, and East Carolina has applied for membership 27 times, making the Pirates the Milhouse Van Houten of conference realignment. There are no potential home runs out there for the conference, however.
Connecticut Still Wants In The ACC
Even in an ESPN article titled "Schools make pledge to stay in Big East," UConn's current intentions are pretty clear:
A source with direct knowledge of the meeting told ESPN.com's Andy Katz that UConn didn't commit to remain in the league and is still actively pursuing membership in the ACC.
But the source said that with the Big 12 likely staying together at least nine schools other than the Huskies may have to wait for the ACC to decide if it will add two more schools to extend the league's membership to 16.
"The ACC is the preferred place for (Connecticut)," the source said. "That hasn't changed."
If the ACC adds Connecticut and, perhaps, Rutgers (if Joe Paterno doesn't get his way first), then the Big East is in serious, serious trouble. Upon Pittsburgh's and Syracuse's departures, the conference is down to seven teams, including TCU. If two more leave, that's five, and that's trouble. Maybe that empowers the Big 12 to bring the remaining five into the fold?
The SEC Will Not Stay at 13 Teams Forever, Assuming They Eventually Get To 13 Teams
If the Big 12 stays together, then there isn't necessarily any reason for Baylor to continue with their lawsuit threats, and eventually Texas A&M can join the conference. I guess this technically isn't a "What We Know" item, since Baylor could by all means continue acting like Baylor in this scenario. Regardless, if Texas A&M is eventually allowed to join, then the SEC will probably move to 14 teams at some point. You can figure out how to create an eight-game conference schedule for 13 teams, but it is clearly not optimal.
So if the SEC has already turned down West Virginia, and if Missouri is unavailable because the Big 12 didn't actually fall apart, then what happens? Do they bypass the alleged "gentlemen's agreement" forbidding them from adding a school from a state that currently houses an SEC team and go after Florida State, or Clemson, or even Louisville? We've never been clear if said agreement is still a real thing or not, so maybe this becomes the most likely scenario.
Do they eventually go after Missouri anyway (since Mizzou's departure wouldn't be a crippling blow to the Big 12 if Oklahoma and Texas have committed to each other)? Despite the reputation Mizzou was given last year after they allegedly "threw themselves at the Big Ten," chancellor Brady Deaton is one of the people fighting the hardest to keep the Big 12 alive, so if he gets his way, Mizzou probably isn't going anywhere.
Do they say "To Hell with you: we're the SEC, and we can play with 13 teams if we want to"? It is technically doable.
Do they, as I've mentioned before, take their cue from elevators, skip the No. 13 altogether, and introduce A&M as No. 14?
The Mathematically Implausible "Four Super-Duper Conferences" Scenario Is Still Far Away
Even if the Big East is eventually picked apart, which isn't a given, it does appear possible that at least five of the current six BCS conferences could stick together.
At least, until some new, completely unforeseen piece of information emerges today and once again renders moot everything I am currently saying.
The Pac-12 Could Still Expand In The Future
Scott met with Texas officials last weekend in Los Angeles. But a source indicated the commissioner left the meetings believing the school’s newly established Longhorn Network was a significant obstacle that couldn’t be overcome.
Pac-12 members had agreed to equally share all revenue and to cede all media rights to the league. Sources were adamant that the Pac-12 would not allow any member to retain its own rights or revenue.
In the statement, Scott indicated as much, taking what appeared to be a very thinly veiled shot at Texas: "We have a strong conference structure and culture of equality that we are committed to preserve."
If circumstances change in the future -- if the Longhorn Network fails to serve Texas well, or if it turns out that the financial viability of a 14-team conference indeed outweighs that of a 12-team conference (thereby making Oklahoma and Oklahoma State solid options all by their lonesome) -- then the Pac-12 could quite obviously decide to go ahead and move on further expansion. That could get this ball rolling all over again.
N.C. State and Cincinnati Play Tomorrow Night
Then UCF and BYU on Friday. Then Oklahoma State-Texas A&M, LSU-West Virginia, Arkansas-Alabama, Florida State-Clemson, Missouri-Oklahoma, etc., on Saturday. This column was intended to become something of a "topic du jour" space -- hopefully tomorrow the topic becomes actual football.