Saturday, September 17, 2011

College Football Realignment About Ready To Explode

Up until now, I haven't been posting about college football realignment because it was mostly concentrated on the Big XII and whether it would survive and rumblings about the SEC expanding.  Well, now the entire nation of BCS football conferences is in turmoil.

A report on Saturday brings into focus the backstabbing and everybody for themselves that these BCS colleges and Universities are going through right now.  This report had 2 Big East schools applying for admission into the Atlantic Coast Conference.  Those two schools are Pittsburgh and Syracuse.  If true, it is the start of the conference deathmatch between the Big East and ACC.  Conventional wisdom has that both the ACC and Big East cannot survive this realignment and if two of the major programs of the Big East, located in the Northeast part of the country apply for ACC membership, then you have a feeling that the Big East is going to have to figure out a school or three to bring into the Big East that will make the conference stronger than it currently is.  I don't see how that happens, but that is what is needed unless the Big East eliminates itself as a BCS conference in football.

Down in Big XII country, all of the remaining 9 schools, besides Oklahoma, have agreed to equal revenue sharing for the conference.  Before Oklahoma and Texas received greater shares of the breakdown of money.  Speaking of the Longhorns and Sooners, their respective Board of Regents are meeting Monday to discuss conference affiliation.  It is thought that the chancellors of each of the schools will be given the power to decide where their respective schools will participate in athletics.  Texas A&M, who started this whole ball rolling is not free and clear of the Big XII yet.  That is because 4 schools have retained their right to sue the school for damages incurred if the Aggies leave.  Those 4 schools are Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and Baylor.  If that was the end of the story for the Big XII, then it would be OK, but the reports of other mechanations for the schools down there are in the air.

Remember the 4 shcools that kept their right to sue A&M if they leave the conference?  Well, two of them, Baylor and Iowa State have looked at getting into the Big East, if the reports are true.  Talk about hypocrisy.  Trying by blackmail to keep Texas A&m in the conference to keep your spot in major college football, but also looking to leave yourselves.  Baylor did this when the Big XII was formed, so for a religious school, they would know how hypocrisy plays out.  If the Big XII does break up, watch for Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to join the Pac-12 immediately.  The most probable scenario is that Texas and Texas Tech also join the Pac-12.  If I were the PAC-12, I would not have the two Texas schools join the conference.  Instead I would bring in Boise State and the choice of Fresno State, Colorado State, or Hawaii.

Going back to the SEC, there are rumblings that Missouri, West Virginia, Clemson, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Florida State are going to join the conference.  The only one of those schools that makes sense to me is Florida State.  Missouri and West Virginia have different cultures than the states in the south.  Clemson, North Carolina, and North Carolina State are firmly entrenched in the ACC.  Florida State has only been in the ACC for a relatively short time compared to the others.  And if Florida State does go to the SEC, watch for the ACC to grab Central Florida.

And this is only the first wave of what is going to happen.  You still have the rest of the Big XII schools that aren't going to the SEC or PAC-12.  Where do they go?  The WAC?  The MWC?  What will the Big Ten do?  Does the Big East continue with football, and if so, do they stay a BCS Automatic Qualifier?  Do some schools join the MAC if the Big East folds?  Will another conference expand to 16 teams?  Will another conference form from the castaways of the Super conferences?  those questions and others won't be answered right away, but the answers aren't as far off as most people think.

Update:  The ACC is holding a vote to admit Pittsburgh and Syracuse according to multiple reports on Sunday.  You think that isn't going to cause upheaval?  Think again.  This will be the 4th and 5th teams that the ACC have poached from the Big East in the past decade.  And there are rumors flying that the ACC has decided to ask Texas and Kansas to be the 15th and 16th members of the conference.  If that is true, and I don't think that they are, that will take two major markets off the board in respect of major markets to add to your conference.  The problem with Kansas and Texas is that they are so far away from any other schools and each other.  Just imagine back to back road games for BC or Miami.  It makes no sense.

The SEC might find themselves squeezed here.  With the ACC landing a solid blow to the Big East, the SEC now might have a tougher fight to lure ACC schools to the SEC.  I am sure that both West Virginia and Virginia Tech are on their radar, but Virginia Tech has political problems if they aren't grouped with Virginia.  I still say that the SEC should go after Louisville which would help solidify encroachment from the Big 10 into SEC country, and steal two ACC teams, Georgia Tech and Florida State.  I know that there is a "gentleman's agreement" not to admit another school in a SEC school's backyard, but that was before Conference Armageddon was here.  That gets you to 16 teams and you have the 2 of the 3 major college teams from Florida along with natural rivals for Georgia and Kentucky built in.  

The PAC-12 is the one conference that doesn't need to worry about other conferences trying to take schools that are on their radar, unless Oklahoma and Oklahoma State surprise us all and join the Big 10.  The only suspense here is the 15th and 16th teams.  Texas can put a stop to that right away if they decide to follow the Sooners west.  That means that Texas Tech comes along as the little brother of the Longhorns.  If Texas decides not to go to the PAC-12, then the fight is probably between TCU, Houston, and Boise State, for teams 15 and 16.

The Big East could find themselves down to 4 teams after the alignment carousel goes around for them.  However, they have put out feelers to Conference USA teams.  The two most mentioned are Central Florida which brings that coveted Tampa-Orlando market and East Carolina.  Add that to Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas State and possibly Kansas and you are back up to 9 or 10 teams.  Add a SMU and a couple of other Texas teams and you are at 12 teams and remain a conference.    Hard to believe, but the Big East might survive.

The Big 12.  The eulogy should be a good one and I don't think "Amazing Grace" should be played at the funeral.

The Big 10 has to be shocked at the ACC additions.  After all, Pitt and Syracuse were rumored to be negotiating with those two schools last year.  So if the Big 10 doesn't surprise us all and sign the two Oklahoma schools in addition to the two Kansas schools, it looks like they will still be courting Notre Dame for inclusion.  And Notre Dame might finally decide that it is in their best interest to finally join.  After Notre Dame, look for Missouri to join the Big 10 and the St. Louis and Kansas City markets join in the Big 10.  Nice for that cash cow.  The Big 10 would also probably go after Rutgers, a Big East team.  Kansas and Maryland are still on the Big 10 radar and all the schools talked about are AAU members (Association of American Universities)

Summary:  In the next 48 hours, watch for the face of college football to be changed forever.  It might be good, it might be bad.  It will definitely be different.  And there will be some head scratching moves as well as some moves that you wouldn't even imagine before they happen.  The future for college football is interesting to say the least.

Quick Update:  The ACC is for sure holding the meeting on Sunday morning and they are considering Connecticut and Rutgers as teams 15 and 16.  There are also six other schools that have talked to the ACC about joining the conference.  

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