Monday, September 5, 2011
Ch Ch Changes....
With all due respect to David Bowie, this could easily be the theme song for the current state of conference realignment in the NCAA.
With Texas A & M ready to leave the Big 12 and probably headed to the SEC, Oklahoma, Okla. St, Texas and Texas Tech have apparently begun another flirtation with the Pac 12. If those 4 jump ship to the west, it will lead to an end of the Big 12 and again might lead to a paradigm shift in which we get 4 super conferences containing 16 teams each.
Before we throw out some hypothetical scenarios that may or may not unfold, its important to get a few things on the table.
1. College Basketball is irrelevant when it comes to expansion of super conferences. The fact of the matter is the sport does not provide the same quality of play it did 20 years ago and is not as popular. The regular season is over shadowed by bowl games, NFL playoffs and is relevant for about 2-3 weeks before March Madness. Outside of the first 2 days of the NCAA tournament, the casual fan doesn't watch it the way they do football. Sadly, most of the allure in college basketball is the NCAA tournament, specifically filling out a bracket and getting out of work for 2 days to watch a 13/4 match up against two teams you never heard of. The only conference that basketball might have some pull in is a revamped ACC/Big East, but that will only be after the Big 10 & SEC have raided some members for their own selections.
2. The end of the NCAA could be near, in terms of governing football. Mark Emmeret and his staff have their hands full policing the corruptness the is abound in the sport. Its time for the teams that can to work towards some sort of pay for play model or cost of school allowances. Players should be allowed to profit off their likeness and such and the emergence of Big Boy Football could lead to change.
With those issues out of the way, let's try to guess/calculate who could land where in terms of super conference realignment.
Start with the easiest first, the Pac 12 to 16. If Oklahoma, Okla. State, Texas & Texas Tech move west, this is one possible 16 team conference.
Possible divisions: Old Pac 8- UCLA, USC, Oregon, Oregon State, California, Stanford, Washington & Washington State
New Pac 8- Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech & Okla. State
Thats 16, now on to the Big 10.
Jim Delany is sitting there with 12 teams since the addition of Nebraska this year. An obvious no brainer would be Notre Dame as this is a yearly discussion about the Irish moving into a natural fit. But problems exist, the main one being Notre Dame loves being independent and the other is Notre Dame is becoming irrelevant in college football. They can't compete at a high level like they did in the 60's, 70's and 80's. The last two decades have been terrible to the point that we are now working on a second generation of college football fans growing with notion that ND football is terrible.
But for arguments sake, let's just say that the Irish & Big 10 join together, then it comes a battle to find 3 more teams. I'm sure Penn State would like another eastern school or two to come in so they don't travel to Midwest as much. Possible teams include Rutgers, Syracuse, Boston College, Pitt and Maryland.
On the western fringe of the current Big 10, their is Missouri who has a natural rival with Illinois, Iowa State with Iowa, and possibly Kansas and Kansas State to fit near Nebraska. If you want to get further west and you bring in a Catholic University like a Notre Dame or Boston College, the Morman based Brigham Young would be an option. Louisville could be an option too.
Prediction: current members stay put and they think outside the box to add Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, BYU and Syracuse. Pittsburgh to appease Penn State, Notre Dame for their national appeal, BYU for the same reason to bring a bigger presence out west and because they brought a religious partner in with Notre Dame, followed by Syracuse to cover the New York market.
Onto the SEC, where the league will undoubtedly keep its current 12 members and more then likely add Texas A & M. Naturally, it would seem the SEC might try to add a Clemson, Ga. Tech or Florida State, but their current SEC sister schools of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida would probably block membership or already have.
So with that in mind, two things probably need to happen. First, the SEC will need to add a western school to come in with A & M, while the other two schools they bring in to get to 16 will probably be from other states to create more tv sets in their conference affiliation.
Possible additions: Missouri, TCU, NC State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Maryland, West Virginia.
Missouri and TCU fix the natural problem of adding a school to the west with A & M. NC State and North Carolina would bring in a new state along with the Charlotte market, but it will be tough to get them out of the basketball friendly ACC. Va. Tech seems like a natural fit as does West Virginia being that they are land grant colleges and the fan bases are similar to those in the SEC. WVU has played Georgia, LSU & Auburn in recent years, while Va. Tech is short drive up I-81 from Knoxville. Louisville would complement Kentucky to the north and Maryland is enticing because teams would be inside the DC beltway for national exposure more than anything every other year. Of the original ACC schools, Maryland has never really fit in with the Tobacco Road schools.
Prediction: SEC keeps its current 12 members, brings in Texas A & M along with Missouri to create a natural rivalry with Arkansas to the West. In the east, the SEC adds 2 of these 3 in West Virginia, Va. Tech & Maryland. Personally I'd like them to add the Terps & Hokies, but for arguments sake, we'll go with WVU and Va. Tech.
SEC East-Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, West. Va, Va. Tech and Kentucky
SEC West-Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Ole Miss, Miss. St, LSU, Texas A & M, Missouri
Whatever decisions are made, by the Big 10 & SEC will affect what will be left over for some sort of combined ACC/Big East.
Super Conference IV is some hybrid of the ACC & Big East. Teams that would stay include Miami, Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina, NC State, Maryland, Virginia, Duke, Wake Forest, Ga. Tech and Boston College. That means 5 teams would have to be added in to create 16.
Possible additions include Connecticut, Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida, TCU, Central Florida, Rutgers, Temple and East Carolina.
UConn brings a respectable program, a rival for Boston College and a good basketball. Louisville & Cincinnati do the same and bring in a more western presence. South Florida & UCF, bring solid football teams, but Fla. State & Miami might balk at adding them. Rutgers brings in tv sets from New York/New Jersey and an array of hair care products from MTV, Temple brings in the Philly market along with quality hoops. East Carolina is a natural fit, but the Carolina schools would object.
Prediction: We have to add 5 and this is the only conference where basketball might have a say, so UConn is a natural, along with Louisville. I think you bring in Rutgers for the tv market and Cincinnati for the same reason and to give a western presence with Louisville. The last addition is Temple, as they are a more respectable football program then Duke, Wake Forest or when the Big East dumped them for UConn. The Owls also bring the Philly TV market along with the 6th winningest basketball program ever to Tobacco Road.
Now will any of this shake out this way, who knows but one thing is for certain things are a changing, for better or worst in college football. The dominoes were started last year by Colorado, Utah & Nebraska, they continued this summer with Texas A & M and look like they will roll on with the demise of the Big 12, while taking several schools like a Kansas and others with them into football oblivion.