The Big 12 has finally decided to open the door to the possibility of expanding to 12+ teams. There was talk that they had a wishlist of Florida State, Clemson, and Notre Dame. Because the ACC signed a major TV deal this past week then that is likely off the table. I have written at length on who the Big 12 should add and I believe that if they are going to keep all 10 current members then they should add BYU and Cincinnati today. It shouldn’t completely be about football, but that is what it’s mostly about. The only other option I see would be adding Houston. But what if there were major conference programs willing to jump ship BACK to the Big 12? Specifically Colorado and Nebraska? Now I believe those 2 plus BYU and Cincinnati would be an awesome coup for the Big 12. Weakening the Big 10 and Pac 12 in the process. What would happen to those two conferences then? I have read rumors about a possible North Carolina or Virginia entry into the Big 10 and I expect that if Nebraska goes back to the Big 12 one of those two will probably happen. Even though North Carolina has been more successful on the field and court recently there is that academic scandal thing that is still hanging out there. If Nebraska leaves I believe the Big 10 will act by extending an invitation to Virginia. Now what if the BYU & Cincinnati invites are not extended? Say this happens one domino at a time. Nebraska back to the Big 12 and Virginia to the Big 10. If you are the ACC who is a major program in your area that you could offer? West Virginia is the obvious choice. I think they would jump at the chance to rekindle the Backyard Brawl. It could be announced trade style: In a 3 conference trade the ACC receives West Virginia, the Big 10 receives Virginia, and the Big 12 receives Nebraska. We are back to current status. The ACC and Big 10 have 14 (Not counting Notre Dame still being on the fence) and the Big 12 remains at 10. Colorado was the other school mentioned that might be willing to come home to the Big 12. It is not very hard to imagine this happening. I have wrote about Big 12 expansion a few times, if you get Colorado back then invite Colorado State to come with them. This would get you to 12. Now if you are the Big 12 you should definitely do your due diligence and give Arkansas (I blame them for all this by leaving the old SWC in 1990), Missouri, and Texas A&M a call and see if they would be interested. It is hard to imagine any of those 3 leaving the SEC. Out west we weakened the Pac 12 into only having 11 members. You would have to clear this with Utah, but there is a certain institution in the same state that is dying to be a major power. How does BYU to the Pac 12 sound? To me it sounds really good. I think BYU is an overall better situation than having Colorado. The Big 12 gets its championship game, the Pac 12 retains its championship game. Geography is restored. To me that has been the dumbest thing we have witnessed in all of this. West Virginia in a Southwest Conference, Missouri in the SEC East makes no sense to me. The Big 12 courting Florida schools. Let us head down another path: say the Big 12 only takes Colorado to get to 11, they make that due diligence call to the 3 SEC schools I mentioned and they all bite. Where would the SEC go from there? Obviously the network deal for the newly formed (old) Southwest Conference would be on par with the ACC, Big 10, and SEC. The SWC would find itself in prime time negotiating position by weakening the SEC in the process. The SEC would have options, who wouldn’t jump at that chance. I could see 3 to replace the 3 departing: Clemson, Florida State, and Georgia Tech (Georgia Tech was an original SEC member-1932 through 1964). Now the ACC is in serious trouble again. They do have options though: Notre Dame is not a full fledged member yet. You could draw a line in the sand and say in our out. I think that Notre Dame is a few moves like this from joining someone anyway. So the ACC gets back down to 12 members. The Pac 12 has 12 as well and the Big 10 has 14, as well as the SEC and SWC. WE have basically only promoted 1 program up to the big leagues. Since Maryland and Virginia were both original members of the ACC, a return could be likely. Disregarding what we talked about earlier about Virginia leaving to join the Big 10 what if Nebraska was the only school to leave the Big 10? And everything after we discussed happens, the ACC and Big 10 are left with 13 members apiece. Where would each of those conferences be? There are two major programs that could help each conference get back to an even 14. For the ACC they could easily add Connecticut, and the Big 10 could easily add Cincinnati. Poor American Athletic Conference. Then just to makes things seem normal, let us propose a trade. I think Notre Dame should be in the Big 10 and Maryland should be in the ACC. I know this is a lot of information to digest but lets list the conferences according to everything that has happened and see if it’ll make sense.
ACC: Boston College, Connecticut, Duke, Louisville, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, West Virginia
Big 10: Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin
Pac 12: Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State
SEC: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
SWC: Arkansas, Baylor, Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech
So now that we have that straight, who would be the strongest conference in terms of negotiating a deal? I think if all of this movement were to take place exactly like we outlined, then all deals would have be renegotiated. A change in conditions would demand that. I think that clearly the ACC and Pac 12 would have some serious ground to make up against the Big 10, SEC, and SWC. The Big 12 could go from being the one that might get left out of a 4 superconference situation to being the Southwest Conference on the brink of adding both Arizona schools and becoming the first superconference. I realize how much of a long shot this proposal is but anything is possible (channel my inner Kevin Garnett). From that point the Pac 12 would be on the brink of destruction, during all of this expansion and realignment talk we haven’t really identified a school that would be worthy of a promotion into a major conference. There is the possibility that the Pac 12 could invite Nevada, UNLV, San Diego State; but are those really markets and schools that move the needle enough for the Pac 12 to get a really good deal? Could you invite those 3 and Boise State and solve this? Given the fact that the Pac 12 as currently constituted gets the same money with their deal as the Big 12 as currently constituted then no I do not see how these schools would add what Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas A&M would to the newly formed SWC. Like we mentioned above, this is a two Arizona school move from being the superconference that we have all heard was coming. The superconference idea is another thing that we must all keep our eyes on. Say that the SWC has all of the good fortune we discussed and then they grab Arizona and Arizona State from the Pac 12. Superconference time. We think that the Big 10 and SEC are the other two possibilities to morph into a superconference. I think the Big 10 would jump to add not only Virginia but Virginia Tech and the ACC would poach both North Carolina and NC State. We would have 3 superconferences and 2 power conferences in shambles. To add on to that they are on opposite sides of the country and would not be able to join up together. The ACC would have basically been turned into the old Big East, who would you try to promote? There are Florida schools Central Florida and South Florida who are top 64 in athletic budgets in the nation, you could start there. On the west coast, there are options as well. Being raided by the SWC would hurt, but you could get back in the market by picking up these 6: Boise State, Hawaii, Houston, San Diego State, UNLV, and Nevada (all of whom are in or near the top 64 athletic budgets in college athletics. This would leave the ACC as the odd man out. Like we mentioned they could add both Florida schools we mentioned. East Carolina would also be a move to consider, since they bring about the same type of institution into the ACC. Another school to consider for the ACC would be Temple. That would get them all the way back up to 14. They still would probably be the odd man out in a world where what we outlined happens and the 4 superconferences form.