This topic has consumed about 70% of my sports related attention this month and Expansion Hoopla V1.0 got a lot of hits, so let’s do it again…
A lot has changed in a week (actually not really; the only thing that has changed is my mind). This super-long post lacks pictures or graphics and is broken down into several text-heavy sections. If you just want to bitch about the conference or the Pod I put your school in, scroll to the bottom and comment. If you are a conference expansion junkie like me, sit back and enjoy my rambling inferences and analysis.
The first part of this post explains what I have inferred based on recent comments from relevant conference commissioners, university Presidents, AD’s, and insiders.
-Maryland and North Carolina have likely both told the Big Ten to pound sand. They like the ACC for now.
-Texas probably isn’t going to the Big Ten either. They are more interested in merging the cream of the crop from the Big Twelve with the Pac-10, possibly as a simple six team addition to form the Pac-16 and possibly as a “Western Alliance” with a looser conference connection and as many as 24 schools.
-Nebraska and Missouri are dying to be invited to the Big Ten. Even Tom Osbourne issued a statement saying as much. Both schools’ Presidents are already on record as being very interested.
-Oklahoma and Oklahoma State want an SEC invite. They might get invited to the Pac-16 with Texas or they might not. They prefer the certainty and immediate prestige the SEC brings.
-Kansas is on the fence between the Big Ten and the Texas led Pac-16. Either way, they’ll probably be in a better position than they are now. There is a slim chance that they could end up homeless if the Big Ten invites Missouri and Nebraska and the Pac-10 and Texas don’t invite them to be one of the five teams to join the Pac-16.
-Utah is probably going to the Pac-10 / Pac-12 / Pac-16 regardless of what else happens.
-Boise State to the MWC is a done deal. Makes sense for all parties and the MWC will need someone to replace Utah if they leave for the Pac-10 or BYU if they leave for the Western Alliance. Expect this announcement in June.
-Rutgers to the Big Ten is a done deal. Paul Taglibue’s disparaging comments about the potential Long Island television audience for a Rutgers-Minnesota game reek of bitterness. If this announcement is made in June then Rutgers will be able to play Big Ten football in 2012.
-Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Connecticut would all love a Big Ten invite. Each has serious drawbacks, but each brings added East Coast viewers. Pitt’s drawback is that is brings the fewest viewers since Penn State already owns the Pennsylvania market. Syracuse’s problem is that they are a medium sized private school that doesn’t do much research and has a horrible football stadium. Connecticut is not a member of the AAU and their football program has zero tradition and limited national appeal. If the Big Ten goes to 16, one of these three schools is likely to be selected. I think Pittsburgh has the best chance.
-No one knows what the hell Notre Dame is going to do. My guess on their decision and the decisions of others is in the next part of this super-long post.
-Sometime in June, the Big Ten announces it is inviting Nebraska, Missouri, Rutgers, Pitt, and Notre Dame to apply for membership.
-Rutgers and Pitt state plans to apply immediately. Nebraska and Missouri take an extra day before making the same announcement. Notre Dame dilly-dallies for a week or two, but realizes that the Big East is not going to be functional enough for them to play non-football sports in. They agree to join the Big Ten before it is shut off to them forever (if they decline, Kansas or Syracuse gets invited the next day).
-The Big Ten Presidents begrudgingly vote all five applicants in (requires 8 of 11 votes, which is part of the reason an East/West expansion makes sense).
-Texas and the Pac-10 meet to discuss a partnership. The ten remaining Big Twelve schools are on the table, along with Utah, BYU, and possibly Colorado State (large state university that is better academically than it gets credit for and would be a great pair with Colorado).
-Texas asks the Pac-10 to invite Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Colorado. Stanford piisses and moans about the academic direction the league is taking. They threaten to vote against all six schools if Texas Tech and Oklahoma State are included. Texas makes it clear that Texas Tech and Texas A&M are in or the deal if off, but backs down on the Oklahoma schools. The non-California schools in the Pac-10 want Utah and BYU. Stanford piisses and moans some more. Things get ugly.
-Eventually, the Pac-10 abandons its paired structure and invites Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Kansas, Colorado, and Utah. Stanford is convinced to stop crying because BYU is excluded and Kansas and Utah are upgrades over the Oklahoma schools academically and geographically.
-The SEC picks up Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, which have nowhere else to go. North Carolina, Duke, and Virginia tell the SEC to pound sand, but Miami agrees to switch leagues. The SEC picks up West Virginia to round out the league and match the Big Ten and the Pac-16.
-The ACC is upset with the Big Ten and the SEC for trying to poach Maryland, North Carolina, Duke, and Virginia, and for successfully poaching Miami. They are the last to act however, and with 11 teams, the ACC needs to add five more to stay competitive.
-The five remaining Big East football schools Cincinnati, Connecticut, South Florida, Louisville, and Syracuse are obvious candidates. Memphis, East Carolina, Central Florida, Temple, and Buffalo are also in the mix. Hell, the homeless ex-Big Twelvers Kansas State, Iowa State, and Baylor want in, too.
-Syracuse and Connecticut are obviously invited due to quality academics and athletics. Buffalo is in as the fastest growing New York school, the third ranked undergraduate and research school of all the candidates, and the soon to be only sports program in a medium sized city (after the Bills skip town).
-Baylor is a quality academic school with 28,000 students and good athletic facilities, but it is super far away. Same deal for Iowa State, but slightly worse academics and historical athletic success. Kansas State is another step down. South Florida and Central Florida have limited appeal and are Tier 3 academically. East Carolina is not quite there in academics or athletics yet.
-That leaves Temple, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Memphis fighting for the last two spots. All of them are invited to submit comprehensive applications to the ACC. None of the schools is really good enough academically, but Louisville and Memphis promise to improve and get the invites.
-Conference USA kicks out Tulane and UAB, which have a combined one winning season in the last eight years. South Florida, Cincinnati, and Iowa State join.
-The Mountain West adds Boise State, Nevada, Kansas State, and Baylor to get to 12.
-The Sun Belt grabs Louisiana State from the crumbling WAC, plus Tulane and UAB.
-The WAC is down to six schools and tries to get a bunch of FCS schools to move up to FBS so that it can have the necessary eight football teams. To qualify, a school needs to be in FCS now and needs to have averaged 15,000 attendees or paid attendees in one of the last two years. Likely candidates to join the WAC are Montana, Montana State, North Dakota State, and South Dakota State. Fringe candidates are California-Davis, California Polytechnic, and Sacramento State.
-The 2010 football and basketball season go on as scheduled.
-Football and all other college sports are in commotion in 2011 as schools change conferences at different times and in different sports, Bowls and conferences scramble to establish quality tie-ins, and the NCAA reworks the basketball tournament yet again.
-The rest of this super-long post details what the college football landscape might look like in 2012.
POD A ~ South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Miami
POD B ~ Auburn, Alabama, Mississippi, Missippi State
POD C ~ Arkansas, LSU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
POD D ~ Vandy, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia
POD A ~ North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke, Wake
POD B ~ Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Louisville
POD C ~ Florida State, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Memphis
POD D ~ Boston College, Connecticut, Syracuse, Buffalo
POD A ~ Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Ohio State
POD B ~ Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Purdue
POD C ~ Indiana, Northwestern, Illinois, Missouri
POD D ~ Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota
POD A ~ Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State
POD B ~ Stanford, California, UCLA, USC
POD C ~ Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, Colorado
POD D ~ Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Kansas
-These leagues play a nine game conference schedule in one of two ways:
1) Three games against your pod and two games against each of the other pods
-Pac-10 adopts this so schools in Pod A and Pod C get one game in California and Texas every year. ACC probably does too.
2) Three games against your pod, one game against a permanent rival in each of the other pods, and three games against the remainder of one of the other pods
-Big Ten adopts this to keep all annual rivalries intact. SEC probably does too.
-They play three non-conference games.
-Winners of the four pods face off in double-headers at traditional conference championship game cities. The #1 seed plays the #4 seed and the #2 seed plays the #3 seed.
-Winners of the two games in each of the four conferences play in the four BCS Bowls.
-After the BCS Bowls, a Plus-One pairs the two most impressive winners in a Mythical National Championship Game played at rotating cities a la the Super Bowl.
-The four remaining 12 team conferences play eight game conference schedules followed by a championship game. They also play four non-conference games per year against FBS teams. They continue to participate in the bowls, and while they are technically eligible to be selected for the Plus-One MNC game following the bowls, it never happens.
EAST ~ Baylor, TCU, Kansas State, Air Force, Colorado State, New Mexico
WEST ~ San Diego State, UNLV, Nevada, Boise State, BYU, Wyoming
EAST ~ S Florida, C Florida, S Mississippi, E Carolina, Marshall, Cincinnati,
WEST ~ Tulsa, Houston, Southern Methodist, Rice, UTEP, Iowa State
EAST ~ Temple, Ohio, Miami OH, Kent State, Akron, Bowling Green
WEST ~ Toledo, Ball State, N Illinois, C Michigan, W Michigan, E Michigan
EAST ~ Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Troy, UAB, Middle Tenn, W Kentucky
WEST ~ La-Lafayette, La-Monroe, La Tech, Tulane, Arkansas State, North Texas
Hawaii, San Jose State, Fresno State, Idaho, Utah State, New Mexico State
Net change in BCS
IN ~ Utah (and Orrin Hatch), Notre Dame*, Memphis, Buffalo
OUT ~ Iowa State, Kansas State, Baylor, Cincinnati, S Florida