Luke Warm Linkage

Tom Brady now. Tom Brady later.

College Football Expansion Hoopla V2.0

Will the USC Song Girls cheer for the Trojans or the Longhorns in the 2012 Pac-10 Championship Game?

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.

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-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 Continue reading

A Revolution in College Athletics

The current set-up in college sports that you and I grew up with is soon to be a thing of the past. We will look back upon them with fond memories and a little drool on our chins, saying, “Back in my day…” College athletics are set to undergo a radical transformation.

It will begin with the two biggest sports: football and basketball. For much of the now departed college basketball season, rumor swirled of the NCAA’s impending opt-out. In other words, they can void the current contract with CBS and put the men’s tournament on the open market for the highest bidder. But with the new TV deal will likely come an expansion of the tournament from its current 65 team format to a 96 one, eliminating the National Invitational Tournament in the process.
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The big money in college athletics is on the gridiron. The basketball change may leave some ripples across the land, but a major shake-up in football will affect all other collegiate sports. The rumor mill began last year when the Big Ten, the NCAA’s richest conference, publicly stated its desire to add at least one new member. In doing so, the Big Ten would have twelve members and would be able to play that all important conference championship game.

However, the Big Ten may be looking to add more than one team. Tony Barnhart, aka Mr. College Football, of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote in a recent blog post, “The Big Ten is looking at three plans: Stand pat with 11 teams, add one team (hopefully Notre Dame) or make a blockbuster move and go to 16.”

It seems unlikely at this point that the Big Ten would not expand. They’ve announced intentions to do so which would lead us all to believe they will follow through with those plans. Adding one team would give them the minimum number to have the coveted championship game. And every one loves to say Notre Dame is the obvious choice because they are. But the Irish have been reluctant to join in the past. This is what leads many, including me, to believe that a “superconference” is in the making.

A superconference of 16 teams forces Notre Dame to join. Irish Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick even admitted so at a press conference for the Big East basketball tournament (of which Notre Dame is a member): “The college landscape is as unstable as I’ve seen it… You could each invent a scenario that would force our hand.” He went on to say that Notre Dame would like to maintain its football independence.

But the question is, can they? With the possible realignment of 16 teams in the Big Ten, Notre Dame would have to join out of necessity. For one, adding five teams most likely means at least one and probably more Big East teams would be absorbed. Frank the Tank, a blogger who writes about Chicago and University of Illinois sports as well as other topics, states that “Syracuse and Rutgers (along with the Irish) are virtual locks” for a 16 team Big Ten. Both universities bring the New York City market with them which is one market the Big Ten has yet to fully penetrate (especially with the Big Ten Network television channel).

And if the Big East is torn apart (again), that leaves the question of automatic bids to the NCAA tourney and a BCS bid in football. Notre Dame is basically given a BCS bid without conference affiliation as long as they finish in the top 12 of the standings. But it could still force their hand in other sports. And we cannot discount the possibility of a change in the BCS format if the rest of college athletics transforms. I do not specifically mean a playoff, but it is logical to think that a seismic shift in conferences could result in changes to the current format.

Frank the Tank goes on to look at possible Big Ten candidates sans the three locks mentioned earlier. One such scenario involves bringing in Maryland and Boston College to “capture the entire Northeast, while, at least on paper, adding New York, Boston, and Washington markets.” Another possibility is to get Nebraska and Kansas from the Big XII which adds a basketball and a football power for balance as well as adding new markets. Finally, Frank writes Texas and Texas A&M could come together as a political package (one couldn’t go without the other).
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While I am not willing to discuss every possibility, it seems logical one of these three moves is going to happen. But whatever the Big Ten does, it will force the other conferences to react. The SEC stands next to the Big Ten in terms of economic superiority. Do they expand as well? If the Big XII, ACC, or Big East is ransacked, what becomes of those conferences and their automatic bids? Does the Pac 10 answer?

It is clear that a revolution in college athletics is in the immediate future, possibly as early as the 2012 football season if the decisions are made soon. At this point, the Big Ten holds the key to everything. They could add only one team and the landscape would probably remain similar to how it is. Or they could make a tidal wave and transform college athletics to something we’ve never seen before. Eventually, the superconferences will come to fruition, so why not start now?