August 30, 2011

Musings on Conference Realignment (2011 edition)

NCAAFootballBye bye, A&M.  At least that's what seems to be happening.  A&M, seeking as much attention as Texas got by looking at the PAC-12 expansion last year, is headed to the SEC.  They're getting the attention, but not the "Oh no, the Big 12 is going to die as a result" reaction that came last year (along with my predictions for the outcome, the first of which happened to be right - for a year - with the 10 teams).

Now, though, the Commish is saying we would take aggressive action to replace A&M, and some of the ADs seem even giddy to have A&M gone and get the chance to replace them.  So, if we did, who would get the invite?  ESPN has an interesting analysis, but my analysis is usually more ridiculous.  With random other candidates.  Some that make no sense.

That said, I still think the conference should aggressively pursue not 1, not 3, but 7 teams to replace A&M.  Not because A&M needs 7 teams to replace them, in fact, we could easily add any one of the following schools and end up just fine.  I just think the Big XII expansion to 16 teams allows for trademarking Big XVI before the Big Ten gets there.  That said, are there even 7 teams out there worthwhile?  Here are some thoughts on candidates (some of which have not been mentioned by others, just my pulling names out of a hat)

  • BYU - this seems to be the favorite choice of ESPN analysts.  I think it's a likely move for them as they're already playing Texas this year, and it makes sense from a viewership for the conference, too.
  • Air Force Academy - I still think this is a good fit and a worthy replacement for the missing Buffaloes from last year.
  • TCU - Questions are out there about TCU's attendance being too small, but they have been successful as a BCS-busting team for a few years and we know they still are upset they weren't invited the first time the Big XII was formed.  Maybe they join up before they play a down in the Big East.  And since they're playing BYU this year, perhaps that's a preview of a conference game to come.
  • Pitt - I'm not sure where this rumor surfaced either, but I read it in the Dallas Morning News yesterday.  But Baylor's Defensive Coordinator Phil Bennett came from there, so maybe there are "ties" between Big XII coaching staffs an administration with Pittsburgh.  Not sure what this adds other than a totally new market for Big XII athletics.
  • Boise State - Obviously the problem here is "what do they offer outside of football and a blue field?" and that's a question, but perhaps if we're expanding beyond 12, all we need is football for the extra 4.  That's where the money's at.  Boise is ready to move to bigger, better conferences (which it thought it was getting by a move to the Mountain West before the MWC defections), and an AQ invite might be looked favorably upon.  I still think Baylor would be served well with a home field of gold.
  • Arkansas** - OK, would they really want to come back to join the SWC buddies?  Maybe, maybe not.  The money's gonna be better in the SEC, but then again, A&M could fit into the SEC as an Arkansas replacement, leaving the SEC without the "who's the 14th team" dilemma and fitting the Big XII with a good replacement.  And Arkansas gets to stay regional.
  • Clemson - on the non-regional front, Clemson might be a fit - they have a full complement of sports, and are a whole new geographic market.  And if there are any Clemson fans holding their breath to be the next SEC team, they should exhale.  There is already a South Carolina team and a pair of "Tigers" in the SEC.  They don't need a third.  Clemson could join Missouri in the Big XII and we could match the SEC in number of schools with a Tiger mascot as well.
Thoughts on other replacement candidates (realistic, previously mentioned, or otherwise):
  • Houston - Other than reviving the SWC and some top 25 football votes, I'm not sure what Houston adds other than potential for Art Briles to confirm he made the right move to go to Baylor.
  • SMU - Other than reviving the SWC, I have no clue why SMU would be considered, other than the fact that they are jumping up and down saying "Pick me, pick me"
  • Notre Dame - would be interesting, I doubt they will give up their independence, though.  This may cause problems in getting BYU, too, if they continue to play "copy Notre Dame" as their university strategy.
  • Louisville - Agree with David Ubben this could be a nice complement but not sure if they're being considered seriously.
  • Florida State - So the SEC wants a foothold in Texas recruiting?  How about the Big XII get one in Florida recruiting?  The ACC is not a powerhouse, and then we would have potential for some Big XII/SEC in-state rivalry games.
  • Georgia Tech - See Florida State.
  • Arizona - Have Bob Stoops call up Mike and start the negotiations.  Raiding the PAC-12 while unlikely sure would be fun.
  • Northwestern - Hey, having another private school might be fun.  Especially one in a Chicago television market and a full list of sports.  And maybe NU and KSU could get discounts on purple fabric (and TCU if they join as well).  Granted, would we want two sets of Tigers AND two Wildcats?  I dunno.  It's not really a fair trade for Nebraska, but it would also throw some spikes on the highway in front of Big Ten expansion plans.
OK OK, so likely scenario is that Big XII adds 1-3 teams, and most likely it won't be teams that truly solidify the conference's future before Texas decides to take a few of its friends West sometime in the future.

But I can hope.  And I can hope that Baylor is able to stay in the Big XII and not end up in Conference USA.  But if the replacement teams are Conference USA teams, have we accomplished much?

We'll discuss again in 2012 when this happens again.

**Note: I have since read an article indicating that Arkansas could stand to make at least $2 million a year MORE by taking A&M's revenue share. I thought the SEC model would give them more money, but perhaps I am wrong. If you have more details on this feel free to share in the comments.

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