How conferences will realign is anyone’s guess. I’ve spoken with athletic department executives at a number of schools and they’ve asked me as many questions as I’ve asked them. No one has a clear idea of how things will shake out.
What I do know is that my predictions from over a month ago were wrong. So, I’m ready to roll out some new ones. This time I want to talk about the timing, because I think that’s a huge part of how this all unfolds.
The SEC is going to add Texas A&M. The legal maneuvering is a stall tactic and will be resolved.
It’s beginning to sound like Pitt and Syracuse to the ACC will be the surprise move that will blow things wide open. Let’s say that happens next.
Now the Big East needs to add at least a couple of teams…or go back to being a basketball conference. Six weeks ago I said that the Big East would be an innocent bystander who would be fatally wounded in the conference realignment standoff. I still think it’s possible.
If the Big East is looking around, where are they looking? Should they go after Big 12 schools like Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Texas Tech or Baylor? Those schools might have to make a decision before they know if Oklahoma or Texas will finish off the Big 12 by leaving. If you were one of those schools, what would you do? I think I’d be listening to the Big East, especially if I was Iowa State or Baylor and got the call. If you’re those schools, do you want to risk that there are no available chairs when the music stops playing?
I think it’s a tougher call for Kansas, Kansas State and Texas Tech, because they could end up with a better option. If I’m them, I try to stall as long as possible.
The Big East could also invite UCF, East Carolina, Houston or a number of other schools. If I’m any of those schools and get the call, I’m putting ink on paper as quickly as possible.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma could finalize its move to the Pac-12 any day now. Oklahoma State’s President is perhaps the only President getting any sleep these days. His horse is effectively hitched to Oklahoma’s wagon.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State moving to the Pac-12 do not mean the end of the Big 12. The Big 12 is over when Texas says it is. If they want to stay, and they certainly have reasons to, the Big 12 can look at BYU, Air Force, Houston, SMU or maybe try to lure a Big East school away. Again, the Big East is like a deer frozen in the headlights. It just has to wait and see if anyone takes it out.
In the meantime, the SEC needs a 14th member. If the Big 12 stays intact, I’m not convinced they add 14 right away. However, if the Big 12 is coming apart, the SEC could snag Missouri.
And what exactly is the Big Ten doing? Delaney is like a General up on a hill watching the battle take place in the valley below. He could swoop in and make a move if he needs to, but for right now he appears to be lying in wait.
Obviously the Big Ten would love to add Notre Dame, but I don’t see them joining a conference until their hand is forced by the BCS. They’ll sit this round out. Other candidates? Kansas, Missouri, UCONN, Syracuse and Rutgers. If the SEC grabs Missouri first, I think the Big Ten could add all four of the others. Kansas State doesn’t get to tag along with Kansas because of academics, and the other three make a nice triangle around New York. The Big Ten Network would love that. And remember, this isn’t about ratings. It’s about being able to tell advertisers you’re in a market.
Back to the ACC. I still think Texas to the ACC makes more sense than most think. Who comes with them? If I’m the ACC, I want Kansas. Which means I better get to them before the Big Ten or Pac-12 do. I don’t think Texas politicians will be able to force Texas Tech down the ACC’s throat along with Texas, and I don’t believe the ACC wants them.
Does the Pac-12 want to go to 16? Maybe they want Kansas and are willing to look past Kansas State’s academics to take them too. I’m not sold on this though. They won’t take BYU with their culture that ‘s not a perfect fit and their ban on Sunday athletics. They won’t take Boise State either, sorry Bronco fans.
I’m unconvinced we’re going to four 16-team super conferences. I think it’s a media creation that fans have latched onto because everyone thinks it sets up the system for a four-team playoff. Conferences aren’t going to add unless the final picture involves more money for its members. Not every addition does that.
Think you know how it should all shake out? Try the conference realignment game Chadd Scott and I developed – Choose Your Own Adventure style!