Conference Realignment Predictions

Last Updated on June 5, 2014

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!

Start Now!

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  • iakobos
    September 17, 2011

    Even if OU and OSU go to the Pac-12 I don’t see yet why tu wouldn’t keep the Big-12 together. A reconfigured Big-12 may have to renegotiate its TV contracts but because of the unequal revenue sharing tu can still demand the lion’s share of the money. If they maintain the status quo monetarily, regardless of who they add they can turn the Big-12 into a conference they’re guaranteed to win every year. And since it’s an AQ conference that puts them in a BCS bowl every year. Plus they get to keep the LHN. Other than the fact they would have a pretty lame conference I don’t see any downside to it.

  • Alex
    September 17, 2011

    I keep hearing this school is going here, and that school is going there… What I’m not hearing is the other side of the story, do the schools in any given Conference WANT to expand? While the SEC and its member schools are on record wanting A&M, but listen to the AD’s and Presidents of the schools in the other conferences and enthusiasm is decidedly luke warm

    Case in point is the PAC12, where Arizona, ASU, Colorado, Utah, and WSU are all leery of expansion. They see an expansion to include OU/OSU threatening their rotation to play games in California. Hence, just because OU/OSU may want to go that doesn’t mean an invitation is or would be forthcoming. That’s one of reasons Larry Scott has been talking down possible expansion, despite his expressed personal preference for it. Word on the street is he doesn’t have the votes to expand at this time.

    While moving Texas to the ACC make some sense as a theoretical/academic exercise, the reality is it’s a bad move for the ACC. Honestly, the ACC can allows tier 3 rights in an economic environment where no team can exploit those rights in an exorbitant way. Adding Texas with the LHN and the ACC will have just transferred the toxic waste that polluted the Big12 to near extinction into their own nest.

    Texas has been at the center of every Conference break-up it has been a member of, does the ACC want to be next?

  • kruxdeux
    September 19, 2011

    I like the idea of Kansas in the ACC. Haven’t heard much “chatter” about that elsewhere.

  • R.J. Dickens
    September 20, 2011

    Excuse my French, lady, but you don’t know your ass from a hole in the ground about Kansas State’s “academics”.
    Over the last 25 years, KSU has produced more Rhoades, Fullbright, Goldwater and Truman Scholar nominees than any other public institution.

    • Chip (@user7145)
      September 28, 2011

      The Big Ten is very unlikely to invite KSU simply because KSU is not an AAU member. Their pattern has been to only invite AAU universities (and all of their current universities are AAU with the exception of Nebraska which was recently kicked out of the organization).

  • Warren Bruhn
    October 15, 2011

    Wow! The Pac 12, Big Ten, SEC, and ACC have really put a freeze on this situation by stopping expansion for a bit, while the Big 12 finally made a good move by stealing TCU from the Big East. That leaves us looking at desperation moves by the Big East as the big story of October. What a year!