Survival of the Big 5-New York Times Article

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/10/03/sports/ncaafootball/Big-10-realignment.html?smid=tw-share

In the Army Now

I remember watching Pauly Shore movies and noticing how stupid and pointless they were. Army’s football program has sunk into absolute irrelevancy, worthy of a Shore comedy. Last time Army was in a bowl was the Armed Forces Bowl in 2010, where they beat SMU 16-14. Currently, Army is an independent with a 1-3 record, including an overtime loss to Yale, a FCS school. Along with BYU, Notre Dame, and Navy, they are the only independents left. Even Notre Dame saw the utility of at least coming to an arrangement with the ACC. Navy read the tea leaves and did not want to get lost in the shuffle and will join as a football-only member in the AAC after over one hundred years of independence. What becomes of Army in the succeeding years? Is independence viable for Army? Can they just remain a Mickey Mouse game for the other schools? The answer is no.

Army was founded in 1802 as the US Military Academy and even before that, it was occupied the Continental Army starting in 1778. As a matter of fact, the act treason committed by Benedict Arnold was the selling of this fort to the British. Army started playing football in 1890 and has a hallowed history attached to it. Its venue Michie Stadium is one of the most picturesque stadiums in the nation. Nestled near hills and on the Hudson River, it offers breathtaking vistas for any visitors, not to mention having a 40,000 capacity seating. Three Heisman trophy winners have came from Army, including Doc Blanchard, Glenn Davis, and Pete Dawkins and Army has three straight national championships to their credit from 1944-46.

As of right now, the glory days have faded into obscurity and no one really cares about the past. The future currently involves power conferences, lucrative TV contracts, and nationwide exposure. Army has none of those. BYU is panicking for need to be in a power conference and will die on the vine if they cannot reach a resolution. Army will not survive as an independent due to the fact that the Power Five will become more insular as the years come and will not play schools like Army as much. Scheduling games later in the season against marquee opponents will prove to be impossible. What options are available to Army, conference-wise?

If you look at what is out there, not a whole lot but it is not hopeless. Two of the best options will be the MAC and the AAC. From a competitive standpoint and geographically, the MAC would be an excellent fit. The last conference Army was in was C-USA but geographically and competitively, a terrible fit. The furthest school would be Northern Illinois and would be a much-needed eastern school for the MAC. Army is located in West Point, only fifty miles from New York City. Also, they would be a great in-state rival to Buffalo. Army would transition well in the MAC, considering they play at least 4-5 opponents in that conference each seasons.

Nonetheless, if Army wanted to be in the MAC, they would be in already. The best in most intriguing option would be the American Athletic Conference. Navy will join in 2015 and will play a full conference load as a football-only member. The AAC is actually a decent conference. East Carolina is a top-25 program right now while Cincinnati and Central Florida are always dangerous and contenders for the championship while Houston and Tulane are much improved. Army getting invited would stir a ripple that may or may not start a daisy chain of expansion in the Group of Five. If Army was admitted into the conference, why would the AAC stop at thirteen? Just ask the MAC how awkward it was for them to sit at 13.

First, if you have both Army and Navy, think of the implications for the AAC. They would have the opportunity to broadcast the Commander-in-Chief’s Game. In my opinion, it is the purest rivalry because these two schools play the game for the love of it because the next year, a lot of them will be serving tours of duty and some even will die for their country. If you have both Army and Navy in their conference, why not try to persuade Air Force? Air Force would definitely be tempted join a conference with their two biggest rivals and one that has exposure in recruiting hotbeds like Texas and Florida. If Air Force was to accept an invitation, the divisions may shake out like this:

West:

Air Force

Army

Houston

Navy

SMU

Tulane

Tulsa

East:

Central Florida

Cincinnati

Connecticut

East Carolina

Memphis

South Florida

Temple

Since Navy insists upon being in the west due to their need to have visibility in Texas, it would only make sense for Army and Air Force to be in the same division due to the fact that if one school was in another division, you would never see any other games played with cross-division foes. The ripples would start in the Mountain West. Sitting at eleven would not bode well for them and would immediately scout C-USA to replenish their loss. Losing Air Force would be costly but they could survive because at least they would still have Colorado State to keep their toehold in that state. After TCU left for the Big 12 in 2012, the MWC has been trying to find an in-road into Texas and the new member will most likely come from here. There are several schools including UTEP, Texas State, and North Texas but the two best ones would be Rice and UT-San Antonio.

Historically, Rice is a really good option. Rice is an AAU institutions, so you know they have the academic chops. Rice is the defending C-USA champion in football and in 2002, they won the NCAA championship in football. Rice is in the city of Houston, a huge market. The city Houston has more than enough fans to support the Houston Rockets, Houston Texans, Houston Astros, and even the University of Houston but the base has to be spread thin but nonetheless, if they are looking for a school that can be immediately competitive, Rice would fit the bill. If the MWC is unsure, UT-San Antonio may be another compelling option. San Antonio is a top-ten media market and the only competition for viewership will come from the San Antonio Spurs. In their inaugural season, UT-San Antonio saw over 57,000 fans attend the game. San Antonio is hungry for football and is an untapped market while Rice has way too much competition for eyeballs. Even though UT-San Antonio is an unproven quantity, they have a lot of potential to be a great program.

If I was one of the presidents or the commissioner, it would be a tough choice but I would choose UT-San Antonio. The facilities and fan base alone would tip the scales in their favor. C-USA would have to fill the void with a western school they would choose between New Mexico State and Texas State. New Mexico State would get the nod because C-USA needs a rival for UTEP that is in close proximity to them. With only ten schools and Karl Benson wanting a conference championship in the Sun Belt, he would most likely petition the president to take North Dakota State as a football-only member while adding Liberty or Eastern Kentucky as a full-member. Another alternative altogether would be Air Force staying in the MWC and breaking this chain of events. The AAC would end up adding UMass as a full-sports members and to even things up for all other sports, Saint Louis would be an excellent school as an associate member. Imagine the basketball in the AAC with Saint Louis, UConn, Cincy, Temple, and UMass. What a conference!

In conclusion, Army stands at the precipice of maybe falling into perpetual darkness. Army will have to join a conference or else face elimination. How long will it take for them to decide?

Break on Through to the Other Side

Cincinnati has the chance to do something it has not done since 1897: beat Ohio State. Certainly, all sorts of pandemonium and chaos would ensue if the Bearcats were to pull off such a feat. Other than UConn, no other school has gotten the muddier end of the stick on expansion than Cincinnati. When it was the Big East, they won the conference championship three times and went undefeated two years in a row. With them two seasons, they went to two straight BCS bowls. Ohio State leads the all-time series 13-2. Currently, Ohio State will limp into the game #22 in the rankings. Despite a much-maligned Big Ten and a Buckeyes, damnit, they are still Ohio State and a marquis program. In 2002, on their way to winning their last national championship, Ohio State managed to squeak by Cincy with a 13-9 victory. In weight of the loss, Cincinnati had nothing to be ashamed. Even Jim Tressel coach of Ohio State said that we were lucky to win because they outplayed in every facet of the game. Cincinnati has a great stage to prove themselves that they are worthy of being with the Power Five Schools. They are currently 2-0 and if they can beat Ohio State and do it convincingly, I hope the Big 12 will be put on notice. Also, it would be even more delicious to Cincinnati because  they can call themselves the best school in Ohio. Imagine that. With the Bearcats beating the Buckeyes, they have a good chance of going undefeated and in my opinion, with all the schools that were poached from the AAC/BE, the American Athletic Conference still is a decent and balanced league. Who is to say that they would not go to playoffs? What more could you ask for? They scheduled worthy opponents and they won their conference outright. If this cannot raise the eyebrows of the short-sighted power brokers in the Big 12, then what will? If not for full membership, what about an associate membership?

For further reading, click below for an intriguing article. Gunner Kiel of Cincinnati could be one of the better quarterbacks that will come up for the draft in 2015.

http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/11575776/tommy-tuberville-cincinnati-bearcats-trying-scale-college-football-playoff-wall

News, Discussions, and Rumors 09-24-2014

Interesting article from ESPN. Mark Dantonio, coach of Michigan State, states that conferences that hold championship game should be awarded by the playoff committee with a spot. Schools with similar records from those that do not play a championship game should take precedent. This is coming from the backlash that Big Ten received with the big road loss they had against Oregon, Ohio State’s loss to Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame blanking Michigan 31-0. I am sure he is taking a shot against the Big 12 when he says this. Who knows? Pressure from other conferences may force the Big 12’s hand.

http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/11575745/mark-dantonio-michigan-state-spartans-says-only-conference-champions-play-college-football-playoff

What Else Do They Have to Prove?

For the second straight year in a row, BYU has absolutely dominated Texas and once again, the rushing attack of the Cougars have cut new orifices into Big Daddy Longhorn. Sure, Texas is rebuilding with a new head coach but to be considered a mid-major program and go into Darryl K. Royal and tear them a new asshole is nothing short but of impressive. Taysom Hill engineered the complete destruction of the Big 12 juggernaut known as Texas. Bronco Mendenhall, the head coach of BYU, has stated that the Cougars need to join a conference like the Big 12 in order to still be with the elites of college football. Even with impressive consecutive exhibitions of their artistry of dissecting Texas’ defense, the Big 12 hardly even bats an eye to at least considering BYU. I could rehash every argument that I have made for BYU but those are in my other posts. If money is a concern, BYU has plenty of it. Nonetheless, I cannot help but be proud of BYU as currently, they sit at 4-0 including wins against Virginia, Houston, UConn, and the aforementioned Texas. Looking forward to the rest of the season, the games that stick out are Cal, Boise State, and UCF. Not the most marquee of schedules but the way BYU is playing, they could possibly go undefeated and maybe get into the playoffs or at least finish with the best record in the Group of Five and go to an Access Bowl. In closing, if the Big 12 is waiting for a reason to admit BYU, maybe they should treat the two times they stomped the Longhorns into the ground as an audition. If not for only Texas but also look at the win they had against Oklahoma in 2009, when the Sooners had Heisman quarterback Sam Bradford. As a matter of fact, that game changed the fortunes of the Sooners because Bradford sustained a season-ending injury and Oklahoma’s quest of going to the national championship game was dashed. How many more games will it take for the Big 12 to realize the BYU belongs with them?

For further reading, click on this link here to read an article from Tulsa World, which states all the arguments I have have made for and against BYU’s inclusion in the past. Also, this is an interesting piece that traces the link between BYU and the state of Oklahoma.

News, Discussions, and Rumors 9-6-2014

From Sooners Nation, a web page on ESPN.com, one fan named OldSchoolBYU asked Jake Trotter if adding BYU to the conference is justified. I say yes but Mr. Trotter does have a point: Let’s play this one by ear if you are the Big 12. If this year they are gypped out of a playoff spot due to a lack of conference championship game then yes, add two schools but right now, the Big 12 is enjoying a nice revenue stream. Nonetheless, I think BYU pays for itself. ESPN seems to think so paying them $6-8 million each year to have their games televised. Obviously, they are a marketable commodity. As a fan, I would like to see the Big 12 expand to twelve schools to have a championship game but I am not a president. I hardly am qualified to make those decisions but I do question some of the decisions in the past that the Big 12 made including not getting Louisville when you had the chance. SHAME ON THEM!!! A combination of Louisville and BYU would have paid for themselves in the long run. Despite some of the things that I have written taken out of context about BYU, believe or not, I am one of the biggest proponents of BYU going to the Big 12. Even as expansion has came screeching to a halt, people cannot get enough of it and still have voracious appetite for all news and rumors, but such is the rancor of this site.

http://espn.go.com/blog/colleges/oklahoma

A Chink in the Armor?

One sports writer used the same title that I am using in this article because it was about Jeremy Lin, an Asian-American basketball player. I have a different purpose in mind. Currently, the SEC enjoys and prides itself being the most dominant conference in the land and they have a good argument for it. The SEC one seven straight national titles and nine of the national titles during the BCS era. This year alone, the SEC has had a representative in all three national title games including the BCS National Championship game which featured Florida State vs. Auburn, the NCAA men’s basketball championship with UConn vs. Kentucky. As a matter of fact, two of the schools in the Final Four were from the SEC, Kentucky and Florida. Last but not least, Vanderbilt beat Virginia to win the College World Series. The SEC will launch the SEC Network, which will make the SEC even richer and even more powerful as a conference, rivaling the revenue the Big Ten receives. The SEC members are so content that they do not bother even putting exit fees or bundling their revenue into a grant of rights. The attitude the SEC has is that if you do not want or like being in our conference, do not let the door hit your ass on the way. Could you say the SEC is invincible? Conventional logic may dictate this but their is one member who may jump the first chance they get: Missouri.

Currently, Missouri resides in the SEC. geographically, they do not fit the SEC metric of being in the South. Missouri is a Midwestern state and certainly, a different culture although some would say otherwise. For example, the people living in the cities pronounce Missouri as “Mi-zur-ee” while people in the sticks pronounce it as “Mi-zur-uh.” In just two years, Missouri has made great strides adjusting in the SEC including making it to the SEC Championship Game against Auburn. Missouri has a supportive fan base that is unwavering, especially for heroes like All-SEC defensive lineman Michael Sam, who came out about his homosexuality just this year. Nonetheless, they have no natural rivalries in the SEC. they are almost an outlier. Whenever Missouri was added, there was an argument in whether they would place them in the west or east division. If they ended up in the west, Auburn would have went to the east and Alabama did not like the fact that this would give Auburn an edge in recruiting states like Florida or Georgia and plus, Bama did not want to give up its rivalry with Tennessee. Mizzou ended up in the east. Their farthest opponent is Florida, which is over 1,000 miles away in Gainesville.

Curiously, you may ask how Missouri ended up in the SEC? First in 2010, As Colorado had left the Big 12, Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State were looking to dissolve the Big 12 and join the PAC-12 but Texas A&M decided to negotiate with the SEC instead. The deal fell through as the powers in the PAC-12 decided against it. Meanwhile, Missouri saw this and were saying to themselves “Oh shit.” They decided on trying to court the Big Ten. The Big Ten did their due diligence and when the opportunity presented itself, they decided on Nebraska instead. The wholesale slaughter of the Big 12 was briefly averted but the grim reaper came knocking on their door again in 2011. After adding Utah and Colorado, a rebranded PAC-12 were presented once again with the eternal question: expand or not to expand? Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State were for the second time, about to slit the throat of the Big 12 by negotiating with the PAC-12. While this was going on, Missouri was left wondering if they were on the Titanic without reaching a life boat. That same year, Texas A&M, for a number of reason, was fed up being the little brother school of Texas and they accepted an invitation to the SEC. Thirteen is an awkward number but the SEC were going to schedule thirteen anyways. Seeing that their dreams of joining the Big Ten were dashed, they saw the SEC as their only hope. In November 2011, they accepted an invitation to the SEC to become the fourteenth member. Even though Larry Scott and the rest of the PAC-12 put the kibosh on further expansion talk, Missouri rightfully could not remain in a conference that was going through so much instability.

In total, Missouri has been a great member for the SEC and has enjoyed great success in conference but nonetheless, the Big Ten would be a better home for them. First of all, the Big Ten has been a traditionally Midwestern conference from its inception. The only way that Missouri would be able to join the Big Ten is if the Big 12 dissolves. How ironic that the Big 12 holds their destiny still, somewhat in their hands. If the Big 12 were to disband, Kansas would become available and the Big Ten would add them because their basketball program is a valuable commodity. It would be asinine to sit a fifteen. Missouri would seize the moment and petition the Big Ten for membership. With Delany’s appetite for a Northeast corridor sated with the additions of Rutgers and Maryland, Missouri has a strong chance of being accepted. If this were to happen, Missouri would be overjoyed. In the Big Ten, they already have rivalries with Illinois and Nebraska and with Kansas, they could reignite the Border War again. Missouri is an AAU institution with the majority of the Big Ten schools. Purdue could shift to the eastern division and year and year, Missouri would become a potential powerhouse the Big Ten.

What would be of the SEC if Missouri were to leave? If Missouri left and the Big 12 collapsed, West Virginia would be their most viable option. It would make sense because for one, they are a public school in the South with a small-college town atmosphere, like the majority of the schools in the SEC are. West Virginia also emphasizes football first. They would actually be in the eastern division and could make a natural intrastate rivalry with Kentucky. Would this be what the SEC wants? WVU would be the best option available but as a GM in the NFL might draft someone to be used a bargaining chip, so would the SEC dispose of WVU in the same way. Although they do have a rabid fan base, market-wise, it does nothing for you. The SEC would need to add a school from a state with an equally or greater population base as Missouri. From this point on, grand wizard of the SEC Mike Slive would negotiate with the ACC and Jon Swofford to see if they are interested in a trade. Hopefully, the Swoff bites.

If Swofford takes the bait, the SEC would most likely go after a school that is in Virginia or North Carolina. Virginia Tech, NC State and Wake Forest would be your most immediate candidates. First off, Virginia Tech has grown into a perennial football power and in the short time they have been in the ACC, they have been contenders for the ACC Championship. Virginia Tech have a football-first cultural and their school is in a small town in the South. Honestly, with the right resources, Virginia Tech could be competitive in the SEC but Virginia fought tooth and nail for them to be in the conference. VT would not want to be a conference punching bag, year in and year out as school like Georgia and Florida would consistently beat them each year. Wake Forest is interesting because it resides in Winston-Salem, a moderately sized Southern town. Wake Forest would boost the academic profile of the SEC. WF also had a continual rivalry with Vanderbilt. WF would give access to a state that the SEC desires: North Carolina. Wake Forest has hardly had good seasons in football and would just become a Mickey Mouse squad in the SEC. Lastly, NC State. North Carolina State fits the profile residing in a small or moderately sized Southern town of Raleigh. For the most part, NC State is a football-first school although basketball is equally important. Also, a lot of fans and alumni I have seen in chatrooms and blogs said that they would like to join the SEC in order to have a leg up to the rest of the schools in their state. Schools in the SEC would have access to the talent rich state of North Carolina and NC State could recruit players in the deep South. NC State would not be alone. Before South Carolina joined the SEC, NC State and South Carolina had a fierce rivalry that could be important once again when it comes to prestige and recruiting.

If the exchange did take place, the ACC would be a better place for WVU. Think of it; the majority of WVU’s rivals are in the ACC like Pittsburgh, Louisville, Syracuse, and Virginia Tech. Since they would be taking the place of NC State in the Atlantic division, they could already have in place Syracuse and Louisville. With enough guile in persuasion, the ACC could be accommodating enough to allow some of the cross-divisional rivalries to be changed up and we could see the Backyard Brawl with Pitt-WVU renewed. In closing, Mizzou left the Big 12 and joined the SEC not out of want, but of necessity. If given the chance, Mizzou would join the Big Ten in a heartbeat. I would not blame them one bit. The only conference that has the clout to pilfer any of the schools in the SEC would be the Big Ten. The Big 12 could collapses sooner than their grant of rights runs and out and you know what: that would not see such a bad things.