The biggest piece of news to come down the pike as of late is the Power Five expected to be given full autonomy over their affairs. I agree with the fact that athletes need to be paid full cost of tuition for their four years. Why not? They make a lot of money for you. Also, it is not fair that a star football player has to worry about what he will be eating tuna fish for the rest of the time he is there. Does that mean that conferences like the Big 12 will get to have a championship game without going to twelve? No. It just means those 65 will vote on matters by majority rule. Why would the PAC-12, Big Ten, SEC, and ACC vote on something giving favor to the Big 12 when in the past, they had to abide by the rules? Maybe I am wrong. Maybe, this is a new era of cooperation amongst conferences, not competition but if they want to further marginalize the Big 12, then vote against any changes to conference championship requirements.
Usually, when lowly bloggers like I write about expansion, they forget about the little guys. In my previous article, I covered what would happen if the Big 12 were to suddenly implode. I would like to discuss the possible ripples that such a move would incur. Here is a scenario of what would most likely happen:
THE MOST UNFORTUNATE VICTIM- BYU would see what was going on around them and they would start to panic. The ACC has already stated that none of its members are interested in a series with BYU in the future. More heart-wrenching, starting in 2016, the Big Ten will go to a nine-game conference schedule. The ACC is contemplating it and so is the SEC. The PAC-12 and Big 12 members already play a nine game schedule. When it comes later in the season, hello Idaho and New Mexico State. Sorry Vandals and Aggies fans but you both have become the punching bag of college football. Anyways, as an independent, they saw themselves as Brad Pitt but come to find out, they were just wearing beer goggles and they look more like Don Rickles. They are not Notre Dame. What needs to happen is BYU set up some scheduling arrangement with the Mountain West or become a football-only member. The Mountain West will sense their desperation and will force BYU into a corner. BYU will come crawling back on its hands and knees and grudgingly accept membership into the Mountain West. One thing they do have going for them is Boise State. BSU agreed to come back if they had some autonomy and BSU has a deal that allows them to have some third-tier rights to their football games. I am sure the Mountain West will make some accommodations with the BYU, considering that BYU does have a decent deal with ESPN to broadcast their games worth $6-8 million a year. BYU could still keep its Olympic-sports in the West Coast Conference and they could schedule some decent match-up each year with schools like Boise State.
THIRTEEN IS SUCH AN UNLUCKY NUMBER- Just ask the MAC how frustrating it has been scheduling with thirteen schools. Thirteen is really awkward for division line-ups. Before their entry into the Big 12, TCU was a potent member of the MWC, one of the winningest non-BCS schools of all time. Since their departure, the MWC has been looking for a way back into Texas. They do not have the power to poach SMU and Houston from the AAC because they are equals but prestige-wise, they are head and shoulders above Conference USA. One member that has been vocal in the past about joining C-USA has been UTEP. Geographically, El Paso is in the Mountain Time Zone. EL Paso, along with Juarez, Mexico, share a metropolitan area of over two million people. UTEP could be used as a natural in-conference rival for New Mexico, since it is only four hours away from Albuquerque. Nonetheless, if they wanted to grab UTEP, they would have already done so. One school that is still highly appealing if BYU went back to the Mountain West would be Rice. Rice resides in the city of Houston which has a metro area of over 3 million people. Rice is an AAU member and has recently won the C-USA championship in football and baseball. Grabbing UTEP would still make the MWC a regional power but acquiring Rice would make them a national power, somewhat. This is how the conference would shake out.
San Diego State
San Jose State
With the additions of BYU and Rice, I think it would be quite a formidable conference.
TAKING THEIR LUMPS- With the exodus of Rice, C-USA is faced with the dilemma of having only thirteen schools. Where do they go? Preferably, they would go west. First, should they fill the void with a Texas school? The only one available they could get is Texas State. With the addition of Texas State, they have a natural, prefabricated rival in UT-San Antonio. Nonetheless, do you necessarily need to do that if you are Britton Batowsky? Arkansas State is another possibility. They could act as a rival with LA Tech but LA Tech and Southern Miss will become quite the rivalry in the future. What about LA-Lafayette or LA-Monroe? It could give LA Tech a natural instate rival but would this add anything? Preferably, one school that needs a travel partner is UTEP. The closest school to them is UT-San Antonio, which is six hours away. UTEP is a geographic outlier in need of a rival in closer proximity to them. The perfect school would be New Mexico State. New Mexico State will play football in the Sun Belt starting this year and plays its other sports in the WAC. NMSU is only ninety miles away from UTEP and they play each other in a rivalry called the Battle of I-10 each year for the Brass Spittoon. NMSU would make C-USA an even tougher basketball conference.
TWISTING THE KNIFE DEEPER- When NMSU bolts, the Sun Belt will be left with ten football schools and eleven all-sports schools, not the ideal setup for Karl Benson and the presidents in the SBC. Usually, two schools that the Sun Belt would acquire would bring along all of their sports but if that were to happen, they would have an inordinate amount of Olympic-sports members in their conference. If they wanted a football-only member, a great candidate would be North Dakota State. North Dakota State has become the new Appalachian State at the FCS level by winning three straight national titles. NDSU is white-hot and Benson has been in contact with them in the past. If NDSU wants to keep up with the arms race, they should at least consider moving up to FBS level. If NDSU joined the SBC, it would give Idaho a nominal travel partner. Certainly, Fargo, ND is a lot closer to Moscow, ID than say Atlanta, GA. That takes care of the football only school; now comes the quagmire of adding an all-sports member. I have already wrote an article about the candidates for the SBC and I still Liberty is pound for pound, the best school available because of finances, potential growth factor, consistency in all sports, and its proximity to App State.
LAST BUT LEAST- The very first casualty of the modern expansion wars has been the WAC; so much so that they do not even sponsor football. With the loss of NMSU, they once again would need a new member fast. If NDSU joined the SBC for football-only, an immediate answer for the rest of their sports would be WAC and the WAC is on the lay for anyone.
Expansion has caused ripples and scars throughout all of college sports. It has torn apart conferences and time-honored traditions but as long as the rivers flow and the mountains tower above the sky, hopefully, so will college sports.
Thanks for the first 100,000 site visits!
I read this article from a site called Saturdayblitz.com. In reality, this piece is an author named Caleb Calhoun’s expansion wet dream. He predicts first that the Big Ten will poach Syracuse and Boston College. They may do so in the future but the only problem is that if the Big Ten wanted them, they could have had them already. With the rule of the Big Ten, geographically, it would have made sense because Penn State borders Syracuse, which is in upstate New York and New York borders Massachusetts, where Boston College is located. It made more sense to add Rutgers and Maryland. One, unlike Syracuse and Boston College, two private schools, Rutgers and Maryland are two large land grant public universities that happen to be members of the AAU, which almost every member of the Big Ten is, saving Northwestern, which is also privately funded and Nebraska, not a member of the AAU. Also, Syracuse marginally penetrates New York City and Boston is more of a pro sports town. On the flip side, Rutgers give you more of the New York/New Jersey metroplex while Maryland gives you on a silver platter the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. markets, a lot more cable subscribers.
More troubling, he states that Notre Dame will join the Big 12. Only one word for this: HUH?! Notre Dame has fought tooth and nail to maintain independence. Why would they change the paradigm now? Notre Dame has a sweetheart deal with NBC to broadcast all their home games and ESPN/ABC will broadcast the rest. Notre Dame, by themselves, have a seat at the Power Five table. If they had to join a conference, why the Big 12? Culturally, it would not make a whole lot of sense, since a large majority of the fanbase and alumni of Notre Dame are from the Midwest and Northeast. He states that the ACC will be dead in the future. If they are so weak, then why Notre Dame decide to become a football partner and Olympic-sports member with the ACC? He states that once the Maryland lawsuit is finalized and if Maryland is not required to pay the full $53 million, this will open the floodgates and all hell will break loose. Even if this were to occur, he forgot about the COCKADOODIE GRANT OF RIGHTS! This guarantees that even if another member were to leave the ACC, they would have to forfeit all their TV revenue to them, even if the new deal they inked was better and far more lucrative.
To sum it all up, everyone is allowed to dream but to make an assumption like the ACC being the weakest conference is just plain foolhardy. If anything, the Big 12 is the weakest link in the Power Five chain because it is a conference cobbled together and suited solely to satisfy the needs and ego of the University of Texas. Evidence has shown that twice, the Big 12 almost imploded completely, with the bulk of its membership casting a lustful eye at the PAC-12. Only thing putting the kibosh on the whole deal was the asinine Longhorn Network of Texas. West Virginia, like an unhappy married woman, will be making overtures to other conferences in the future including the ACC and the SEC. Also, if The Longhorn Network implodes, which I think it will because of the launching of the SEC Network, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State might terminate their grant of rights altogether and court the PAC-12 once more and this time, I think Larry Scott and the rest of the PAC-12 will welcome them with open arms. Just imagine the tailgating with games like Texas vs. Washington: Texas dry-rubbed beef from a hickory smoker and Chinook salmon. I think that the rest will have to scramble for new homes.
Here is my scenario for the rest: Kansas will join the Big Ten and Missouri will jump ship from the SEC and reunite with Kansas to reignite their rivalry. Both, after all, are large land grant institutions and AAU members.
This will be the chance for West Virginia to join the SEC and I think they would find a natural intrastate rivalry with Kentucky in all sports. I would not mind any of the SEC games being filmed in Morgantown, WV. Why not? WVU has a very similar football-first culture like the SEC has.
The rump of the membership, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, and Texas Christian, would be forced to join the AAC, which would be an absolute boon for that conference. This would turn the AAC into a plausible power in the coming years and this is how the possible line-up would look like:
As a football conference, I have to say, not too shabby. Since Navy is a football-only member, there may be a need to add an associate member to bring it to an even sixteen schools in basketball. One school that comes to mind would be St. Louis University. A basketball conference with Kansas State, Iowa State, Temple, Cincinnati, an improving SMU, NIT champion Baylor, a dangerous Tulsa, reigning champion in both men and women’s UConn and add St. Louis, I could see this conference getting conservatively, at least four bids in the NCAA tournament.
Not to be a too big of a hypocrite, I guess I am dreaming too but dreams can be so much fun.
As it stands, conference realignment has slowed down significantly. Nonetheless, we here at Conference Expansion will do our best to sniff out any news or rumors about potential realignment, large or small. This website will be including in the future analysis of schools and conferences.
I want to add that any articles that I post, you are allowed to dissent if you want to on whether if the information is correct, banter amongst fans of schools and conferences, or even debate the fine points of my arguments, but I implore you to focus your comments solely of college football or expansion. Just because I cite a source outside of the realm of college football like the Southern Poverty Law Center, this is not an open invitation to spew your venom or your political views.
It has become incumbent upon me to add this because of the recent comments made on a post about potential expansion candidates for the Sun Belt and one of the topics was about Liberty University and its ties to Jerry Falwell and the Liberty Counsel may be a deterrent for their inclusion in the SBC. Both Falwell and the Liberty Counsel have been on record making spurious and defamatory statements towards homosexuals. Whether you agree or disagree on various social issues including homosexual marriage, that is your opinion but this is not the forum for it. In closing, I will delete any comments made about politics or any other various issues that do not deal with college football or expansion from this point on. I do not want this blog to digress into a free-for-all. For all who visit my site, thanks for reading my blog.
Whether it is nobler, in the feeble minds of the Sun Belt or Big 12, to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous TV contracts or lack thereof? All levity aside, I will deconstruct the potential schools for the Sun Belt using a metric similar to what Frank the Tank did for the Big 12 candidates. Karl Benson recently stated that the Sun Belt schools do not want to expand because they need stability. True, considering that they have just lost Middle Tennessee State, Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, and North Texas. Nonetheless, how is adding one more school going to destabilize the Sun Belt? Stupidly, they sit at eleven, which is an awkward number. Just ask the Big Ten how they liked having eleven. That leaves you one short of a conference championship game and the potential of having three conference champions. Twelve is a logical number because then you can have two divisions of six and scheduling is easier for it. Even Benson wants a conference championship game. I will grade the schools with the following criteria:
1. It borders Appalachian State- Benson has made clear that he would prefer a school that shares a border with North Carolina to give App State a travel partner: 0-10 points.
2. Overall sports: this means that not only they are good in football but consistently good in all other sports like basketball and baseball.0-10 points.
3. Market value- the school has a sizable audience to sustain and augment the program.0-10 points.
4. Culture- The schools in the Sun Belt are universities in relatively small towns. 0-10 points.
5. Infrastructure- the school has the facilities and money to make the immediate move to FBC. 0-10 points.
Without any further ado, let us begin.
1. East Tennessee State- ETSU has recently accepted an invitation to rejoin the SoCon. The SoCon took a blow in membership with the exodus of Georgia Southern and App State. ETSU is an unknown quantity considering that just this year, they will be reinstating football. Nonetheless, ETSU has found a way to pay for its program by charging $125 more in tuition fees but currently, they lack the required facilities for its school to reach the 16,000 mark. One plus they have going for them is that they are only about a two hour drive from Boone, North Carolina but in East Tennessee, the market is spread very thin amongst schools like Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and MTSU. One other added bonus is that at least they will bring their other sports with them that have had success in more recent years.
TOTAL SCORE: 30
2. UT- Chattanooga: UT-Chattanooga has not had much luck in recent years, when it comes to their entire body of work athletically. Their programs have not cracked that glass ceiling that stands in the way of any kind of postseason berth. In weight of their sub-par athletics, they at least have a football stadium with a capacity of over 20,000 fans, more than enough needed for an upgrade in facilities. As a matter of fact, all the way up until 2009, Finley Stadium hosted the FCS National Championship game. The city of Chattanooga has a metropolitan area of over 500,000 people and is the only city in this nation that holds the unique distinction of having public internet, which by the way, is 50x faster than the rest of the nation on average. Being that they are in Appalachia, Chattanooga is only 2-3 away from App State.
TOTAL SCORE: 40
3. Tennessee State- TSU is a school that resides in Nashville, which immediately means that they will have to compete with Vanderbilt for viewership. Good luck with that. Also, TSU is an HBCU and culturally, it would not bode well for them being in not only a different conference but a different division. By definition, this means they will have to give up, saving one, all of their HBCU opponents like Jackson State. They play on LP Field, a stadium with an almost 70,000 capacity. Already spread thin with Vanderbilt and the Tennessee Titans, I do not think Tennessee State would have much luck bringing in any new viewers. Also, they do not bring in baseball with them and right now, the SBC is red hot in baseball. At least in Nashville, they would be only 4-5 hours from App State.
TOTAL SCORE: 24
4. Jackson State- JSU is another HBCU and I highly doubt that they would want to leave the SWAC, which has all of their rivals. Jackson is a city of about 570,000 in its metro area. Just like all other HBCUs, they face cash shortages and are steadily losing the arms race of college football money. An infusion from the SBC would be what the doctor ordered. Even if they are far from App State, JSU could link the majority of the east and west division schools together. JSU has also enjoyed much success in its athletics overall in recent years, but could they compete if they were given the bump? Also, being a native Mississippian, I do not know if anyone would care enough outside of Jackson, MS to give support to the Tigers. Maybe Jackson is enough to support JSU and at least the stadium, Mississippi Veterans Memorial, can seat 62,000. Also, it could foster more rivalries in-state against Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Southern Miss.
TOTAL SCORE: 35
5. Lamar- a school that resides in Beaumont, TX, a town that barely cracks the 100,000 population mark. They have just recently reinstated football and have not fared too well so far. Nonetheless, baseball and men’s basketball have maintained success in recent years. They are far away from Boone, NC but would serve as a football rival with Texas State and would serve also to compete in all other sports with UT-Arlington.
TOTAL SCORE: 34
6. Missouri State- MSU has been mentioned in the blogosphere as a potential candidate. As it stands, they have not been that relevant in athletics and also, they would end up being another geographic outlier. Their market is not that large and would compete with viewership with Mizzou. No contest there.
TOTAL SCORE: 22
7. Eastern Kentucky- The Colonels have a lot going for them. They have played consistently well in the Ohio Valley, winning on a regular basis the football, baseball, and basketball championships. The football stadium holds 22,000 fans, more than enough for FBS level. EKU would only be about 5-6 hours away from App State. They are a small market but an excellent fan base. Culturally, they fit the small town aesthetic that the Sun Belt tends to exude. A decent add all-around.
TOTAL SCORE: 45
8. Coastal Carolina- The Chanticleers are consistent winners in their conference, the Big South, and they also are regular attendees in all NCAA tournaments, whether it is football, baseball, or men’s basketball. Based in Conway, South Carolina, they are only about 4-5 hours away from neighboring North Carolina. Also, the state of SC has grown so much that it has gained a representative in congress from the 2010 census. One minus that hurts CCU is that they lack the facilities to move up immediately and would seriously need to upgrade to meet FBS standards.
TOTAL SCORE: 40
9. James Madison- Time and time again, James Madison has been the ideal darling candidate for the SBC. As a matter of fact, they are like the hot chick that the Sun Belt has been courting but in the end, has become an unrequited love. JMU won a national title in 2004 in football and consistently make it to NCAA tournaments in all their other sports. JMU resides in the state or more technically, the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia has been a state that has seen its population swell, due to the influx of Yankees moving there. The Dukes have the facilities, including a football stadium that can seat almost 25,000 people, to move up to FBS immediately. Nonetheless, like the mythical unicorn, they have ran away from any of the SBCs offers. They are not interested in moving up, if that includes the Sun Belt. JMU is the ultimate prize for the SBC but so unattainable. JMU will not move up unless they have no other choice or maybe, are waiting for a more “worthy” conference to come knocking on their door.
TOTAL POINTS: 45
10. Liberty- Like JMU, they are in the very fertile state of Virginia. Liberty, due to its online college, has received a large cash infusion. Liberty is not bound by the financial constraints of depending on state funds, since LU is a private school. Liberty’s programs are driven to succeed and have done so in all sports including football, basketball, and baseball in these past few years. Liberty has the facilities including an over 25,000 seat capacity football stadium. They have hired a proven winner, Turner Gill, who managed to turn Buffalo into the MAC champion. Liberty has aspirations to become the “Notre Dame for Protestants.” As a matter of fact, they are the largest Baptist institute in the world. Liberty has plans to expand to the stadium to 70,000 seats. Another benefit is that they would be only about four hours away from App State. They have met all the metrics that have been laid out but there is an intangible that may be stopping their inclusion: controversy. Liberty University is joined at the hip with its legal arm, the Liberty Counsel, which is based in Clearwater, FL and the chair is Matthew Staver. The Liberty Counsel has been identified as an active anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, for its crusade against homosexuals having equal rights. Jerry Falwell, the founder of Liberty University, was once quoted saying that the purple Teletubby from the children show Teletubbies “ promotes homosexuality” and that 9/11 was caused by the “feminists, the ACLU, pagans, abortionists, and homosexuals.” Nonetheless, there are plenty of people at Liberty that are good and do not agree with these extreme points of view. There is one intangible that elevates them, even above JMU: they want to make the jump to FBS level and they want to be a member of the Sun Belt Conference. They are chomping at the bit for an invitation.
TOTAL POINTS: 50
There are a few others that I did not mention like Jacksonville State and the reason for that is because they would saturate an already saturated Sun Belt market: the state of Alabama and North Dakota State, due to the fact that they would be like Missouri State, a geographic outlier. UMass has been mentioned in news reports but they would only bring football with them and would be ready to kick the SBC to the curb the first chance they get. This has been a long article but hopefully, it has been informative and I thank you for reading it.
This ESPN article is about the Big 12 redesigning its logo. This is not interesting but it does make mention that even though in the yearly meeting that the Big 12 had, they had not considered expansion but they have not ruled it out completely. This may mean nothing but to me, it is a bit revealing due to the fact that if they have not ruled it out completely, they have and they still are considering expansion. Only thing that is required now is maybe an urgency in realizing that having ten schools is a dumb idea in the new era of FBS football, considering that championship games will be like playoff qualifiers and that in the end, maybe they will not get the votes needed for more conference autonomy.