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.
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.
The Longhorn Network has been a boon for Texas somewhat, but a source of division for others. TLN is a force that has “united” the Big 12 but also has driven a wedge with everyone else. Currently, TLN has partnerships with Cox Communications, Dish Network, and other carriers. So far, it has produced new wealth for Texas but does it serve only Texas? I will examine the pros and cons of TLN and try to determine whether it is a boon or a bust all around.
First off, TLN was launched in 2011 and it included two games that Texas could broadcast themselves. Initially, Texas wanted to bring Texas A&M on board but A&M refused. After launching TLN, Texas wanted to the right to broadcast some high school games of perspective recruits. A&M thought that this would give an undue advantage to Texas and they needed an edge over Texas: the SEC. The SEC is the best football conference bar none and selling recruit the fact that they will play Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Georgia, Florida, and all others is a great sell compared to playing Kansas. Texas A&M bolted, leaving Texas without their most hated rival.
In that same year, once again, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State courted the PAC-12. The only thing that was a deal breaker with the PAC-12 was The Longhorn Network. The PAC-12 refuses to have any member with their own revenue stream if they are unwilling to spread the wealth. In a way, the Big 12 was given a reprieve because of TLN. Nonetheless, a conference that has been held together by this is on a more shaky foundation than the levees in New Orleans were before Hurricane Katrina.
Currently, ESPN carries The Longhorn Network. How long they piggyback Texas’ third-tier rights is yet to be determined. The Big 12 is the only conference that allows its members to have their own third-tier program but will never get their own network because of schools like Texas broadcasting games outside the loop of prospective network carriers. This is very self-serving and thickheaded.
Starting this August, the SEC Network will be launched and will be most likely the most lucrative deal any conference will have. ESPN is going to take care of the first, second, and third tier broadcasting rights for the SEC. The SEC is fourteen schools in eleven states while Texas will will be one state and only two of their games will be broadcasted. According to one artice from Foxsports, even members like Vanderbilt will make more or comparable the amount Texas makes, third-tier included.
Texas’ self-interest has made the Big-12 a conference that is without much clout and one that will lose the arms race in the long run. The initial buzz of TLN raised a lot of eye brows but long-term, Texas will get left in the dust as they sit as the kings of air in conference full of yes men and spineless, inept leaders. If and when TLN is dropped, can Texas stand by as schools like A&M consistently beat them in recruiting battles and being consistently bad against conference foes like Oklahoma and Baylor? Even A&M realized that they stand to make more money if they pool their resources together with the other members in the SEC. While subscribers to the SEC Network will get an overdose of football, TLN viewers will be relegated watching reruns of Texas v. Rice or some other mid-level school.
When ESPN drops The Longhorn Network, that will be the straw that broke the Big 12 camel’s back. Sure, ESPN might have to buy off TLN remaining contract but nonetheless, Texas will no longer be able to compete at all with the SEC’s revenue and programming. Texas cannot afford to continually lose at all fronts. Texas will then come together with other conference mates and try to snake out of their own grant of rights. Since their is no Big 12 network, it would be easier just to dissolve the conference altogether with a single vote. Texas will decide to either join a conference like the PAC-12 or go it alone, which being an independent would be another colossally stupid idea. The revenue they would get with the PAC-12 along with Oklahoma, OSU, and TTU would be monstrous.
In the end, Texas is using the same model that Notre Dame used with NBC but this is a mistake considering that we live in the age of cable, satellite, and now the internet being used to watch games. The Big Ten and SEC have changed the paradigm that conference that stand together will greatly benefit as a whole rather than a bunch of programs being miserly and self-interested. TLN has been a cash cow for Texas but when comes down to it, it is an albatross that will pull the Longhorns under the water and drown them, along with the rest of the Big 12.
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.
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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.