Conference expansion remains a hot topic for college football fans after the near miss that was the Pac-16. The actual realignment was minor compared to the paradigm shifting juggernaut that Pac-16 would have been. Nebraska joined the B1G, Utah and Colorado went to the Pac-12, TCU joined the BigEast (beginning in 2012), most of the halfway decent teams in the WAC are leaving for the MWC, and BYU promptly left the MWC to go independent (to prove they are just as special as Utah). The era of the super conference was delayed by the Big XII members, who didn’t receive a Pac-16 invite, falling to their knees and begging Texas to not leave them. Just when it looked like this round of expansion was over rumors circled the interwebs about rising discontent within the Big XII. Texas A&M hasn’t gotten invited to the SEC, yet. The Big XII will collapse as long as the conference is currently structured with Texas lording over the conference.
There is a lot of speculation on how expansion will shake out. I thought that major changes wouldn’t happen for at least 2-3 more seasons, with it more likely to happen in 5-6 years. If the Big XII continues to crumble then the dominoes will begin to fall sooner rather than later. The Pac-12, SEC, and B1G are the power players; none of their teams are going to leave for another conference.
The Big XII (or what’s left of it) is on shaky ground and fit for a collapse. Texas A&M is ready to leave right now over their frustration with Texas and the LHN (Longhorn Network). Even if Oklahoma gets a TV deal like the LHN, the Big XII could see some members poached. The ACC may get some programs picked off, but will likely survive. While anyone in the BigEast could probably be had.
I have decided to make a wish list of the teams conferences would most like to add in expansion. This is not based on the likelihood that a team will end up in a conference. Texas would also be desired by the Pac-12, SEC, and B1G, but the LHN makes these moves a no go. The Pac-12, SEC, and B1G don’t have to and won’t allow someone to join and receive special treatment. I only included teams that would change conferences, for example Michigan isn’t going anywhere. I also avoid Twilight Zone situations like the Pac-12 adding Syracuse or the BigEast trying to get Oklahoma. I may want a Lamborghini for my birthday, but my parents are going to laugh at me if I ask (disclaimer: There are a couple long shots). So here are the conference wish lists.
The Pac-12 wants universities that expand the footprint of the conference and increase the exposure of the conference. Academics are important, but if the deal is good enough then a university could slip by with the goal of raising the profile academic profile of new member once they have joined. Having a complete athlete department is a must; the Pac is more than just a football conference. The Pac-12 can’t get too picky when it comes to geography because there aren’t a lot of options in the west.
Pros – Tradition, national exposure, academics, expanded footprint and TV market, $$$$$$$
Cons – Geography, Oklahoma St. might be a tagalong
2. Texas A&M
Pros – A big deal in Texas, national exposure, expanded footprint and TV market, $$$$
Cons – Geography, they are making googly eyes with the SEC
Likelihood – The door seemed to be slamming shut, but remains cracked while the SEC examines the situation. If the SEC drags their feet look for Larry Scott to take over.
3. Oklahoma St.
Pros – Rising National profile, T. Boone Pickens (is to the Pokes as Phil Knight is to the Ducks. For anyone studying for the SAT, another analogy would be Pickens is to oil as Knight is to shoes. Thanks CollegeBoard.)
Cons –Stillwater, redundant market as OU, aren’t an academic home run
Pros – Academics, athletics dept., the Kansas City and St. Louis markets would be nice additions
Cons – Geography
5. Texas Tech
Pros – In Texas
Cons – Academics, questionable ability to bring Texas’ TV market (If Tech played a game and it wasn’t in the same conference as Texas would it make a sound?)
Pros – In Texas, Houston TV market, academics, they won’t turn down the chance to get to an AQ conference
Cons – Might not raise the profile of the conference
Pros – Basketball program, academics
Cons –State population about 2.9 million (33rd overall), geography, possibly comes as a package with Kansas State
8. Kansas St.
Pros – It could be worse, solid basketball program
Cons – Population of Kansas
Pros – Las Vegas (Americans love gambling), geography
Cons – Academics, may be a cellar dweller in the PAC
Teams that have been suggested by fans and media, but aren’t getting an invite to the Pac:
1. Boise St. – Weak academics; your physics departments joint venture with the biology department to power a light bulb with a potato does not impress the profs in the Pac. Weak overall athletics department. The TV market of Idaho leaves something to be desired.
2. Baylor – Religious and can’t carry the Texas market.
3. Fresno St. and San Diego St. – The Pac already possesses the TV market in their area
4. BYU and TCU – Religious affiliation.
5. Colorado St. – Colorado already has the Denver TV market covered.
6. Hawaii – I don’t know if anyone has suggested it, but I wanted to cover my bases. It would be pretty sweet destination in the middle of November and just make it a long weekend vacation. Sure there are some down sides to flying 6 hours across the Pacific isn’t fun, but then you’re in Hawaii. As opposed to flying 4-7 hours east to arrive in Stillwater, Norman, or College Station. My vacation plans aren’t going to get the Warriors an invitation and neither are yours.
7. New Mexico and New Mexico St. – They are all world bad and live in the Bottom 5.
8. San Jose St. – See NM and NMST
9. Wyoming – State population: about 550,000
10. Utah St., Idaho, and Idaho St. – Zero chance. Why would anyone suggest these? I don’t even care if Utah St. could be a geographic matched with Utah.
The B1G is often criticized for being archaic, but look at what happens when the B1G tries to be cool; we get logos that look like they are from the 80’s. The logo design is nothing compared to the division names: Leaders and Legends. No one likes the division names; not even your grandpa. Fortunately for the B1G the marketing team is not in charge of expansion. The B1G cares about history like no other conference and it plays a considerable role when inviting new members. Academics are as important as football success. They are the country club of conferences; old fashioned, elitist, established, rich, and successful.
1. Notre Dame
Pros – $$$$$$, national exposure, prestige, geography, Catholics all over the country, nothing says B1G football like things that happened 50 years ago
Cons – You’ll have to hear media types blabbering about ND even more than usual in B1G country
Pros – Expands footprint (Kansas City and St. Louis), academics
Cons – Not a football power
Pros – Expands the footprint, academics, elite BBall program
Cons – Lacks recent success on the field
Pros – Expands the footprint into large metropolitan area, academics
Cons – Lacks recent success on the field
Pros – As close as college football gets to NYC, academics
Cons – It’s in New Jersey, lacks history and success in cfb
Pros – Academics, strong football history
Cons – Penn St already delivers the much Pennsylvania market
7. West Virginia
Pros – Strong football history as well as recent success, academics
Cons – State population about 1.9 million (37th overall)
Pros – Academics
Cons – Weak football program, state population about 2.9 million
The SEC is all about football. Oh and money. Whatever move they make will be based on helping them win national championships and put money in their pockets. Conference expansion is about money and power, which is the same thing the SEC is about. Academics are not important; 100,000 seat stadiums packed with fans are important. The SEC also wants a cultural fit, aka football crazed and southern.
1. Texas A&M
Pros – Expansion into Texas
Cons – Have to find a 14th team
Pros – Football history and success
Cons – Linked to OK St
Pros – St. Louis and Kansas City markets
Cons – The SEC is already at its quota for tiger mascots, not known as a football power
4. Virginia Tech
Pros – Expands footprint to the 12th most populous state, success on the field
Cons – What will they be when Frank Beamer is gone?
5. Florida St.
Pros – In the South, history of success
Cons – Florida doesn’t want another team in the SEC from the state
Pros – Solid football tradition
Cons – South Carolina won’t be happy to have another team from in state joining the SEC, constantly under achieve, the SEC already has 2 tigers
Pros – See FSU
Cons – See FSU
8. West Virginia
Pros – Tradition, recent success, expands the footprint
Cons – They aren’t technically in the south
9. Georgia Tech
Pros – Solid football program
Cons – Georgia will not be happy
10. North Carolina
Pros – The 10th most populous state
Cons – Separating UNC and Duke for CBB would cause rioting across the nation, not a football school
The ACC is a basketball conference that could lose some of its best football schools to the SEC and B1G. Right now it looks like they are 4th in pecking order behind the B1G, SEC, and Pac-12. They raided the BigEast in their most recent expansion and will likely do so once again to survive. Which will further their standing as a bball conference. The problem for the ACC is that they don’t currently have a giant TV contract and might not have the product on the field to command one in the future. They also, have to compete for regional viewers with the SEC and BigEast.
Pros – Strong BBall, expanded footprint, solid football history, academics
Cons – Isn’t going to raise the football profile of the conference
Pros – Strong BBall program, expanded footprint, academics
Cons – Weak football program
Pros – Once again BBall school, expanded footprint, academics
Cons – Weak football program, Geography
Pros – Solid in FB and BB, expanded footprint (St. Louis and Kansas City), academics
Cons – Geography (Atlantic? No. Coastal? Not even close.)
Pros – Strong FB tradition, good BBall program, the Pennsylvania market, the Backyard Brawl (if you package them with WVU)
Cons – Fairly mediocre in FB of late
6. West Virginia
Pros – Strong FB, solid BB, nationally relevant rivalry with Pitt
Cons – The West Virginia market doesn’t impress
Pros – Strong BB, the Ohio market
Cons – A middling FB school (which the ACC has plenty of)
Pros – Strong BB, room to improve as a FB school
Cons – Who’s tuning in the watch Louisville FB nationally?
9. South Florida
Pros – Gives access to Florida (if Miami and FSU are gone)
Cons – Weak BB program, if Miami and/or FSU are still around they would disapprove
Pros – Close to the NYC market
Cons – It’s in New Jersey
The BigEast will likely lose some schools if there is large scale conference expansion. They will likely be last in the expansion lunch line. I’m guessing bullies (SEC, ACC, B1G) will have already stolen their Lunchables (West Virginia, Syracuse, Pitt, Connecticut). They will just be hoping the big boys are full and left them some tots and chocolate milk. Maybe there will even be some fudge sickles (Kansas and Missouri).
1. Notre Dame (Football)
Pros – $$$$$$, national exposure, prestige, they already compete here in other sports, geography, Catholics all over the country
Cons – There are none (Getting ND would be like chili and cinnamon roll day)
Likelihood – This is a long shot to say the least, but could happen if ND feels it needs to join a conference and there are no other offers.
Pros – Basketball (BigEast is The BBall conference and this helps them keep the title)
Cons – Another BBall school with a football team (standard operating procedure), geography
Pros – see Kansas
Cons – See Kansas
4. Central Florida
Pros – In Florida, solid football program even without AQ status, could be added as a football only member
Cons – Can they really be relevant in the backyard of Florida, FSU, and Miami?,
5. Villanova (Football)
Pros – Already compete in other sports, successful FCS (Div II) program
Cons – Can an FCS (Div II) team help bolster the football reputation of a FBS (Div I) BCS AQ conference?, their stadium is tiny with a capacity of 12,500 (FBS required minimum is 15,000) compared to the smallest stadium in the BigEast at 35,000 (Cincinnati)
6. Kansas St.
Pros – Historically solid FB program
Cons – Geography, the Kansas TV market
7. East Carolina
Pros – Fairly successful in non-AQ team
Cons – They don’t move the dial
Pros – Solid BB team, geography
Cons – The casual cfb fan might not even know that they have a FB team
Pros – Access to the state of Texas, solid football program
Cons – Geography
Texas wants to have both the benefits of a conference and those of being an independent. A conference offers security when a team has some down seasons. Independence means you don’t have to share. As the Big XII is currently structured Texas gets all the security of a conference, but doesn’t have to share any of their ESPN money. Every sport besides football requires a conference, so even if Texas went it alone they would need to find a conference for the rest of their sports. The Big XII also holds an automatic qualifying spot in the BCS, which Texas would no longer have access to if they left. If schools start defecting from the Big XII it may be over. Another option could be add teams to fill the spaces of the departing teams. Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma St., and even Texas Tech could leave. Iowa St. and Baylor are not getting invites to a better situation. As long as Texas stays the conference can remain on life support. The new bastardized Big XII would allow Texas wield even more power over the conference.
3. Boise St.
10. Fresno St.
11. La Tech
The expansion end game is the super conference. The landscape is only beginning to shift. What are your thoughts?