UPDATE: The ACC has invited Louisville. Will this be enough to deter the wandering eyes of Florida State and Clemson? Maybe. How does this affect the Big XII? As you'll read below, the Big XII has only TWO incentives to expand: #1 If Notre Dame wants to come. #2 If ESPN and Fox throw enough money at them to add two football members in order to have conference title game. FSU and Clemson aren't taking that deal. BYU and Bosie State probably would. Uconn and Cincinnati might also be willing to take such a deal. That is the only way BYU ends up in the Big XII. Enjoy.
As the news broke on the University of Maryland moving to the Big 10 conference (followed closely by it's conference partner Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.... yes that's the real name) I couldn't help but go through myriad of emotions at the thought of CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT returning. Rather then use black on white, let's GIF this:
Now that we have moved passed that. Let's see what the ramifications might be going forward.
Disclaimer: I talked to Tom Holmoe once on the 3rd floor of WILK about his daughter's statistics class. I am a BYU telephone operator (at least until tonight, I'm writing this during my last shift) so I sometimes see when the President's office calls the Athletics department. I'm just trying to read a situation for what it is and as always I wonder how it will affect BYU.
Lets see where conference alignment currently stand as of 6:25pm MST (assuming all planned moves over the next 3 years actually happen):
GANG OF FIVE
Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin
Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, TCU, Texas Tech, West Virginia
Arizona, Arizona State, California, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State
Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
*Not including Notre Dame here because they will still operate as a football independent and as much as I love college hoop (more so than CFB) football drives the expansion/realignment bus
THE CHILDREN'S TABLE
BIG EAST (Football only)
Boise State, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Navy, San Diego State, South Florida, SMU (I seriously don't know if that is right. ugh.)
Air Force, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, UNLV, New Mexico, San Jose State, Utah State, Wyoming
I'm not going to do the other conferences because I don't think they will factor into any future meaningful expansion.
First, why did the B1G choose to expand now and why did they pick Maryland and Rutgers?
The key difference for the Big 10 conference versus other conferences is they own and run their own television network (at least that is my understanding). They are looking to sell subscriptions to the various cable television providers across the country. That is why the Big 10 chose Maryland and Rutgers. Maryland is situated in College Park, about halfway between Washington DC and Baltimore. This part of the country is home to millions of people and some of the highest annual salaries. From a strictly business standpoint, that makes sense. Rutgers is located in New Brunswick, NJ (less than an hour outside of lower Manhattan in NYC). The greater New York City region is home roughly 7% of the entire population of the United State of America. It's easy to see why the Big 10 would want a foothold in that region as well (see: TV sets). Another often overlooked part of this TV set acquisition, the alumni bases of many B1G schools are likely well represented in these two major metro hubs.
Second, what is the ACC going to do in response to Maryland leaving?
The leading candidates in the clubhouse are Connecticut and Louisville. If the ACC cared at all about on the field performance, they would invite Louisville. While the Cardinals are not world-beaters by any stretch of the imagination, Charlie Strong has them going in the right direction this year and they certainly bring more to the field than UCONN. By all account (I have never been to either campus myself) Louisville's facilities are top notch. Also, the language of the ACC is very much bi-lingual. Hoops actually matters there and Louisville boasts a perennial top 10 program. I have no idea what kind of market share either of those carry. I know UK carries the majority of the state but I would think that Louisville would have a pretty sizable fan base. Connecticut has a population of 3.5 million, how much of that UCONN carries, who knows? I could see this one going either way. We will assume the ACC is "smart" and takes Louisville.
Will the Big XII ever go to ten?
I know this is the question most Cougar fans are asking (because it has the most effect on BYU). I know that's the question that fuels Brian's every movement (or tweet). What incentive does the Big XII have to expand. They have a ten team league that is currently locked into a 13 year multi-million dollar TV deal with ESPN & FOX. If they add any team, those networks have to see enough of a reason to offer more money. Outside of Notre Dame (and that ain't happenin') there is no one school that adds enough value, or makes the pie even bigger, to warrant more slices. The one incentive that they have to add more teams would be to create a conference championship game. Still, that coupled with new team (outside of Notre Dame) doesn't increase the pie enough. Here is where BYU might be able to sneak into the conversation. If a deserving Big XII team (almost K State this year) gets left out of the BCS title game or the not-Final Four (what are they calling that thing again?) then they may be persuaded; If the TV partners thrw enough money at them, they might be persuaded. However, I don't see the Big XII adding "full" members (again unless Notre Dame is one of them). They might be open to "football affiliate" members, and I'm guessing that BYU would be in an excellent position for that sort of deal. CFB doesn't play on Sunday (no issue there). Big XII doesn't have it's own network, in fact it allows its members to have their own networks see: Texas and soon Oklahoma (no issue there). These two affiliate members would have to take lower conference payouts (no issue there). Now I don't know what other pretenses or requisites the Big XII would put on any potential affiliate school, but I see four potential schools that might be willing to accept such an agreement.
#1: Louisville - Let's assume the ACC was actualy not "smart" but "dumb" and took UCONN (a very real possibility). That would leave Louisville in an even less eastern Big East conference. I would guess that the Cardinals (or as Greg Swaim likes to call them #CardNation) would jump at that opportunity and find a home for their other sports in the Atlantic 10 or a potential Big East spinoff (more like Frasier to Cheers than Joey to Friends).
#2: Cincinnati - They basically have the same scenario as Louisville but with a slightly less attractive resume. If the Big XII wants to go all in on moving east, they would be the Hooch to Lousville's Turner.... or is it the other way around?
#3: Boise State - Boise has been chasing football acceptance for a long time. The Mountain West conference was foolish to sit on inviting the Broncos for as long as they did. I don't remember when talk of Boise joining the MWC first started but a conference that could have had Boise State, BYU, TCU, and Utah at the top would have given the Pac 10, Big East & ACC a run for their money for that Theodore Roosevelt spot on the Mount Rushmore of late 200's NCAA Football Conferences (SEC, B1G & Big XII have the George Washington, Thomas Jefferson & Abraham Lincoln spots solidly locked up). But I guess that was for naught. Anyways, Boise jumped at a delayed MWC invite and now has dragged the WAH-ztecs with them east to get left holding the Big East bag. They already have their Olympic sports in the Big West so moving football to the Big XII would just be a matter of a buyout (again) if the Big East even exists any more.
#4: BYU - The Cougars have their Olympic sports in the WCC. Dave Rose, by all accounts, is pleased with the league, and despite what certain people who comment on this site from time-to-time say, the WCC is generally a good fit for BYU. Is it great? No. But the Cougars ride the top of the conference with Gonzaga and St. Mary's. There is hope that Max Good can keep the LMU Lions trending upward to add another team to the upper echelon of the conference. Some say that BYU wouldn't leave Utah State behind, but there is zero proof of that actually being the case since BYU and Utah State have never (to my limited knowledge) even been in the same conference to begin with. Would BYU jump at this kind of offer? I think so.
So in this scenario, the Big XII can choose a eastern package (Louisville & Cincinnati), a western package (BYU & Boise State) or a combination of the two (the most talked about is BYU & Louisville). I have no read which way they would go but what the ACC does would definitely affect which way they go. With West Virginia out on an island it make sense to go east.
When will the Big East hoops school break off?
This is kind of a back burner issue when it comes to football realignment but as a hoops junkie, it is a no brainer to me. As more and more Big East football schools move to the ACC, the TRADITION (think of Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof) of Big East hoops is on its way to the grave. The current lot of hoops schools is DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. Johns, Seton Hall, and Villanova. Perhaps they can lure Temple to come with them but that is not a bad hoops league at all right there. It allows those schools to preserve their tradition and not have to merge it with the likes of SMU and Memphis..... actually, that last might be a good fit. Oh well.
What do I think will eventually happen? I have no idea. Any one who claims to know is blowing smoke and is probably just looking for more followers to block on Twitter (I'm looking straight at you Swaim).
Today all knowing and very insightful Brett McMurphy reported that Boise State, San Diego State and BYU had been in talks with the Mountain West conference about returning. My first reaction was THIS....... followed by THIS. Nothing to see with that one folks. That ship has sailed.