So I just finish writing a full breakdown of the nonsense that occurred late Tuesday, my internet connection crashes, and I lose the whole bit. I’m not a happy camper, folks.
Suffice to say, the Pac-12 has voted to stand pat and not expand:
“In light of the widespread speculation about potential scenarios for Conference re-alignment, the Pac-12 Presidents and Chancellors have affirmed their decision to remain a 12-team conference. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said, “after careful review we have determined that it is in the best interests of our member institutions, student-athletes and fans to remain a 12-team conference. While we have great respect for all of the institutions that have contacted us, and certain expansion proposals were financially attractive, we have a strong conference structure and culture of equality that we are committed to preserve. With new landmark TV agreements and plans to launch our innovative television networks, we are going to focus solely on these great assets, our strong heritage and the bright future in front of us.”
Now, I’m not going to rewrite the lengthy piece I put together and lost. Nor am I going to publish a long piece on Missouri that was written by my partner here at MrSEC — a Missouri native — because that take appears to be rather irrelevant for now. Instead, I’m going to deliver you some headlines. And I’m going to come across as very bitter while doing so. Why? Because this realignment stuff is a pain in the rear. And if conference commissioners have no clue what they’re doing, no one who’s covering this ridiculous mess can be expected to accurately project what the hell is going to happen next, either.
If you’ve ever spent hours, days and weeks on something only to realize, “Hey, that was a real waste of time,” then you know how I feel.
Before the headlines, here are a few questions we’re left with at this point:
1. Will the Big 12 stick together as a 9-team league, a 10-team league or a 12-team league? If it expands, who will it lure in? (And will Kenneth Starr sue himself for breaking up someone else’s league?)
2. Will the Big East survive? Will UConn and Rutgers leave for the ACC? Who will the Big East chase to replace Pittsburgh and Syracuse who have already announced that they’re leaving?
3. With the Big 12 looking like a survivor — which should take Missouri off the table — and no one in the ACC interested in moving to the SEC — will Mike Slive’s league be stuck on unlucky, unwieldy #13 for some time to come? (What a pathetic state of affairs if that’s the case.) Or will the SEC now decide that West Virginia looks a little better when it comes to evening up its divisions?
4. Might the SEC now make a play for Texas A&M and Oklahoma as it did last summer? Or Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Missouri? (With the SEC’s anti-raiding policy, probably not.)
5. If the SEC adds Texas A&M by its lonesome, just how much more money does the league stand to make from increased television revenue? And will the SEC look for a way to create its own network?
6. Will Baylor sue the SEC even if the Big 12 survives? (I’ll bet yes, just because I don’t want to cover such madness. But my karma’s bad enough that that’s surely going to come to pass.)
And now, some bitter headlines:
1. The Pac-12 is sticking with 12 schools. “Thanks, but no thanks, Oklahoma and Texas.”
2. Oklahoma says the Pac-12′s vote comes as no surprise. Yeah, yeah. You wanted in and they didn’t want you. Enjoy that kick in the teeth. Meanwhile, the SEC would have liked to have had you but you weren’t interested. And now — since the Big 12 appears to be stabilizing — the SEC likely won’t chase you again (And please, Sooner fans, spares us the “we didn’t officially apply for membership” bunk. Larry Scott told you to talk to the hand.)
3. Missouri’s chancellor is working extra hard to save the Big 12. And that makes the SEC’s sorta/kinda invitation to Mizzou look even less valuable. ”No, no, we’d rather stay in this nest of vipers than jump in with you, folks.”
4. The remaining Big East schools have pledged to stay together. And those pledges are worth roughly the price of a can of Pledge.
5. The Big East will now be “aggressive” in expanding and Navy looks to be the first school/academy onboard. Yet the ACC can and will raid the Big East whenever it likes. On the East Coast, the ACC is clearly the big dog.
6. Hey, did you know that realignment could end some rivalries? Newsflash: If Oklahoma-Nebraska can end, any rivalry can end. And in the SEC we’ve seen that heated, old rivalries — Auburn-Tennessee — can be replaced by heated, new rivalries — Florida-Tennessee. I don’t like expansion, either, but let’s not cry over rivalries. Everyone moves right along with new rivals.
7. Syracuse hoops coach Jim Boeheim complains that realignment is all about football and money. I keep hearing this “money” talk. Quick… name for me a school, a business or any other entity that works to make less money each year. Until someone does, I’m going to be a realist. Of course realignment’s is about making more money. What isn’t?
8. This writer, however, says Texas A&M, Pitt and Syracuse aren’t really moving for more money. What Mike DeCourcy fails to grasp is that by chasing long-term conference stability — which is the goal of those schools — they are likely to make more money in the long haul.
9. Oklahoma’s demands for Big 12 reform lost some heft when the Pac-12 nixed the Sooners… and limited their options. Thanks to the threats of Baylor’s Starr and the nice guy attitude of the SEC, the Sooners can’t even feign interest in tagging along with A&M. OU has no leverage.
10. Missouri had an “informal” offer from the SEC. It was a variation of the old, “If you’re not married at 40 and I’m not married at 40″ deal and it hinged upon the life/death of the Big 12.
11. As we wrote yesterday afternoon, if the Big 12 had failed and Missouri had joined the SEC, Auburn would have moved to the East Division. And let’s face it, though some of those Big 12 schools now have nowhere else to go, they’re so dysfunctional as a group that the Big 12 can’t really be classified as “saved” just yet. So Auburn, don’t unpack your bags.
12. The Big 12 is literally “the thing that wouldn’t die.“ No need for a snarky comment. The headline is snarky enough.
One last thought –
If the ACC winds up being the only league to move to 14 teams, won’t the SEC regret adding Texas A&M this summer? Let’s face it, regardless of what Slive will say, the league wouldn’t have moved to 13 if it didn’t think it could reach 14 rather quickly. Too many SEC officials made too many, “Yeah, we’ll have to get to 14″ statements for that not to have been the goal. But the fish weren’t biting. That or the SEC’s bait wasn’t as irresistible as Slive believed.
But A&M and the SEC have flirted for two-and-a-half decades. A&M and the SEC are a fit. Slive and the league’s presidents could have easily said, “not right now” and waited for major realignment shuffles in the future. Eventually, A&M would have come in. Instead, the SEC grabbed the Aggies now and — for some reason — chose not to fight to bring in another school with them… instead hoping the league’s office door would be knocked down by applicants.
As a result — as of this moment — it looks like the SEC will have to come up with some sort of divisional rotation and hybrid scheduling system to accomodate a 13-school league.
But as we’ve learned again and again and again throughout this process… things can change.