One thing not to forget in all of this process - Academics. We love to toss around match ups and TV markets and contracts and dream. However there is a reason why the two most unstable major conferences this past go around were the Big East and the B12, the only major conferences without a academic alignment within conference memberships. It is a lot easier to change sports schedules than it is to change academic partnerships and agreements. It is estimated that ACC membership is valued at around $200 million in academic research and funding - per school. One of the best things that Slive did with the SEC was about 10 years ago start the process of academic progress of the league schools. I have said all along that Texas A&M's desire to join the SEC last year was all about academic funding and research - not athletic. The supposed call from TAMU to Slive came just after the state finalized the budget for the next two years. Texas passed a constitutional amendment a couple of years ago requiring the development of more tier one research universities in the state. Currently there are three, UT Austin, TAMU - CS and Rice. Slated to joined that club and were required to receive a larger share of state research funding were UH, UNT, UT-Dallas, UTSA, TxTech. Since there was no increase in taxes to fund the new schools, the current pie was split more ways. Now TAMU found itself competing with more instate schools for funding, and the top students. The school needed a different course. In the B12, it was always going to be over shadowed by TX-A. Plus the B12, at that time, had no academic partnership. Texas does not want or need a conference academic network because the UTx system out researches the rest of the B12 by itself. TAMU had to have something different to sell to researchers, funders, and potential students. The school also needed to promote itself to population growth states, which the SEC states are all growing in population. Where only Texas and OK are growth states in the B12. Academics and population growth was what lead ND to join the ACC and not the B10 or the B12. The B12 now is forming a academic partnership - less Texas. It was one of the demands of OU and OKst. to stop shopping for a new home. So I find it hard to see going less than 5 major conferences. Could there be scheduling and partnership agreements between the conferences. Yes. But remember conference affiliation is determined by the men and women with the bow ties - not the athletic departments. Until the media deals and such start bringing in vastly more money than the academic partnerships, not expect moves to be based upon athletics alone unless there is not an academic network in the old conference.
@HoustonVol Your absolutely right about the academics. At some point in the future, due to travel costs and local interests, Universities will need to consider having academic conferences and having those independent of athletic conferences. That way they will be able to enjoy the best of both. Many Division 1 (FBS) schools already have athletic departments that are totally independent in operations from the University's normal academic operations. If television rewards compelling match-ups and grants are given for research capabilities and partnerships across universities for the purposes of that research, then these two aspects of every school need to become separate. Such an arrangement could only strengthen the ACC and Big 10.
It needs to be noted that the athletic accomplishments of the SEC have grown not only out of our cultural heritage, but also out of the diversity of schools within our region. The SEC and Big 10 have been strong historically because of a solid cultural fit among their members. When the culture of the Big 10 intentionally became exclusionary based upon academics their growth potential became limited. The ACC has reached out to schools on the fringe of their academic acceptability to keep sports alive and it is not working for them. The SEC needs to take note of these patterns. We do need stronger academics for the purposes of research and grant revenue, but we also need to be able to take in universities which contribute through athletics. Should A&M, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Alabama, Vanderbilt, and Auburn choose to be more a part of the research partnerships then they need to be able to form an Academic alliance (conference) for those purposes. When it comes to athletics we need to be able to accept an Oklahoma State if the opportunity permits, or even a West Virginia. The ability to increase our revenue in both areas needs not to be restricted.
@JRsec @HoustonVol This is just hearsay, but I think the SEC balked at Oklahoma State last year. It's possible that both OU and OSU could have ended up in the SEC last year, but that never materialized. The conventional wisdom is that OSU was not on par with what the SEC was looking for although it may have been more of a market issue not wanting 2 teams from OK. Not sure.
I wonder though if academic reputation is as big a factor as it's reported as being if a school like SMU might be in the target of the SEC. As far as schools with good rankings go, they seem to be the only ones that take sports seriously and are near the SEC footprint.
@AllTideUp @HoustonVol Well anyway you cut it counting Notre Dame there are 63 teams in the Big 5. We are already 1 to 5 teams away from what will likely be our finishing number. Now it's just going to be a matter of consolidation. It will be motivated by decreasing overhead and maximizing income. Maybe it happens sooner or later, or maybe we get stuck with a fifth wheel, literally. My money is on the affects of increased economic pressure and fear of uncertain times.
@JRsec @HoustonVol Unless there is something inconsistent with the contract that the ACC has in place for its schools, I don't think a court will come in and void that clause. Each schools signs away a little bit of its freedom if they enter into a conference and they must first agree to abide by all the bylaws if they are to be allowed into the league. I would love to have a VA and a NC school in the SEC, but my hopes of it went down with all the shuffling the last couple of years.
There are 62 programs in the current big 5 conferences although many of the Western states are underrepresented. The order we have now is awkward, inefficient, and it's not terribly pleasing to the fans. Something needs to change one of these days.
@HoustonVol @AllTideUp In my reply to AllTideUp I was agreeing with his statement about not wanting two from such a small state. I gave the rankings of both as an indication of which was preferable. OU with 101 is certainly the pick. The same could be said of Kansas and Kansas State. The thing Kansas has in its favor is also a 101 ranking plus AAU status. But again, no dice if its the pair. And, Missouri does deliver a bit of the Kansas market. It's going to be entertaining to see it work its way out and to see whether we stop with 5 conferences and the next additions to either the ACC or Big 12, or move to 4 conferences of 16 by dividing up the Big 12, or move to the most profitble scenario of three conferences of 20. To accomplish 4 x 16 is the simplest. Eight, or more, of the 10 teams leave the Big 12 after voting to disband. 3 x 20 is the one that is most logical in that it answers the needs of all three of the stongest conferences. New markets for the SEC and Big 10 with the Big 10 matching its current profile and the SEC improving moderately with academic additions. The PAC expanding markets but more importantly gaining strength.
As for the ACC's 50+ million exit fee: 1. The courts have to uphold it. 2. The conferences can recoup that money by just not passing out the amounts of everyone's contractual increases for a period of two to three years following the additions of the new teams. If Virginia Tech and N.C. State (just examples) each increased the income of the SEC by a million a piece (conservative estimate) then 42 million is recouped in three years time by not raising any of the existing SEC schools annual payout. Missouri and A&M each paid out to the Big 12 about 23 million to join the SEC. If you hold the new schools to the same standard that equals 46 million. So in three years we have the two markets we want and 88 of the 100 million recouped. In the fourth year there would be a minimal raise for the teams. Not a long wait, nor a prohibitive inconvenience for a much bigger payday. Remember too, if this happened in this manner both Virginia Tech and N.C. State would have earned back their payout in just two years. 11 million more per year in the SEC than the ACC equals 22 of the 23 million. 50 million is not an insurmountable barrier at all.
@JRsec @HoustonVol We have yet to see whether or not a $56 million exit fee is a prohibitive amount of money in this climate, but it' s possible that certain programs might be willing to leave the ACC. I kind of doubt it though. If Notre Dame doesn't get a new solo contract from NBC then they will most likely join the ACC in full and the conference will probably grab UConn or Rutgers to be at 16. When the ACC hits 16, does that encourage anyone else to do the same? Not sure. ND's contract is up in about 2 years so is that the sort of shift Mike Alden is talking about? I don't know.
I think you are right that the SEC wants into the VA and NC markets, but it doesn't look doable right now. I think the SEC would leap at the chance to take OU if they could get another suitable partner, but the Big 12 looks stable as well now for about 12 more years. Outside of the mid-major programs around, I don't see who else is truly available and looking to improve their situation. And are any of the mid-majors truly worthy? Outside of Louisville, I don't think so, but they don't represent a new market.
I think when all this expansion stuff started that the plan from Mike Slive was more complex than just absorbing A&M and Mizzou. The reactions of other leagues to the shuffling though put a stop to any grander plans. I know people have said the SEC had no desire to expand and that they simply reacted to Texas A&M's overtures, but I would think any good organization would have expansion plans in the back pocket in the event circumstances change. The SEC and A&M had talks going back to the 80s so surely the long range plans of the conference were bold.
@AllTideUp @HoustonVol I think you were right about two teams from Oklahoma, and the academic ranking of OU is 101st, that of the Cowboys is in the 130's. I don't think we would pass on Okie State if we absolutely needed somebody to pair up with a big pick. Boone Pickens can cover a multitude of transgressions with his pocket book. As far as the Mustangs go they do have a good tradition and a 1.1 Billion with a B endowment for athletics, but they average around 30,000 at home games, not SEC stuff. If we only add two to move to 16 the picks are a Virginia and Carolina school. Ideally I think the SEC would really like Virginia and North Carolina. But wanting them and getting them are two different things. Maybe we could take Duke and Virginia Tech, but Duke probably wants to go where UVA and UNC go. N.C. State and Virginia Tech therefore is the logical answer. But, not the best answer.
What if De Loss Dodds has been checking around. He could move to the ACC, but guess what, no football cache. He could move to the Big 10, but Texas alumni wouldn't be happy with a bunch of rust belt Yankees. He could move to the PAC but could he take enough teams from his area with him to make it work? No. The PAC wasn't keen on Texas Tech, two Oklahoma schools, or two Kansas schools. They sure as Hades wouldn't be interested in 3 or 4 Texas schools. Maybe they could get Iowa State, but that's a little disconnected and not exactly a national brand for TV. The truth is Texas stuck with the Big 12 to buy time to try to work things out. De Loss Dodds knows his Horns need a Florida connection to remain a national contender. That's why he wanted Florida State and little else from the ACC. Dodds also doesn't let anybody speak for the University of Texas without clearance. Mack Brown has been making some noise in recent weeks about wanting an SEC like defense. I find this odd coming from a man who wouldn't mention our conferences name when A&M joined up. I think he has figured out the only way that UT survives and thrives is in a conference with strong football chops and a Florida connection and there is only one of those, us. The real win win to 16 would be Texas and Virginia Tech, or Texas and Florida State.
I've felt all along the only way that we get a North Carolina and Virginia school is we take the lynch pin of ACC football. Without F.S.U. to bolster their sinking status Virginia Tech would call us to get in. Then maybe the Heels follow too, if not N.C.State accomplishes the task. With Texas gone OU, OSU, KU, and KSU are in a bind. WVU too. For that matter ND would be up a creek in a conference slipping right out from under them. With 18 in hand we might at least go for two more markets to close out at 20, or we might realize that the 18 we have is as good as it gets and stop.
Outside of that the merger option is still there.