Clemson, FSU, and GT would not be fits in the SEC because they would not bring new t.v. Markets with them.
A few weeks back, Missouri AD Mike Alden said the he believed there would be more conference shuffling before the new college football playoff launched in 2014. It sure looks now like he knew what was coming.
Over the weekend, news broke that the Big Ten was thisclose to expanding its boundaries with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland. Big football names? No. But big television markets for Jim Delany’s Big Ten network? You bet. Not to mention this fact: the Big Ten will now have two more teams vying for spots in the six mega-bowls coming in 2014 to a sunny spot near you.
Cash, cash, cash.
Now, in theory, it’s possible that the Big Ten — Maryland moved today with Rutgers coming soon — will simply catch up with the 14-team SEC and the 14-team ACC in terms of overall roster size. (It’s believed Connecticut, despite Boston College’s protests, will fill Maryland’s void in the ACC.) But it’s hard to picture this stuff slowing down. At this point, conference commissioners are simply diving on the floor for every loose coin they spot. Presidents are in a panicked state and leagues and teams are moving too fast to stop and think about what they’re doing.
Oh, they’ll all wind up lining their wallets for a while, but whether or not that’s good for sports or individual conferences or schools remains to be seen. The age of the super-conference appears to be at hand. We, at MrSEC.com, could live with 14-team leagues, but 16 schools is just too unwieldy. Not that that will matter to the conferences or their presidents.
SEC sources have repeatedly spoken to us of how difficult the “digestion” of two new teams has been. Money has been gained, but much tradition has been lost. Move to 16 schools and things get even messier in terms of what’s given away. But with so much given away already why not just really go all in with expansion? Just go crazy, Mike Slive. Go crazy.
All of this is driven by football, of course, and traditionally lackluster football programs like Kentucky, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt have to hate the idea of adding more teams to the SEC mix for them to climb above. The same goes for schools in talent-poor states like Arkansas and Tennessee. But if money’s on the table, to hell with success. Just take the cash, right?
Right now, it looks as though everything is about to go back onto the table:
* Television negotiations for the conferences. Rip ‘em up, re-do them. Again.
* The playoff plan and the revenue split for that television package. Start from scratch.
* Notre Dame to the ACC as a part-time member. Not gonna happen if the ACC falters.
* The Big East conference. Everytime it replaces a founding member with a lesser name it just gets weaker and weaker.
* Paying athletes. This brings us one step closer to a new subdivision within the FBS. The high-revenue schools would play by their own rules and would offer full cost-of-admission scholarships to their players.
And so on. Chaos reigns. Cats and dogs living together, etc.
What a disappointment.
Here’s hoping the Big Ten’s moves don’t cause other leagues to get froggy. Here’s hoping everyone will calm the hell down, allow the playoffs to arrive and see how all the changes made to date actually work out… before changing again.
We believe Missouri and Texas A&M will be long-term positives for the SEC. But we don’t know that yet. No one does. Not Mike Slive, not the school presidents he works for, not anyone. Not for sure. And the same goes for all the other leagues and schools making moves as well.
But it doesn’t look as though the power brokers in college athletics are going to take a deep breath. It looks like they’re just going to take another deep dive into the expansion/realignment pool with no inkling of what awaits them in the dark waters of a super-conference era.
With Maryland out of the ACC, John Swofford’s league will make a play for UConn or make one last push for Notre Dame to join as a full-time member. Either way, the ACC is destabilized again. That will cause Florida State, Virginia Tech, Clemson and the rest to start looking elsewhere.
Well, if everyone’s going to rush into panicky moves, might as well just go all-in with ‘em, Mr. Slive. Here’s our tip — just crush the ACC and go to 20 stinkin’ schools already.
With 20 schools, the money from television would be insane. And in many ways it’d be like putting the old Southern Conference back together again.
In 1922, the league that eventually spun off the SEC and ACC included: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Tulane, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Washington & Lee. That’s 19 schools.
So why not just cherry pick the best of the ACC before Jim Delany and the Big Ten or Bob Bowlsby and the Big 12 can? Throw caution to the wind — as if everyone hasn’t already — and just form a raiding party along the Appalachian Mountains.
We’re just spitballin’ here — much as the actual commissioners and presidents appear to be doing — but why not just go all in for Duke, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh? Such a move would bring in new television markets, new recruiting territory, expand the league footprint, yada, yada, yada.
Then split the league into two 10-school divisions for football:
|SEC West||SEC East|
|Miss. State||N. Carolina|
Now some will say this is ridiculous because some of those high-minded ACC schools listed above would rather join an expanded Big Ten… or because Pittsburgh is a shade north of Columbia, Missouri… or because Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech would be better fits in a new SEC. Those people would be right. And that’s the point.
All this is ridiculous.
The people running college sports appear to be drawing up league boundaries on bar napkins just like every Joe Sixpack fan, every mass media talking head, and every internet hack (here’s lookin’ at ya).
There has always been movement of schools from one league to another. Evolution has always existed. The sporting world is no longer evolving, however. It’s making giant leaps. Conferences today are attempting to slither out of the primordial ooze in one move and then start walking upright in the next.
We at MrSEC.com don’t believe that’s a good thing. When schools who’ve studied one another and flirted for years get together — like the SEC’s schools and Texas A&M, for example — fine, there’s been some thought put into that one. But when leagues simply make moves for the sake of grabbing a quick buck or out-maneuvering some other conference’s potential moves, that’s just reckless.
Never before have we seen as much conference shifting in such a short span. Blame television, blame the economy, blame university presidents and conference commissioners who are more concerned with dollars than sense.
Whatever the reason, might as well just get all up in the stupid with everybody else. Commissioner Slive, have fun. Throw darts at a map. Move to 15 or 16 or 18 or 20 schools. No one knows how any of this will turn out anyway. So have a little fun like everyone else. Just start grabbing schools left and right. By the time we learn if all these rushed moves are good or bad for the sport, you and your fellow generation of commissioners and presidents will be sitting on your back porches smoking cigars in retirement.
Get messy. Somebody else will clean it up.
(And for the record, we have no problem with the Big Ten making these moves. They seem well-reasoned, but if they set off a chain reaction of panicky reactions from other leagues, that’s the problem.)