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Big Ten’s Scheduling Plans — Like All Leagues’ — Hinge On Expansion

gfx - they said itThe Big Ten is currently working on a new divisional set-up and a new scheduling format for 2014 and beyond.  By that time, Maryland and Rutgers will have joined the party and Jim Delany’s league will be 14 schools strong.  But will it hold at 14?  Most don’t believe so.  And even a few Big Ten ADs admit that the plans they’re making today could be moot if/when their league grows again:


“Based on the last three years I’ve been in this business, you’d be crazy not to think about it.  But it’s hard to model anything because you don’t know what to model.  The minute you get yourself convinced that you’re going to go from 14 to 16, for all you know you’re going to 18, and a lot of people think the ultimate landing place is 20.  Who knows?” — Michigan AD Dave Brandon

“You make your decision based on today.  And today, we have that many teams.  We can’t worry about something that’s not established yet.  I don’t know if and when there will be more teams.  Right now, we’re going to make decisions based on the additions of Rutgers and Maryland, and we’re going to make them with the information we have, consistent with our principles.”– Iowa AD Gary Barta

“What I’ve liked about our league is, when we added Nebraska, we felt like we needed to settle and watch the landscape.  We thought the East Coast was important, and we got two good pickups relative to that principal.  So I think we deal with what we have now, sit, monitor the landscape, and if something emerges down the road, we’re positioned to be able to absorb.” — Ohio State AD Gene Smith


The Big Ten isn’t alone in this boat.  The SEC kicked out a 2013 football schedule last year, but the league did not release a new scheduling format for future seasons.  The SEC’s twin television deals and it’s upcoming SEC Network are partly responsible for the delay, but so is the possibility of further expansion.


Sidenote – In our view, conference expansion/realignment has become heroin to the American sports junkie.  Yesterday, we attempted to point out that — as we suspected — the Big XII and SEC are indeed willing to talk about a scheduling alliance and that such an alliance could spell the demise of the ACC (because that league desperately needs an alliance with one of those leagues to stabilize itself).

We tried to make it clear that we were simply throwing out potential school moves as examples of what could play out if the SEC and Big XII decided to work together to bring down the ACC.  (Whether they want the ACC to survive or die remains to be seen.)  But the majority of emails and comments we’ve received about that piece have focused on who would go where, rather than on the ACC’s vulnerability.  Many folks focused on the example and missed the point.  Heck, we even called the examples “far-fetched,” “kookery,” “pure fiction,” and “a flight of fancy.”  Didn’t matter.

Conference expansion/realignment is a Hot Stove League for fans of college sports.  More so than recruiting.  More so than coaching searches.  Everyone seems to have an opinion and no matter what angle of realignment is being discussed initially, eventually everyone will begin to debate whether School A will wind up in Conference B or Conference C.

It’s truly fascinating.  There’s no other topic in college sports that leads so many people to the same landing spot… regardless of the starting point.



"We tried to make it clear..." followed a few sentences later by "Many people focused on the example and 'missed' the point."  followed by "Heck we even called the examples........." are all words that paint the reader who then proceeds to talk about the aspects of realignment which are near and dear to them in a light less favorable than that the of the observer who is offering what in essence seems to be an apology for the responses of the readers.  That, and I accept that you didn't intend it that way, came across as condescending.  The readers and posters never have to be explained.  They simply are.  The topic is in my opinion a cultural phenomenon for the reasons I stated, and certainly for other reasons I have not even considered.  My point was to say it is a useful tool for finally bringing a fragmented, and frequently stressed, collection of people together in a productive way over what in the great scheme of things is really an ancillary topic.


I enjoy your site and continue to recommend it to others.  My remarks were intended to be cautionary more than condemning so if you took them to be the latter I'm sorry the perception didn't match the intent and I accept that the perception I received from your remarks didn't match the perception that you intended to leave.  Keep writing your thoughts about realignment, but do try to look at it as a social therapy in addition to being a fascinating topic about something we love.  I realize that sometimes it must seem like giving a child a present only to watch them enjoy playing with the box, but sometimes the box is a lot more versatile and fun to play with, isn't it? 

JRsec 1 Like

The story of the ACC's vulnerability has hinged on the same 1 fact since this mess began almost two years ago, television revenue in the age of shrinking state funding.  Without that gap, and its continuance for the duration of their latest contract, none of the speculation about the ACC would be happening.  The Big 12 would still be in everyone's realignment plans and scenarios.  And in my opinion this became a national obsession for two reasons.  1.  People feel they have little control over their lives.  Too Big to Fail made them realize how little say they had over their own government.  The villification and assault of the Tea Party movement by the right and the Occupy movement by the left by the corporate media made them realize that they had no control over the singular viewpoints (which weren't those of most Americans) that were spouted nightly on their news.  The employment situation coupled with 40% declines in their 401k & 403b accounts amid the discussion of the solvency of Social Security made them shy away from anticipation of their retirement.  And the global monetary crisis and the constant threat from terrorism and the rise of Islamic fundamentalist leaders made them even less sure of global stability.  So the net effect is that people feel less in control of their own fate than at any time in recent memory.  


2.  Along comes realignment and they get to go to boards like this one and take a respite from the real anxiety and frustration of the aforementioned and put their 2 cents worth in as to who, what, when, and where their favorite football teams will be headed in its own version of the New World Order.  It's a marriage of displacement, fantasy, and articulation of viewpoints which unlike with the other issues people actually listen to and converse about.  John if you really knew that your blog had caught lightening in a bottle as a harmless social outlet for people everywhere who are just looking for a place to express their ideas, hopes, and fears as a therapy for the rest of this God forsaken mess then your attitude of an aloof judge of said behavior would change into one of a feeling of sympathy for what your fellow man retreats to in order not to think about all that he and his countrymen have lost.  Otherwise do you really think we would even care to read this time of year about basketball?


You are providing a valuable service, but it is less about sports and more about therapy.  So empathy and encouragement are more in line than any form of derision or condescension.  People will love their football no matter what teams wind up in these conferences.  That alone should tell you it's not really about realignment at all.  It is, and has been, about distraction.  And that I'm very fascinated with, both as a fan and a sociologist.  Only here can wild ideas and innovative outside the box thoughts be kicked about by people who actually feel somehow inspired by the speculation and the cumulative product produced by it whether it resembles reality or not.  It is the very right to have an idea heard that inspires many of your posters.  I'll discuss 16, 18, 20, or 24 if it makes the other person happy and entertains me and gives me a sense of joy as well.  This is a good social phenomenon and it is not reflective of idiocy or of grandiosity.  It is bringing together blue collar workers, retirees, executives, clerics, government workers, men and some women of all ages and people for the most part are remaining respectful and for once using an electronic device to bring commonality rather than isolation.  That is a very important lesson in the empowerment of the public.  So please keep posting the bait so all of us can run with it and enjoy the group activity of sharing ideas.  It is the sharing that is important, not the ideas so much.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



"Your attitude of an aloof judge."


I posted an observation, not a judgement.  


In five years of doing this site we've seen no other topic -- not NCAA hating, not conspiracies about officials or the league office, not recruiting, not coaching searches -- that consistently produces the same reaction no matter what is written on the topic.  Fans are addicted to this realignment stuff and it's become their hot stove league.  


How that is taken as some sort of insult, I don't know.  It certainly wasn't meant to be.  It's an observation.  Which is why I was floored when I read your comment.

Thanks for visiting the site,



But, as luck would have it, aren't those games mostly due to being from the same state & not because of conference affiliation?


The SEC and ACC already have an alliance of sorts, The last week of the season 4 sec teams play 4 acc teams and with the chick-fil-a thats 6 games. The SEC doesn't need the Big 12 the little12-2 needs the SEC.


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