The 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.