What I love most about sports is that there are winners and there are losers. It's like a situation comedy, with really large actors. This year, as I've said is a Godsend for any sports blogger. I'm especially grateful because my team isn't part of the equation this year, other than being one of the guys that's "in a stable and profitable conference." The first 2 go-arounds were somewhat uncertain because I had no idea where Missouri was heading, if it would be anything resembling a good situation for the Tigers and, being a Missouri fan for over 40 years, the inevitable "how are we gonna fuck this up in some memorable fashion". Now some information that's starting to trickle out makes me realize what a competent, if nothing else, job our administration, athletic department and Board of Curators did during the last 2 years. And that's something I'm going to talk about pretty soon, but I have just a couple of thoughts left on what's happening right now. Frankly, I think it's entirely possible that nothing much changes for now. Lord Dodds of the Texas empire seems to favor not expanding any more at this moment. But just one last time, we're going to act like my earlier predictions, well guesses actually, do come true. In this situation we have some clear winners and losers in this so lets examine both camps.
Obviously, the Big XII is the biggest winner if all my rambled thoughts come to fruition. They were literally DOA last September with A&M heading to the SEC, OU and Okie Lite with possibly Bevo and Tech heading to the Pac 12. At about the same time came the announcement that Pitt and Syracuse were moving from the Big East to the ACC. Frankly, I, and not much of anyone else would have bet much on the possibility of the Big XII existing past the 2012 school year, but here they still are. The way I see it, Mike Slive, for one reason or another decided to select the Big XII as his dance partner. It could have been nothing more than a bone for pilfering the Tigers and Aggies, or maybe he just decided there were more attractive targets in an area he wanted along the east coast. Oklahoma and Texas were and remain the 2 big prizes, and well, only real prizes in the conference. But if they can sneak a couple of teams out of the ACC, or better yet 4, then it will be open season and the Big Ten and SEC can pillage at will, with no repercussions, since it was those nasty Texas boys that broke up the ACC. If the ACC is somehow able to hold it together look for our winners/losers list to change dramatically. In other words, you're on the clock Big XII. Don't fuck it up.
The loser's in this is also sort of fluid. We knew the Big East was dead. Hell, it was obvious when the Big XII was able to pick off West Virginia and TCU when it appeared they were teetering on the brink of extinction. Where it becomes a little murky is their company in athletics lite. Will it be the ACC? They were scorned by the SEC who agreed to a 5 year bowl pact with the Big xII. I'm convinced, that if this doesn't succeed in breaking the ACC up, then you can flip the two conferences. But another unexpected loser would be the Pac 12. Obviously the biggest prizes for them were OU and Texas and they would likely have been willing to bring along the 2 little brothers. But if the Big XII is to survive, then they're in a bit of a dilemma. Go for a few of the wounded ACC and you look little different than the current model of the Big East, which stretches from Idaho to New Jersey. No, they'd be stuck with bringing in members that aren't currently in BCS conferences'. As I say, it's still pretty fluid, and frankly, I believe it all hinges on Texas' ego and any future success of the Longhorn Channel. Right now, it looks as though Texas is trying to buy a little time, but as we know, that can change daily.
Just for the fun of it, let's assume that I'm right about all this and we're heading for 4 super-conference's of 16 teams each that control the cash cow that is college football. It's not that big a stretch considering the SEC/Big XII partnership of yet another bowl game last week, pitting the winners of their respective conference championships. This effectively removed the ACC from a joining in an alliance that really doesn't have to consider any of the non-qualifiers, which now includes the ACC as well as the Big East. Now if I'd been a betting man, I'd have guessed the Big XII would have been the guys on the outside looking in, but stepping back now this does make perfect sense. The ACC offers many more prizes and we've got another 16 teams that need to be added if we're going to go witha 4 conference-16 team model. Today, we'll take a look at the Bevo coalition and the SEC and who they may be hoping to add.
The league with the most work to do is obviously the Big XII. To reach a model of 16, they have 6 teams to add. Two are going to be needed almost immediately since at this time, they don't even have enough to hold a championship game. The 2 big prizes for them have to be Notre Dame and Florida State. I don't think the Irish will be making a jump quite yet, but, I do believe they'll give up within the next couple of year. But the Seminoles have been unhappy for some time, and last weeks agreement may push them over the edge. Clemson has been mentioned as a possible traveling partner, but I'm not convinced this will be who is chosen, although new member West Virginia would love having a few more teams toward the eastern half of the country. In this round I expect the winner will be Louisville. It still gives West Virginia a program within something resembling proximity and provides the beaks with another basketball power. This gets the Big XII a conference championship game and gives them time to pick off anything worthwhile from the Big East or a crippled ACC. However, when you look at possible candidates for four final spots, my best guess would be Clemson finally making the cut, along with Cincinnati, Miami and Georgia Tech.
No wonder this guy looks so happy. Mike Slive captured the 2 prizes, and their television sets that he wanted. Got the SEC into Texas and created a nice log jam in the middle of the country with Missouri bordering Big XII and Big Ten country. Then, after threats made by the Big XII trying to keep the Tigers in the fold, he was able to make peace and forge the partnership to push the ACC schools that value football to look elsewhere or watch their flagship programs be reduced to Mountain West status. There's no doubt in my mind that if he had his druthers, he'd be picking off North Carolina and Virginia. However, both of those schools are more basketball centric, so they may well be happy in whatever's going to happen. Besides, I don't see Carolina giving up it's rivalry with Duke. For this reason I think the teams that will be chosen will be Virginia Tech and North Carolina State. That takes two conference's to 16. Next time we'll talk about the Big Ten and Pac 12, who also suffered a blow when the SEC and Big XII announced their deal.
The announcement on Friday that the SEC and Big XII would be matching up in a a bowl game (tentatively named the Championship Bowl) sent shock waves across the college football world. The Big XII, which has worked to stabilize itself since losing 4 teams to the three main power conference's the last two years now becomes a player in what's going to be a huge shift in college athletics. Meanwhile, the ACC, which added 2 new teams itself suddenly teeters on the brink of irrelevancy. You can now expect this new game to be round 2 of a future playoff. Round 1 will be the championship games of the 4 major conferences, at least as soon as the Big XII adds at least 2 more teams to qualify for a title game. And make no mistake, they're going to expand now, and expand quickly.
If the Big XII had a wish list out there, Florida State would be at the top of it. There's been no secret that there's been a lot of disagreement among the athletic department, board of trustees and the administration of the Seminoles over what would be the best move to make. In my opinion, this settled the question for the faction that wanted to keep things as they were. Yes, there isn't that big a difference in television money currently, but adding the state of Florida to it's footprint, the Big XII should have no problem renegotiating the contract that was just finalized this week. Clemson would seem to be a natural partner for FSU and would again, place the Big XII in a new market, and offer some closer rivals for new member West Virginia.
So we're entering a brave new world in college athletics, but what does it mean? Currently you've got 48 teams in what now appears to be the only 4 conference's that matter. Does the newly formed bowl contest between the Big XII and SEC equal 1/2 of a championship picture while the Rose Bowl is relegated to the other half? What about the teams from the Big East and ACC? Will they be content for 2nd class citizenship or will there be a rush to join another conference? Can Notre Dame afford to remain independent now? Lots of questions, and we're going to take a look at some possible answers next time when I give my predictions on where this thing winds up over the next couple of years.
The reason it seems like just a few days ago I was talking about Missouri landing a top recruit is because it was. Now here we go again with offensive lineman Jake Campos, a 4 star offensive lineman calling Rivals reporter Pete Scantlebury to announce he had committed to the Tigers. This was something of a surprise, as Campos lives in West Des Moines, Iowa, and this is the kind of kid that the Hawkeyes normally feed on, but here he went and decided to travel south and play for Missouri, who isn't well known for getting offensive linemen into the NFL. However, before recruiting started, I do remember hearing a thought that the SEC move might actually help the Tigers recruit Big Ten territory. Despite what some fans of other schools may believe, football players want to play against the best, and there's no doubt that's the SEC. Also, despite what many thought, even though Missouri switched, Columbia remains in the same place. They are now the northern-most place a kid can go to school and still play teams like Alabama, Florida, LSU and Georgia. Don't be surprised if this trend continues, and life becomes increasingly difficult for teams that used to waltz into Missouri and take our best players. Now, you better make sure you work harder to keep Pinkel and company from doing the same to you.
Also disconcerting to Big XII fans was the news that the ACC and ESPN had renegotiated their television contract that includes Friday night football and should pay each team around $17 million per year. This may well put a damper on Big XII hopes that Florida State and Clemson could be persuaded into jumping over to the midwestern conference. This has especially been pushed by West Virginia fans who just now seem to be realizing that currently Iowa State is their closest neighbor in their new conference at around 900 miles. Frankly, I don't know if FSU or Clemson is interested in moving, and in about 51 days, I'm pretty sure I won't give a shit. But, the new television contract the Big XII is getting ready to sign is worth 20 million per year, and I'm not convinced that FSU and Clemson will be willing to move to add another 3 million to their bottom line.