Expansion Who Wins, Who Loses

Okay with the dust finally settling in this realignment business, we can be sure of one thing that even though things may be calm and the wholesale changes to different conferences has been stemmed for now, the realignment talk is not done.

Let’s recap; Utah leaves the Mountain West behind and joins the Pac-10, Boise St. replaces them in the MWC after leaving the WAC Nebraska and Colorado leaves the Big-12 for a chance to play in the Rose Bowl, Nebraska to the Big-10, and Colorado to the Pac-10. For the record only four programs will be filing change of address forms for now.

Losers:

Kansas, Kansas St. Iowa St, Baylor- When the talks heated up between the Pac-10 and the Big-12 South, those programs were about to be banished to obscurity. There was talk of Kansas being in the (gasp) Mountain West Conference. The way Kansas was talking, you would think they would rather drop to Division II than go to the MWC. So what did the remaining schools and Missouri do? They lined their streets with shade trees allowed Texas to march to their campuses in comfort and in the shade, watched Texas sit in their best chair, eat their good food, drink their wine, and when they were finished, leave with their wives, money and jewels and a percentage of the money from here until the end of time or the end of the conference, whichever comes first. Texas basically held them up and took everything of value, and these programs said “thank you sir may I have another”.
I guess it’s a small price to pay to stay relevant; it’s better to be in a dysfunctional relationship with the Devil you know, than being in a possibly healthy one with the Devil you don’t. Maybe those programs now understand that football drives this conversation and will step up their efforts.

The Big East- The Big East could have used this opportunity (conference expansion) to put pressure on Notre Dame. Notre Dame has been an independent but competes in the Big East in all other sports. The arrangement works great for the Domers but how much does the Notre Dame’s men’s and women’s basketball program get you excited if you are any Big East program’s fan base? The Big East needs to find out definitively if Notre Dame would ever be a full-fledged member of the Big East at some point and mandate that even though ND is independent that they play at least four to five or more Big East programs yearly to help the overall finances and exposure of the schools in the conference. The Big East did nothing to boost its conference’s profile or overall net worth. The rumors of Memphis and Central Florida were floated. Both are good markets but the basketball side would be a nightmare (a conference of 18 would be too much) and when it all said and done the Big East is a hoops conference first.

The Pac-10- They wanted the big fish (Texas) and “let’em off tha hook”. Texas and friends would have been a nice addition to the Pac-10 but in the end the price became too great. Do not discount the behind the scenes pressure that may have been put on Texas by the Lone Star State Politicos which may have kept the Big-12 afloat. Larry Scott needed to understand the political climate in the State of Texas and know whose palm needed to be greased to make this happen. The Pac-10 recovered with picking up Utah and Colorado, but ask yourself if you are a PAC-10 program or fan of the conference do those programs get you excited on any level?

The MWC- The MWC was thinking with the Big 12 south headed to the Pac-10, that move would effectively keep Utah in their conference, thereby bolstering the conference’s BCS profile which is some ridiculous formula with wins and losses and how the conference performs vs. the BCS conferences and final rankings. The MWC can no longer claim Utah’s achievements but can claim Boise St’s successes, which playing in the WAC for the next year could afford Boise St the opportunity for another trip to a BCS bowl game and helping the overall conferences numbers. Couple this with the MWC’s desire to stay at nine programs when they should become more forward thinking and look at new markets that would help with exposure; U of Houston, Fresno St. or SMU come to mind. The conference needs to have the bottom third of the league step it up in attendance and performance, are you listening SDSU, UNLV and New Mexico.

Missouri- Mizzou went from being a hot candidate in Big-10 expansion rumors to paying Texas to stay in the Big-12. According to many columnists Mizzou was playing the speculation correctly, not speaking much about the desire to go to the Big-10, not discussing the matter publicly, and answering every expansion question with no comment or a terse denial, the exception was the state’s governor blasting other Big-12 member institutions for their academics. The end result of this is Mizzou remains in a dysfunctional relationship that masquerades as the conference called the Big-12. You have to wonder if the Big-10’s offer was genuine, or was Mizzou trying to politic its way into the Big-10, or maybe the Big-10 thought 13 was an unlucky number and with no one else coming aboard rescinded its offer, or the conference is holding its offer until both Rutgers and Notre Dame make a move. Don’t think the next time that the Big-10 come a callin’ that Mizzou won’t be out the door, and will do things the “Mizzou way”, being boisterous and whiny.

Rutgers- This just in, Rutgers is not an attractive program, it just happens to be in an attractive market. Football wise it has no business in the Big-10, it would be the east coast outpost of the Big-10, imagine road trips to Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. What if anything do those states have in common with New Jersey? In those states the horrible smell has to do with dairies, in New Jersey it is just pollution and sewage. Rutgers should have taken the upgrade in prestige and said sign me up! (Like a guy with no job, acne, 100 lbs overweight and no personality dating a pin up model.)

Winners:

The Big 12- I am shocked that we still have a Big-12. The Big 12 was hearing “Taps” and being lowered into the ground when the other conferences heard a knock on the casket opened the casket, the BigXII sat up yawned and asked,” how long was I asleep” The other conferences replied a few years, the Big-12 then vowed to be more forward thinking to keep the conference alive and concentrate more on its “big fish”; Texas, A&M, Oklahoma. The college football world will watch to see if this seemingly dysfunctional relationship can continue.

Texas- See what was written regarding the Kansas et al, and add they get their own network. They are now Notre Dame, without the false arrogance, and the recent success to warrant the network, etc. Texas has the opportunity to be the first real super program in the nation. Let’s see great recruiting base, their own network, good coaches in every sport and the ability to pay them what they are worth so you will not hear any Texas coaches leaving for “a better job” and if they do I am sure they will have a list of qualified candidates by the end of the day and a “Yes” in two days. Deloss Dodds must wake up every morning and pinch himself to make sure this is real. Last but not least the other programs in its conference essentially work for them so even when any of the other nine programs wins, Texas wins.

Nebraska- They immediately step into a situation where they are a relevant program again and they are an equal member of a conference that respects Nebraska’s football pedigree. Nebraska never seemed to fit in the Big-12, you think of them as being a Big 8 school and probably got some misinformation when they joined the Big 12 and believed they would continue their heated rivalry with Oklahoma. Instead they joined the Big 12 and had a heated rivalry with Colorado. Colorado? They Nebraska will be in a Rose Bowl within five years mark it down.

The SEC- Why? They were silent during this upheaval, in fact the only story regarding the SEC was a story about how much money member institutions made last year, which for the record was more than any other conference. The conference could have expanded and was mentioned in the 11th hour as a home for Texas A&M, (you almost believe the Aggies used the offer and interest as a way to drive up the price for them staying in the Big-12 or with the other Big 12 south members as the Aggies may not have been the prize that they would like to believe they are. The SEC is fine with the teams they have you do almost wish that Vanderbilt would join the ACC which is a better fit, but who would you get to replace them, and Vandy brings academic credibility to the conference which no other schools in the region can bring with the exception of Georgia Tech. The SEC resisted the temptation of adding ACC programs for the sake of doing so. The programs they would have added are in markets they already have. Miami, Florida St. you have to think with the Gators being successful they have a footprint in the South Florida and Central Florida markets. South Carolina may not be the big dog in its state but where does that market rank (the cities in the Palmetto state) as far as television sets? Georgia Tech maybe in Atlanta but the A-T-L is an S-E-C city. The SEC also does not have to split the money with any other programs that are not SEC worthy and are just hangers on, as you see in other conferences.

Utah- They go from being a have not to a have. Utah goes from having to sneak cheap beer from the older people at the party, to turning 21 and being able to order a Scotch and Soda with a Tequila chaser. Non AQ programs should take note of the formula the Utes employed. Yes, the wins on the big stage helped, the two 13-0 seasons also helped immensely, but look at Utah’s record since 2000. You’ll see a 5-6 in the mix as well as a lot of 8-5’s, 7-5’s, and 9-4’s as records for the Utes. The one thing you will notice is that the Utes have had an average attendance of greater that 50,000 per game, and that is with your rival 80 miles away which plays in stadium that seats 65,000 that is usually filled to capacity and fighting just as hard to be relevant nationally. Meaning the fans and fan attendance are just as much a part of this equation as the on the field performance.

The BCS- The Broken Cash System continues on with no end in sight. With conferences going to 16 teams the one thing that would have happened was talk of a college playoff would become real. You have to believe there were some nervous moments when the Pac-10 and the Big12 south were in talks, the Big 10 would have moved to 16 teams, the SEC would have poached programs in the ACC, or former Big-12; the ACC would have poached the Big East, and there would have been programs exiled to the MWC, C-USA or WAC. The end result would have been if the BCS were still in play that the Justice Department would get involved and put an end to the insanity.

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