It would appear that my hopes and dreams of the Big 12 getting involved in the conference expansion game will go unrealized for the time being. Wednesday morning the league presidents of the Atlantic Coast Conference voted unanimously to accept the University of Louisville into their fold. The Cardinals will effectively replace the University of Maryland which officially decided to leave the ACC in favor of the Big 10 on November 19th.
This move doesn’t completely prevent the Big 12 from pursuing Louisville or other ACC schools, like Florida State and Clemson, but it does show that the conference was unwilling to get involved in the shakeup that kicked off with Maryland and Rutgers recent decision to “relocate.”
That unwillingness to act or react could spell trouble for the Big 12 and its institutions as the landscape continues to shift around them. While they appear to be on solid footing at the present time I can’t help but feel that the Big 12 is too focused on the present – and their sizable slices of financial pie – and not looking far enough down the road. After all, if you don’t adapt and evolve the chances are much greater that you’re going to become extinct. The University of Louisville was a perfect target for the Big 12 and that target has slipped through their fingers.
Speaking of becoming extinct, the Big East continues to take on water.
Louisville joins Rutgers, Notre Dame, West Virginia, TCU, Syracuse and Pittsburgh as schools to abandon the conference in the last year and a half. To darken the sky even further Connecticut and Cincinnati actively lobbied to take the spot in the ACC that Maryland left behind and are clearly willing to leave the nest if given the chance. Reports indicate that South Florida was also contacted by the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Big East’s additions of Tulane and East Carolina yesterday – with the latter being a football-only addition – do little to stem the growing likelihood that the conference is in serious trouble with regard to it’s automatic bid in the BCS, not to mention the plummeting value of their television rights.
Realignment, however, isn’t just for the big boys.
The University of Denver left the Sun Belt Conference to join the Western Athletic Conference this season but announced earlier this week that it will jump to the Summit League for the 2013 school year. That means our UMKC Roos will have a new opponent on it’s 2013 schedules and one that seems like a natural fit.
The WAC responded to the defection of Denver by adding Grand Canyon University which is in the process of transitioning from Division-II to Division I.
Conference USA, which just lost Tulane and East Carolina to the Big East has poached Middle Tennessee State from the Sun Belt. In reports coming out this afternoon have apparently also pulled fellow Sun Belt school Florida Atlantic to get back to 14 members. The WAC’s New Mexico State was also rumored to be on Conference USA’s radar.
While all of this is going on the Big 12 and it’s leadership appear to be asleep at the wheel. They appear to be oblivious to what is taking place around them. The writing on the wall makes it clear that a 10-team power conference is not going to remain a viable entity in the long term. Sure they have a 13-year grant of rights in place, but what happens after that? The direction things are moving make it clear that the current setup aside, sticking to ten schools and playing Switzerland to appease the SEC is probably going to backfire down the road.