Conference Realignment Chatter and the Big 12


If you’re a fan of college sports you’re already fully aware of the news that Maryland is heading to the Big Ten conference in 2014 and that it’s expected that Rutgers will announce a similar move tomorrow with a Big Ten ETA of 2015. Earlier today I published an article on the news because it once again significantly alters the conference landscape.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby needs to be proactive and push for expansion. (Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE)

I am firmly of the belief that the Big 12 needs to act quickly and intelligently to get their membership up to 14 schools. It’s going to be critical to their future survival as a conference, but also to their success.

In my earlier piece I briefly noted why Florida State and Clemson – two schools who have been rumored to be heading to the Big 12 in the past – may be more motivated today to leave the ACC than they were prior to the start of the 2012 football season. It appears that there is some concern within the ACC’s ranks that one or both schools may again be in play for the Big 12 (Watch the video in the above linked article).

I forgot to mention Louisville in my earlier article, but they are another quality athletic program that has, in the recent past, publicly expressed interest in joining the Big 12 if the conference decides to expand.

From a conference standpoint I hold fast to the belief that the Big 12 needs to get back to a point where they have a championship game in football. I’m hardly out on a limb in that particular belief and honestly I haven’t come across many fans that would disagree. Some of the advantages that come with that game – increased revenue, increased national exposure and the opportunity to pad a team’s resume heading into the playoffs/bowl system – are fairly obvious and far from insignificant.

SB Nation’s Kansas State site, Bring on the Cats, laid out another fantastic reason why the conference needs to expand to 14. Jon Morse, who authored the fine piece, uses the schedules and resulting records of the SEC and Big 12 to make his case and once you see the results side-by-side it’s absolutely staggering.

The ripples of Maryland and Rutgers decisions have already started to spread outward.

The University of Connecticut appears to be one of the favorites to take the Terrapins spot in the ACC with Louisville being the other. However, South Florida and Cincinnati have also been thrown into the rumor mill according to a CBS Sports article.

Regardless of which school makes the jump to replace Maryland, it seems a near certainty that it’s the Big East that will be hit with another torpedo below their water line. If Louisville is truly on the ACC’s radar and if the Big 12 has any interest in the Kentucky-based school they’re going to have to move more quickly than the snail’s pace they’re accustomed to. They say they want to stay at ten schools but their hand may be forced. In the conference realignment game, it’s eat or be eaten. It’s time to be proactive and stay that way.

Speaking of being eaten, the Big East may have even bigger problems on their hands.

In addition to the departure of Rutgers, losing Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC and West Virginia and TCU (who never actually made it there) other defections could be at hand. That’s aside from the four schools potentially in play for the ACC. Oh, and I almost forgot the departure of Notre Dame who is taking their non-football sports from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast as well.

The Mountain West Conference has reportedly reached out to San Diego State, Boise State and BYU in an effort to get part of their band back together. BYU joined the West Coast Conference in 2011 but the other two are supposed to be Big East bound after this year.

The Big East was already trying to hold itself together with rubber bands and chewing gum while negotiating a new television package. These recent moves and rumors aren’t going to help matters and if I were a network bidding on the rights to the conference I would definitely shift into wait and see mode. It’s hard to bid on a package when so much is up in the air and recent history suggests that the Big East is far from stable, even when it appears that it is.