Realignment Today: 3:02 p.m. Update - ACC issues statement as talk about further Big Ten expansion continues
3:02 p.m. Update:
Well, by now I'm sure many of you have heard that the ACC issued a joint statement which indicated that the rumors about ACC schools going to other conferences are false.
That's what they're saying, anyway.
Here's the link:
I applaud the ACC for saying something, even if it is somewhat laughable, but I can assure you that this statement means very little in all of this. If you're in the ACC's shoes, it's much better to have something like this exist than not. But it hardly means things are sunny in ACC land right now.
Let's face it, they upped the exit fee to $50 million — an astronomical number at the time it happened — and even that didn't keep schools from leaving. If a school wants to leave and another conference wants to take them, they're gone. That's still at least a decent sized "if" at the moment, as we're simply waiting to see if the Big Ten really wants to take its power play all the way.
A couple of quick things to share before I move on to the rest of my day and get back to wrapping up the Kansas University football season and working on that Granting of Rights story. It’s coming... I promise. And it’s going to give you a real thorough look at what that thing’s all about.
Just quickly, though, I noticed that there has been a lot more talk out there about Big Ten expansion in the past 24 hours and I wanted to touch on that a little more.
Popular opinion right now says that as soon as the Big Ten adds two more to get to 16 that will open the floodgates for the ACC, SEC and Big 12 to jump on the bandwagon and start adding to their member lists as well. That makes sense. But I’m not so sure it’s going to go that way.
I know a lot of people out there believe that such a move would force the Big 12 to act, but you have to remember that, at its core, this thing is all about television dollars. If the Big 12 can add a couple of teams — say Florida State and Clemson — and increase its value in the eyes of the league’s television partners then it becomes a no-brainer to expand. Do it yesterday. But if not, why do it at all?
It’s not as if this is a guessing game either. The TV execs would gladly enter (and may already have) into any discussions or negotiations about the potential to make more money (from their advertisers and corporate sponsors) but also would be very blunt in explaining to any conference whether moves A, B or C would actually bring increased value. If they say no, I don’t think you can expand. If they say yes, poach away.
One Big 12 administrator with knowledge of the league’s television deals I spoke with yesterday said he did not think college athletics was headed toward four 16-team super conferences any time soon and also said he thought both the ACC and Big 12 were in good shape and did not need to panic and expand for the sake of expansion.
Another league source told me recently that he thought if the Big 12 wanted to expand it likely would have done so already.
I know many reports have indicated that there is some division within the Big 12 about the issue of staying at 10 or expanding. While that may be true on a small level, I don’t believe the members who are open to expansion have reached the point where they are adamant about it happening. I think all 10 still see the value in staying at the current number and are content to remain there.
I’m not sure the same can be said for the Big Ten.
This recent report features Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis pointing out the advantages of expanding to 16....
... And this report quotes Illinois chancellor Phyllis Wise saying that the league did not discuss any other schools when it unanimously voted to approve the additions of Maryland and Rutgers. http://www.news-gazette.com/news/education/2012-12-06/no-other-universities-considered-big-ten-when-maryland-rutgers-joined.html
The articles above do not necessarily indicate that Big Ten officials have differing viewpoints on further expansion, and it’s clear in both of them that the league is planning to evaluate the landscape on a daily basis and will act accordingly.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and company are certainly worth keeping an eye on but it may be possible that the Big Ten is not the key piece in all of this after all.
I know I’ll be watching just as closely for news from the ACC’s lawsuit against Maryland and Rutgers’ lawsuit against the Big East. Both are intriguing, potentially game-changing moves and the outcome of either could have just as big of an impact on conference realignment as any expansion talks.
Time will tell.
While we wait, here's an updated percentage wheel with my thoughts on what the Big 12 will do in the near future...
- Stay at 10 - 74%
- Expand by 2 - 13%
- Expand by 4 - 12%
- Expand by 6 - 1%
I’m still working on that granting of rights story to help bring a little clarity to the issue of why KU and the rest of the Big 12 schools can’t or, more likely, won’t leave for another conference any time soon.
I’ll make sure you all see that when it’s finished.
For now, though, let’s shift gears back to the concept of the Big 12 adding schools as opposed to any of the current members leaving.
If we’ve learned nothing else through this whole realignment mess it’s that things change quickly and sometimes turn 180 degrees on the same day.
That seems to be the case currently, as the hottest rumors regarding the Big 12 today center on the possible addition of Florida State and perhaps even one or more other ACC schools.
Miami, Virginia Tech, Clemson and, possibly even Georgia Tech could be included if something were to take place. But right now the whole thing seems to be stuck in a holding pattern featuring heads on swivels.
Curt Popejoy of RantSports.com released a recap late Tuesday night that said Tampa radio stations have been reporting that FSU has accepted an invitation to the Big 12 and that an announcement could come as soon as next week.
I don’t think we’re there yet. There are too many elements of this thing still up in the air, whether that’s the result of the ACC’s lawsuit against Maryland to enforce full payment of the $50 million exit fee or the fact that the Big Ten may still be looking to expand its membership, which, if it did, would have a major impact on the rest of the realignment rodeo.
Multiple sources have told me recently that very few people/schools involved in this mess actually enjoy the idea of realignment but are forced to act or at least prepare to act out of a sense of self preservation.
It’s my belief that the Big Ten, SEC, ACC and Big 12 all have been working hard behind the scenes on ways to not only strengthen their conference through proactive movement, but also to ensure that their current lineups will not be harmed by movement elsewhere.
It’s a sticky situation and could spin out of control just as quickly as it could once again calm down.
If there’s one final thing I’ll emphasize (again) it’s that the Big 12 is happy at 10 teams but is not choosing not to be foolish this time around and won’t simply sit around and wait for the rest of the world to act. That does not mean the league will add BYU or Cincinnati just to expand, but it does mean it could give a serious look at some serious candidates, with Florida State being the top priority among them all.
Here are a few links for you to look over while I wait to hear back from some more folks. I’ll try to update this later today and throughout the week.
Here’s the latest from realignment guru Chip Brown at Orangebloods.com, who offers some great insight from the Texas point of view: http://texas.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1445262
The Pac-12 continues to stand by the claim that realignment is not on the horizon, but that’s largely because the league does not have as many attractive options as the others should it choose to expand. Here’s the latest from Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who recently said San Diego State and Boise State would be on the league’s list of candidates if it were to expand: http://www.pacifictakes.com/2012/12/4/3721260/conference-realignment-pac-12-boise-state-san-diego-bsu-sdsu
Most of this is common knowledge, but it’s laid out very nicely here: http://www.bloguin.com/crystalballrun/2012-articles/november/the-big-picture-of-conference-realignment.html
Finally, this is a couple of weeks old now (and, in realignment that’s ancient) but here’s what a member of Florida State’s board of trustees had to say recently regarding FSU’s plans: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2012/11/19/maryland-florida-state-fsu-trustee-andy-haggard-college-conference-expansion-realignment/1715537/
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby both hopeful and confident that calm has taken over conference realignment
Thursday afternoon, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby made a visit to Lawrence, one of 10 stops the new commish plans to make on conference campuses by the end of September.
It was refreshing to see the league commissioner stand in front of the room and not be peppered with questions about conference realignment, as had been the case during the past two summers.
This summer — after a questionable start — the realignment mess slowed down considerably, something that Bowlsby, the former athletic director at Stanford, Iowa and Northern Iowa, said was an encouraging sign for the future of college athletics.
“I don’t usually think much of hope as a strategy, but, on this occasion, I hope that it’s calmed down,” Bowlsby said. “We, we being intercollegiate athletics in general, would be well served by a period of calm. I think some very bad decisions have been made in conjunction with the conference moves and I think history will bear that out.”
For the Big 12, calm has not exactly been the right word. Although the panic and craziness of having teams poached or bringing new teams aboard has subsided, the league appears to have been busier than ever. From reworking its television deals with ESPN and FOX and creating the Champions Bowl with the SEC to continuing to push the league back into a positive light, Bowlsby’s plate has been plenty full during his first couple of months on the job.
With connections and constant contact with people across the country, Bowlsby said he believed that the more stable summer of 2012 could again become the norm for college athletics.
“I think we have a chance to have that,” he said. “But only one institution has to move before the dominoes begin to fall and that possibility is certainly out there.”
With that in mind, Bowlsby said the Big 12 would remain prepared for any and all possibilities.
“(Realignment) gets talked about at every conference meeting in every conference and we’ll have to talk about it, too,” he said. “But I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with 10 and I think it needs to be a very high bar if we’re gonna take anybody else in.”
Even though the Big 12 is not actively looking to expand, Bowlsby said he thought it was important for the league to be ready for anything.
“I think you have to have a plan for it, and the plan may be that we like where we’re at and we’re committed to it,” he said of the 10-team Big 12 set-up. “I think we’re closer to that than we are having some strategy or tactical expectation relative to expansion. We’ll likely talk about it at every meeting. I don’t think we’ll talk about it in terms of, ‘Here’s a candidate, should we take ’em or not?’ I think it’s, ‘How are we doing, how does this fit together, what kinds of relationships do we have and are we missing anything by not being 11 or 12 or something larger or are we gaining things by staying smaller?’ We think about it at a strategic level not at an individual decision level.”
If the past two summers were a necessary part of getting the Big 12 to where it stands today, it was worth it. In terms of stability, financial gain and public image, the league certainly appears to be stronger than ever. And with Bowlsby now at the helm, it also appears to have the necessary leadership to move into the next era of college athletics, whether that’s more change, a return to stability or some other path that we haven’t even considered yet.
Either way, Bowlsby seems to be up for the challenge and also projects a great amount of confidence and competence.
“I did come in with some apprehension,” he admitted. “There isn’t any doubt about that. But what I’ve found was the private reality was a lot more stable and a lot more unified than the private perception.... Everyone is forward-looking, everyone is committed and I think everybody is very genuinely enthusiastic about what it is we have going.”