Much has been written and said and much will be written and said about the current state of big time college athletics and the massive moves of conference reconfiguration which are still occurring.
When did this start, and who is responsible?
Three major moves jump out.
1. The Big East decision NOT include Penn State in the mix when the Nittany Lions were conference shopping 25 years ago. Of all the missteps made by Big East officials, this one remains the biggest.
2 The ACC’s move to expand 10 years ago when it raided the Big East and took Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College.
There was NO need for this move. The ACC was not threatened by ANYONE. It was a good, solid league in football and a premier league in basketball.
But once the move was made, it started a series of tremors which continue to rock college athletics.
3. The third move was not so much a move, but a decision. The Presidents decided they needed more involvement. Nice theory. Horrible performance. The Presidents have been horrendous. Moved by greed and naivety they have made and approved moves that boggle the mind.
With that as a backdrop, I decided to project what the landscape might have looked like if the Big East had taken Penn State.
Some moves, such as Notre Dame, eventually aligning with a conference are just wild guesses.
And then I project what the landscape will look like in five years under the current structure, with more moves still very likely.
Both set ups include a 5 or 6 Super Conference alignment of the major BCS football schools.
1. If Big East had taken Penn State.
Big East (12 teams)
Boston College, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Syracuse, Rutgers, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, Massachusetts, Central Florida, and South Florida.
A good Eastern block conference, with good rivals, all in the Eastern time zone. Throw in a basketball element of the Catholic schools and you could have a super 18 team conference in basketball as well, if you eliminate DePaul
ACC (12 teams)
1. Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Wake Forest, NC State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, East Carolina, Louisville and Cincinnati.
A solid 12 team league in football, all in one time zone, with good rivals and very good basketball.
SEC (12 teams)
1. Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina, LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida and Kentucky.
Great league in football and basketball, with a true geographic SE core and great rivals.
Big 12 (12 teams)
Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas Tech, TCU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, SMU.
Again, a compact league with great rivals, all in one time zone, a true mesh of the Big 8 and SWC.
Big Ten (12 teams)
Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa, Notre Dame, Nebraska
Great league in football, great league in basketball, great rivals, tradition. etc.
Pac 12 (12 teams)
1. Arizona, Arizona State, California, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, Colorado, Utah.
Perfect West Coast mix of schools with tradition and rivalries.
The way it could be in 2020
SUPER 66 PLUS 10
Big Ten (16 teams)
Iowa, Northwestern, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Penn State, Ohio State, Rutgers, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Nebraska, Georgia Tech, North Carolina
The Big Ten raid into the ACC continues with an invitation to Georgia Tech and a move Tinto the Big 12 where Kansas is targeted to join Maryland and Rutgers. The Big Ten television footprint is in the Midwest, the East and the South. Commissioner Jim Delany can retire with a Super conference which could pay as much as 40 million per team each year.
The 50 million exit fees of ACC teams? The Big Ten right now could write Maryland and the others a check for the amount and simply tell the Terps that for the first 10 years, you will only receive a check of 37 million each year, which is still more than double what they would be paid by the ACC.
The Big 12 (12 teams)
Tulsa, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Texas, TCU, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Baylor, Clemson and Florida State.
League expands footprint into the South, with two big time draws in FSU and Clemson. It also gets into the fertile Florida recruiting area and has enough teams to host a conference championship game.
SEC (14 teams)
Missouri, Texas A&M, Florida, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, LSU. South Carolina, Tennessee.
Status quo. Great league, No reason to change.
ACC (12 teams)
Louisville, Connecticut, Boston College, Notre Dame, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Duke, NC State, Wake Forest, Miami, Pittsburgh and Syracuse.
Losing North Carolina, Maryland and Georgia Tech will be more than offset by the addition of Notre Dame which breaks down and joins as full member. Covers Atlantic seaboard from New England to Miami and into the Midwest. Not great, but very healthy.
Big East (12 teams
Memphis, UCF, USF, East Carolina, Tulane, SMU, Houston, UMass, Temple, Navy, Cincinnati and Army
More Conference USA than anything else (in fact, the Big East should sell the name to the Catholic 7 group with this scenario), but a fairly competitive and compact league.
There you have it, what might have been and what probably (for the most part) will be. You make the call, which was better–for everyone.
© 2013, Mark. All rights reserved.