ACC, Big 10, Big East, Boise State, BYU, Clemson, Florida State, Houston, Maryland, Miami, Missouri, Mountain West, Notre Dame, Pac 12, Pittsburgh, realignment, Rutgers, SEC, Syracuse, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech
As many of you have probably heard, Texas A&M is embroiled (that’s probably not the right word, because for them this is potentially a good thing… for everyone in the Big 12 it might be the right word) in rumors that they could be bolting from the Big 12 to the SEC.
No one has made any significant comments on it, but once again we’re faced with the possibility of massive college realignment. The Big 10 has made its play by taking Nebraska into the fold, but they still have the potential to add a couple more big schools to the mix. Big Catholic schools. The only reason they’d consider such a move is if the SEC expands its stranglehold on the college landscape. If Texas A&M heads to the South Eastern Conference it will do several things.
1. It will finally justify Dallas still being located in the NFC East in the NFL because now two Texas football programs will be in Eastern division/conferences.
2. It will mean the SEC will also need to bring in another school, expanding their number to 14.
A&M brings a decently strong football program to the table, a rising basketball program, and a Texas market that would now be focused on the rest of the SEC as well. Supposedly, the SEC would consider adding other Big 12 school Missouri, or either Clemson or Virginia Tech from the ACC. I would surmise that Miami and Florida State could be potential pickups; while they wouldn’t widen the SEC base, they provide for a lot of national talk due to the state rivalries that would pick up heat.
If A&M were to head, the Big 12 would be in another pickle. The only reason Texas didn’t head to the Pac 12 was because they couldn’t decide on a revenue sharing system that incorporated the Texas TV channel. Most likely, Texas would pull the Big 12 together again and attempt to lure mid-level players TCU, Boise State, Houston, and BYU into the conference to fill in the holes left. TCU could be tough to pull out of the Big East, unless another ripple happens to make them more hesitant about sticking around.
What could ripple the Big East? If the Big 10 looks at the SEC’s bid for 14 or 16 teams and begins to feel like the runt of the NCAA landscape again. If that’s the case, expect them to go running to Notre Dame again, as well as former rumored candidates for inclusion – Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Maryland, and Rutgers. They’d want two or four more schools to again rival the SEC and while some of those are more likely than others, it would be hard to turn down a move to the Big 10 from any of those remaining four.
If the Big East is ravaged by the Big 10, expect the ACC to attempt to acquire some pieces, either to replace a defecting Clemson, VT, Miami or Florida State, or simply to bolster their numbers in light of the 3 super conferences across the nation. Likewise, the Pac 10 may again consider including Boise State and any other Big 12 schools they could potentially poach.
The conclusion could lead to four super conferences – Big 10, Pac ##, SEC, and ACC. As the strongest four, they would command the most draw to add members. Meanwhile, everyone left in the dust would have to find a home. I would expect to see one or two conferences spring up. Likely the Mountain West could pull a couple big schools in and create a Midwest Conference that would be considered solid, and the Big East could pull smaller DI and DII schools into the fold and maintain its existence.
The only other option, as I see it, would be for the Big 12 to quickly gather as many prestigious small schools to ensure the continuation of the conference.
Exciting, I know. I’d certainly be in favor of a four massive conferences. It would make a playoff system so much easier. Imagine 6-8 team playoff, 4 conferences with automatic bids and 2 – 4 wildcards (probably selected by the BCS system).
The other option, simply as it is, is for another shift as happened before. SEC makes its play, but the Big 10 and Pac 12 stand on their recent acquisitions. The only changes then would be the Big 12 replacing A&M plus the likely replacement of a 2nd SEC addition.
Right now, it’s too soon to tell which way it’ll fall. I’m certainly leaning towards chaos. It’s the best chance for an overhaul of the NCAA and a playoff system in college football. Even if the lesser option occurs, don’t expect the conferences to stay stable for long. The instability of the NCAA and College Football in particularly seems to be teetering on the brink without any signs of relief.