Really? You want to make sense of all the expansion and realignment in college sports?
Good luck with that.
Even the most connected of college football insiders are trying to put together the shredded papers to create a clear picture as all the rumors, reports, and tidbits fly around. So read this at your own risk – there’s a solid chance this all blows up five minutes from now.
I’m prepared for everything below to soon look totally ridiculous because nothing appears to be off the table.
The Big 12 getting Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF was obvious, but seriously, Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC? Last summer that seemed insane, and then it hit like a ton of bricks. That was nothing compared to the failure of imagination – and the shock – of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten.
And how about the Sun Belt being the most proactive league of the bunch with Marshall, Old Dominion, and Southern Miss being snagged from Conference USA?
So be warned, while everything below is rooted in reality to some extent … nah. It’s all changing by the moment.
With all that said, what’s going on in realignment? What are the best and worst case scenarios for all the conference expansion options, what’s a crazy idea that might work for each one, and what’s about to happen – maybe?
Let’s do this.
What’s Going On? Nothing at the moment, but the rumors are flying. The SEC is supposedly interested, and the Big Ten isn’t saying anything – but would LOVE North Carolina. Even so, everything appears to be fine … for now.
Best Case Scenario: The ACC vastly improves its long-term media deal, ends its friends with benefits relationship with Notre Dame and puts a ring on it, and gives some thought to West Virginia joining the fun.
Worst Case Scenario: ESPN – or some crafty lawyer – figures out how to blow up the horrible grant of rights deal that locks the schools into their football media deal until 2036, and the SEC and Big Ten have have an epic battle to see who can get North Carolina, and Clemson, Florida State, and Miami.
Crazy Idea That Won’t Work, But … READ … THE … ROOM. What did the Big Ten just do? It raided the Pac-12 to go coast-to-coast with its footprint. Who might be out there right now for the taking? Cal and Stanford.
Again, it’s crazy, but academically those two are rock stars, they make it very, very attractive for Notre Dame to join the fun, and even though college football interest is, well, fickle in the Bay Area, it’s still a monster market to totally own.
What Will Probably Happen: The ACC will stay in place as is, but that won’t keep everyone from trying to figure out how to steal the star schools.
It’ll be in discussions with the Big 12 and Pac-12 to try forming an alliance to combat the Big Ten and SEC menaces. In the meantime, it’ll look to improve the current media deal and won’t just sit by and wait for the inevitable defections from schools desperate to leave for more revenue.