New York—Had a fun night covering the first round of the draft. There were a lot of surprises but Tim Tebow going in the first round to Denver certainly had to be at the top of the list. It was a good night for the SEC (with seven picks) and ACC (four picks).
But it’s Friday which means all of us have permission today to go a little off the wall. So here is my contribution to the effort.
If the Big Ten expands to 16 teams, which is certainly a possibility, everyone in the business I’ve spoken to agrees a series of dominoes will fall that will completely alter the landscape of college football and college athletics.
What follows is simply an exercise in speculation. All of it may happen. Some of it may happen. None of it may happen. Judge for yourself. Feel free to add your own expansion scenarios. But I believe the expansion dominoes will fall something like this:
BIG TEN: The Big Ten never asks formally, but Notre Dame says no, no, a thousand times no to joining the Big Ten. So the Big Ten decides on a scorched-Earth policy and goes to 16 teams. It takes Syracuse, Rutgers, and Pittsburgh from the Big East to grow its footprint to the East. Then it adds Missouri and Nebraska from the Big 12 to grow to the West. A whole bunch of new people now want to subscribe to the Big Ten Network. That’s the idea.
BIG EAST: Having been raided for the second time in this decade, the Big East decides to get out of the football business. The seven Catholic schools that don’t play Division I-A football (DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Villanova, Seton Hall, St. John’s) go off to form their own basketball league. They offer Notre Dame a place to play men’s basketball so that the Irish can remain a football independent. Connecticut, South Florida, West Virginia, Louisville and Cincinnati begin looking for a home.
SEC: Calls Texas and the Longhorns decide to stay put. The SEC decides the best way to compete with the Big Ten is to put a lock on the South. So it takes Clemson, Florida State, Miami, and Georgia Tech from the ACC. Now the new SEC looks like this:
New East Division: Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida, Florida State, Miami, South Carolina, Clemson, Tennessee.
New West Division: Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Vanderbilt.
ACC: After losing four teams, the league goes back to its basketball roots and adds West Virginia and Connecticut in order to make it’s men’s basketball tournament a marquee event again. There will be a fight about taking South Florida because the ACC doesn’t want to give up that state as part of its footprint. There will also be a fight about going back to 12 teams because the strongest schools in the league, Duke and North Carolina, still don’t like being in a conference that big because they believe it dilutes the basketball product.
BIG 12: After losing Nebraska and Missouri to the Big Ten, this league taps former Southwest Conference members TCU and SMU to further lock up the Dallas market. They will pick up the phone and ask Arkansas if they want to come back. Arkansas will say no because the money it makes in the SEC will be significantly more than in the Big 12.
Louisville and Cincinnati go back to Conference USA. Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino is not happy.
PAC-10: Looks at the landscape and the options on the table for expansion and decides to do nothing. But the league does petition the NCAA for the right to go to divisional play and hold a conference championship game with only 10 teams. The ACC will support this move because it may want to do the same thing.
After the smoke clears we still have 10 Division I-A conferences but the Big Ten and SEC have further separated themselves from the pack financially.
What do you think?
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