What we know, don’t know, about expansion

After a weekend filled with travel, some fact, and whole bunch of speculation, here is where I think we are this Monday morning on the subject of conference expansion:

WHAT WE KNOW

1. Colorado (Pac-10) and Nebraska (Big Ten) have already left the Big 12. There is an offer on the table for Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State to move West and form the Pac-16. That would leave the Big 12 with five schools (Kansas, Kansas State, Missouori, Iowa State, Baylor) looking for new homes or trying to rebuild its league.

2. Texas A&M, showing a streak of independence, may not want to follow Big Brother Texas to the Pac-16. The Aggies want the Longhorns to know that they have options too: That’s why there is this flirtation with the SEC.  Texas A&M has played LSU and Arkansas over the years and culturally, some people in College Station feel it would be a better fit than playing on the Left Coast.

3. Various media reports had SEC commissioner Mike Slive in College Station, Texas, over the weekend. The SEC would not confirm this and commissioner Slive did not return a call seeking confirmation. But I do know this: Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne was not in College Station this weekend. He was at a family gathering in Idaho.

4. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has huddled with his television partners and come up with a plan to hold the 10 remaining members of his conference together. It would guarantee a lot more television revenue with a new deal and Texas would get to start its own network, something it may not be able to do in the Pac-16. It makes sense.  ESPN is just got out of one bidding war with FOX for the ACC television package. Would the Worldwide Leader want to get into another one for the newly-created Pac-16? It is in ESPN’s interest to do what’s necessary to hold the rest of the Big 12 together. And if that means putting a bunch of extra money on the table, so be it.  Beebe, I have it on pretty good authority, will not be at this week’s meetings of the conference commissioners out in California. He will be busy trying to save his conference. 

5. We should get a lot of clarity this week: The Texas and Texas Tech board of regents meet on Tuesday to discuss this. Oklahoma’s board of regents meets Wednesday. But, as SI.com’s Andy Staples reports, the Higher Education Committee of the Texas State House will hold hearings on Wednesday. Under the proposal on the table, the Pac-16 would invite all of the Texas schools in the Big 12 but Baylor.  Remember that Texas Governor Ann Richards pulled out her guns to get Baylor (her alma mater) into the Big 12 back in the early 90s. Their ain’t no mix like Texas politics and football. Could Baylor get shoe-horned into the Pac-16 if that is the only way to get the deal done?

FIVE THINGS WHAT WE DON’T KNOW

1. Would the SEC take Texas A&M without Oklahoma? Normally you want a traveling partner when you seek to change conference affiliation. Could Slive make the case to Oklahoma that it doesn’t need  to follow Texas? Not sure about that. OU athletics director Joe Castiglione has made it pretty clear that his school is linked with Texas.

2. If Texas A&M goes to the SEC, would that throw a lifeline to Kansas to the Pac-16?  The Jayhawks and their proud basketball tradition have been treated like the ugly cousin nobody talks to at the family reunion. But if Texas A&M goes to the SEC, the idea of a yearly basketball game (or two) between Kansas and UCLA might be appealing. But what if the Texas politicians strong-arm Baylor into the Pac-10 instead? That would be a bitter pill for Kansas to swallow.

3. If the Texas exodus to the Pac-10 does not happen, does that throw a lifeline to Utah to be the 12th member? Don’t get me wrong, but I don’t see where the Pac-10 has really upgraded (at least from a TV numbers standpoint) if Colorado and Utah are the only teams that come on board.

4. What will Texas do? Despite all the reports that Texas to the Pac-10 is a done deal, school officials insisted over the weekend that all options are still on the table. It can stay in a Big 12 that has only 10 teams but a whole lot of new money (which it will get a larger chunk of) or it can go West. But understand this. All of these schools that don’t want to be seen as following Texas are basically going to have to get over it. “Texas is driving this bus,” a former coach in that part of the world told me. “Folks are going to have to get used to that.”

5. Will the Big Ten stop at 12? If you’re an SEC fan, this is the conference you should be watching. Even if there is a Pac-16 with Texas and Oklahoma in it, I don’t think the SEC will feel compelled to expand. And if the SEC gets Texas A&M and adds another school (insert your favorite team here) then it could stop at 14. That puts the SEC into the Texas market and makes their television package more valuable. That would be seen as a win for the SEC.

But if the Big Ten exercises the nuclear option and goes to 16, the SEC will have some intresting decisions to make. Under that scenario I once thought the SEC would look to the ACC. I no longer feel strongly that will be the case.

It’s going to be an interesting week folks. Stay tuned.

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554 comments Add your comment

George Gipp

June 14th, 2010
8:53 am

Are the Irish remaining independent?

TonyBFan

June 14th, 2010
8:55 am

It’s all about the money, so Memphis MUST be a player in any SEC plans. No mention of that Tony. Isn’t 10 mil a year a game changer?

Mikey in the SAV

June 14th, 2010
8:58 am

As always, just follow the money.

Joe Hachem

June 14th, 2010
9:02 am

Pass Duh Sugah!!

GeezusDawg

June 14th, 2010
9:03 am

TB, must be in a rush this AM – type-o’s.

Paul in RDU

June 14th, 2010
9:03 am

Tony – Looks like you are alluding to who really drives the changes in Div 1 CFB – the folks in Bristol, CT and their $$$. Before raiding the ACC, Slive would need to talk to the people at the World Wide Leader – they have a contract with the ACC as well as with the SEC.

TDave

June 14th, 2010
9:03 am

Tony, Memphis doesn’t bring anything new to the table for the SEC to consider sending them an invitation.

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
9:05 am

See Texags.com’s Aggie football forum for insightful and entertaining discussion about all of the A&M issues. It’s been heartwarming to see that the Aggies may finally be ready, willing, able, and committed to breaking away from the Horns. I think that A&M would be a great “get” for the SEC.

As to who the other “get” should be, it appears from several sites that Slive has been chatting with Oklahoma, and, believe it or not, UNC. Apparently, Slive’s ideal grouping if there’s an SEC16 to come out of this, is for UNC and Duke to join along with A&M and someone else (not likely Texas because the Horns diss the SEC), perhaps from among Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and FSU. It would be hard to rule out Missouri, Maryland, and Cincinnati from that list of possible 16th teams, because each would bring more TV eyeballs, and hence more $$$ to the pot. That seems to be why Clemson would not be a logical candidate. I take it that GT and FSU have burned SEC bridges and for those and no new “footprint” reasons would not be logical candidates — not to mention that UGa and UF wouldn’t want them. Miami would be a horrible choice, IMHO.

I hope the SEC stops at 14 teams, so that there’s just one additional division opponent, and one less cupcake-available open date on each team’s schedule. Some of the SEC teams schedule too many cupcakes as it is…..

Grey Ghost

June 14th, 2010
9:06 am

Since the Texas President, Dr. Powell is a University of California man, he has major interest and allegiance to the Pac-10. I wonder if the SEC and Commissioner Slive might bypass Texas and take A&M, Oklahoma, OSU, and Texas Tech, leaving Texas on an island with Colorado on the Far Left Coast?? Texas is the only school who really fits in with the Pacific coast, I can’t see the other schools getting all excited going to LA, Berkely, Eugene, Palo Alto, and Seattle versus going to Baton Rouge, Fayetteville, Starkeville, Oxford, and Tuscaloosa which would be more their style. Texas A&M and Oklahoma would also benefit from a recruiting standpoint being in the SEC rather than the PAC 10.

But as you said maybe the Big 12 will work out their TV revenue deal to obtain bigger numbers.

CW

June 14th, 2010
9:08 am

One school that might make an interesting option for the SEC is Louisville. Although their football program is still a bit down right now, they have proven in the past that they can draw big crowds. They are an obvious rival for Kentucky and provide even more of a footprint into Big 10 territory than KY already provides.

Although there has been wide speculation about the SEC raiding the ACC, the only school I see interested in even exploring another conference would be Florida State. The North Carolina schools, Maryland, Ga Tech, UVA – these schools all value football, but really want to maintain some kind of balance with basketball, baseball and other non-revenue sports. After years of trying to get back to the top of the heap in the ACC in football, Clemson isn’t about to join a league where they have to play the likes of Florida, LSU, Alabama, Auburn etc. on a regular basis.

CW

June 14th, 2010
9:13 am

fb fan, do you really think Duke is a good fit for the SEC? Why would Slive & Co. want a weaker football program than Vandy to join the SEC? Duke and UNC aren’t going to leave the ACC. Historically, it is THEIR conference. Neither of these schools are going to a league where basketball is seen as an afterthought.

Grey Ghost

June 14th, 2010
9:13 am

I don’t know why some of you all keep trying to include ACC teams in the expansion discussion. It’s not going to happen. Virginia Tech and UNC cannot leave because of strong state politics and ties. Plus as one viewer appropriately said, ESPN does not want one of their deals messed with.

sam

June 14th, 2010
9:14 am

It seems everyone, even the fans for some reason, are concerned with league t.v. markets. I can understand the fans wanting a strong league but at the end of the day, I’m a Georgia fan, not a SEC fan. I don’t know why fans and alumni are caught up in this fantasy football type of draft of college teams. The SEC is great the way it is. I couldn’t care less about adding t.v. markets, I care about Georgia keeping it’s traditions, winning the SEC and having a shot at the BCS title year in and year out.

ryan

June 14th, 2010
9:15 am

If the Big 12 stays together, which I think is most likely, you know that Nebraska and Colorado are going to be freaking out.

That $10 million penalty for leaving the conference won’t be fun.

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
9:18 am

CW – I only know that I have seen reports that Slive has already approached UNC, who reportedly has listened and not said no, and that Duke is reported to be the team that Slive wants to invite with UNC if this all ends up with an SEC16. If you look at those two schools, their TV eyeballs not just in NC but throughout the country, not to mention their geographical locations and recruiting backyards, you can see why Slive could very well have determined that they are the best possible fits for the SEC. Neither’s addition would reasonably tick off any current SEC member, which can’t be said for Louisville (no new eyeballs), FSU (UF would not like), Miami (ditto), or Clemson (UGa and USC would not like).

ATL Gator

June 14th, 2010
9:19 am

The only way expansion works is with new TV markets. New TV markets = new revenue. So, beyond Tex A&M (which brings the SEC into the DFW and HOU markets – both top 10), it has to be an untapped territory. Memphis (SEC already there – Ole Miss and ARK), FSU/UM (UF routinely beats FSU and UM games ratings wise already in the 3 large FL TV markets) Clem (none of the TV markets in SC are Top 30 – the only that would be a possibility would be Charlotte (#26 TV market).

Logically then, the options appear to be Mizzou (delivers the St Louis market – #21)or the NC schools (RDU is the #29 market.)

P-Man

June 14th, 2010
9:19 am

So nice to see a true discussion going on instead of the usual “Georgia Sux/Tech Sux/Bama Sux/etc” garbage we usually see.

I think all this is Texas just trying to get the Big 12 to give it more money and allow it to make it’s own TV deal. I don’t care much for Texas’ “A&M better come with us or we won’t play them anymore” attitude.

Interesting how the Big 12 may have 10 teams and the Big 10 have 12!

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
9:20 am

I should have added the no-brainer that adding UNC and Duke would, not irrelevantly, instantly make the SEC one of if not the best basketball conferences (especially if the Big East implodes, as seems increasingly likely).

5IML

June 14th, 2010
9:20 am

CW,

Clemson would also be a good fit in the SEC. I’m not sure that they’d actually add value to the league, but they are an SEC-type school.

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
9:21 am

P-Man,

Someone pointed out last week that for about 24 hours (after CU accepted the Pac10 bid and before Nebraska accepted the Big10 bid), the Pac10, Big12, and Big10 each had 11 teams, and that after NU joined the Big10, the Big10 had 12 teams and the Big12 had 10 teams. Crazy week in sports!

Paul in RDU

June 14th, 2010
9:23 am

There is no way that UNC and Duke will go to the SEC. Aside from the academic snobbery of both schools and their alumni bases there are other political issues. UNC and Duke have highly ranked programs and are bitter rivals in a whole bunch of non-revenue sports so you have to offer both. UNC isn’t going anywhere without NC State – the folks in the State House in Raleigh will be receiving phone calls from Jim Goodnight if UNC looks to leave NCSU.

BIRDDAWGONE

June 14th, 2010
9:24 am

Tony, do you think that there is a chance, when all thing are said and done the the Big (what ever number) up north will end-up the third strongest football conference (while the richest)?

BIRDDAWGONE

June 14th, 2010
9:24 am

ryan

June 14th, 2010
9:28 am

TV markets only matter to the Big Ten, because they have their own cable network and need to increase distribution. Because in cable, the more distribution you have, the more license fees you receive from cable operators.

For everyone else, it’s about the matchups.

Take Rutgers for example. That would get the Big Ten distribution into the nation’s largest market. More households = more license fees from cable operators.

But if say, the SEC were to pick up Rutgers or Houston for the TV markets, nobody would care, because ESPN is already nationally distributed, and they care more about the advertising revenue.

Nobody would watch South Carolina vs. Houston just because Houston is in the top ten TV markets. Nobody gives a crap. They just want to see a good game.

And nobody would watch Maryland vs. Rutgers, just because DC and NJ/NY are large TV markets.

And the only reason the SEC needs to expand is if a 16 team conference is successful in getting two automatic qualifying bids, because that is gauranteed revenue. At that point, you’ve got to get your hand in the pot, too.

That’s it. That’s all that matters.

XpatHeel

June 14th, 2010
9:29 am

Tony, About time you finally realized the ACC doesn’t need or want to be hooked up w/ the $EC. From a pure fans’ perspective, there could be some interesting matchups and divisional groupings if there were some ACC teams added into your group. And there could be added media money if you got into NC and Md. But, as I’ve said all along, it aint happenin’.

Tony Barnhart

June 14th, 2010
9:29 am

There is money, and then there is money with strings attached. I cannot envision a scenario where Memphis “buys” its way in the SEC. That’s why I didn’t mention it. Now Memphis could buy their way into the Big East, assuming that there is a Big East left when the music stops.

TB

5IML

June 14th, 2010
9:30 am

If the Big East survives the carnage, they need to take a serious look at Memphis.

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
9:31 am

sam -

I like the SEC the way it is, too, but Slive’s job is to look out for the long-term future of the SEC, so he has to be pro-active in taking A&M now, when the Aggies are available, and another team to get the SEC to 14. If he thinks this is all going to end up with four or five 16 team superconferences, then he has to have his 15th and 16th team addition chart of desirables, too.

The whole thing is for the SEC not to be left at 12 when everyone else is at 16, having taken the best possible SEC expansion candidates, and leaving the SEC with leftovers.

Why? Because of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$, simple as that. And … the leverage that comes with that money. See the many discussions of how the Pac16 pipe dream is NOT to have a playoff, but automatic BCS bids for each of its two divisions. The SEC would not want that kind of “in” to be granted to the Pac16, unless, of course, the SEC could get the same, but that would likely require the SEC to also have 16 teams…..

As Tony writes, the SEC can’t afford to let the Big10, in particular, end up with a much, much larger share of the money than the SEC.

And remember another thing, this might all be a process to get to where there is no BCS, but rather an 8 or 10 team tournament, with two teams “qualifying” from each of the four or five 16-team superconferences. In that scenario, the NCAA itself may be bypassed altogether for football, which would please the football superpower schools immensely….

Anyway, stay tuned, but not with your head in the sand. Slive appears to be looking out for the SEC, if reports of his weekend travels to College Station and perhaps Norman are correct.

TommyJack

June 14th, 2010
9:31 am

I could see Texas in the Pac10. If you’ve ever lived in Texas, you know that Austin is Berkley East.

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
9:33 am

TONY – have you heard anything about the Slive overtures/intros/discussions/etc. concerning UNC and Duke?

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
9:36 am

CW – you ask about Duke coming with UNC. If that’s the deal Slive needs to make to get UNC in an SEC16 scenario, then he’d make it, I think, and the SEC would thank him for doing so.

Speaking as a fan of UGa, it’d be great to have Duke on the schedule every year, so if an SEC16 went to 4-team pods within its two divisions, then I’d want UGa to have Duke in its pod, wouldn’t you???

sam

June 14th, 2010
9:41 am

“The love of money is the root of all evil” Chasing the almighty dollar will foul up college football six ways from sunday.

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
9:42 am

Paul in RDU –

Think about it. With Texas and A&M facing the possibility of being in two separate conferences, there’s nothing other than hurt pride on the part of one team that would keep it from scheduling the other in football and other sports. The same would be true for NCState and Wake if UNC and Duke were to be in an SEC16. It would be especially easy to schedule those traditional rivals in hoops, as out of conference (think December) opponents. I truly doubt that any of those four teams would feel a great need to keep playing football against each other every year. Do you?

ryan

June 14th, 2010
9:42 am

Memphis might have had a better chance at getting a BCS conference invite had the $10 million offer not been made in public. Now, it just looks sleazy and desperate.

T3

June 14th, 2010
9:42 am

I’ll offer up an idea that NO ONE,
not even the dubious “Mr. College Football” has evn considered…

The BIG12 should replace Colorado and Nebraska
with Arizona and Arizona State.

The BIG12 could offer AZ & AZST vastly greater somes
of TV money than the PAC10 could ever even hope to offer,
now or in the future.

And,let’s be serious for a moment.

The states of California and Arizona are…IN ALL ASPECTS…BANKRUPT.

The state of California is gutting public college spending, and so is Arizona. Anyone else see all the student protests at multipe California state universities over the issue.

AZ & AZST should realize that their ONLY LIFELINE is to attach themselves to a FINANCIALLY VIABLE conference, and that aint the PAC10.

It would be a takeover of the FIRST ORDER.

So, NOW that its been said, expect to see
“Mr. College Football” flap his gums over the airwaves.

BUt, remember, you heard it here FIRST.

Beast from the East

June 14th, 2010
9:43 am

I, for one, hope the Big 12 (10) can keep the conference together. They could add TCU, Houston, etc and keep their championship game. Let Texas start their own network. Then, like Tony said, who really cares what the heck the PacX does?

Dostoyevskiy

June 14th, 2010
9:43 am

You folks who keep talking about any of the old ACC members bolting for the SEC just have no feel for the ACC. Look, their is deep comraderie (sp) between those schools. It would be more likely that UGa and Alabama would move to the ACC, since they will do anything to advance their football programs. Not so in the ACC, they have loftier goals. The guy above is talking about the SEC talking to UNC is just “whistling in the dark”. Listen up buddy!

Pac 10 Rules

June 14th, 2010
9:45 am

We Rock! The SEC is backward while the Pac 10 is always 5 steps ahead of everyone else. There is your reason for Texas not wanting to join the SEC.

Shoryland

June 14th, 2010
9:45 am

Mizzou could be that companion for A&M, bringing the St. Louis and partial KC markets into the SEC fold:

http://shoryland.com/2010/06/conference-expansion-missouri-makes.html

Paul in RDU

June 14th, 2010
9:46 am

fbfan – the rumors on UNC and Duke going to the SEC are not coming out of the Triangle.
The local sports radio station – 99.9 – quoted an unnamed UNC official on Friday when asked about going to the SEC “we might not even answer the phone”.

The blog with the attached link pretty much sums up the attitude up here

http://www.tarheelfanblog.com/2010/06/as-the-dominos-fall-unc-duke-on-secs-dream-list/

Beast from the East

June 14th, 2010
9:46 am

T3,
Interesting thought, but I really don’t see anyone being foolish enough to leave the stability of the Pac10 to join the historically unstable Big12/SWC. Too much of a gamble long term. Texas is known to want to run things in their respective conference. No one needs all of that red tape unless you have no other options.

ryan

June 14th, 2010
9:46 am

I’ll expect unicorns and leprecauns to fall from the sky before you’ll ever see Duke or UNC leave the ACC.

That’s just dumb.

Thanks Tony

June 14th, 2010
9:49 am

Tony, Just a word of gratitude for sticking around to keep us informed about this frantic time when I know you had planned to be on vacation doing your “honey-do” list. Your keen insight and contacts within the business is appreciated.

Beast from the East

June 14th, 2010
9:49 am

Pac 10 Rules,
What does the Pac 10 rule in?
Certainly not any revenue sports.
Go back to your rainbow flag and sip your latte.
Men are talking here.

Paul in RDU

June 14th, 2010
9:49 am

fbfan – Do you really think that the politicians in Raleigh will let UNC and NCSU go to different conferences? Do you have any idea how things work up here? Do you even know who Jim Goodnight is? How about Erskine Bowles?

quedog

June 14th, 2010
9:51 am

Tony, does anyone know how T. Boone Pickens feels about Ok State being left out of the dance? His contribution, reportedly $100 million, should make him a player at his school and in the conference. Also, there must be plenty of Texas and Oklahoma money of sizable proportions wanting to be heard.

ryan

June 14th, 2010
9:52 am

More nonsense regarding TV markets…

Everyone says it would be great to add St. Louis through Missouri, but that you don’t need Miami because you have Florida? Everyone really think that everyone in Miami is watching the Gators and not the Hurricanes?

Eh, it’s just dumb. If you add a school like FSU or Miami, you’d have eyeballs all over the country watching.

Now, that being said, I’d rather not have either one, but only because FSU is on the decline and Miami is dirty.

Big Dawg

June 14th, 2010
9:53 am

“greater somes of TV money”

hilarious

PMC

June 14th, 2010
9:53 am

I just think the ACC should start thinking about becoming THE basketball conference, offer Kansas, Syracuse, Pitt… etc. An All ACC final 4 would be possible.

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
9:54 am

ryan -

Your comment about TV markets only mattering in the Big10 does not hold water. From what I read and hear, the SEC’s deals with CBS and ESPN can (and would) both be reopened in the event of new schools in the SEC, and repriced according to new TV eyeballs/footprints that the new schools would bring. Hence the likelihood that whatever SEC expansion that does occur will not be within its current “footprint,” That is, no SEC bids for Louisville, GeorgiaTech, FSU, Miami, and Clemson.

That means that Slive’s list of possible expansion candidates is likely limited to the following:

A&M (which appears likely to join the SEC this week)

UNC (with Duke probably at UNC’s insistence)

VaTech (perhaps with UVa, but what I read leads me to believe that tie is not required)

Oklahoma (a great “get” if it would do it)

And lesser possibilities:

Missouri (St. Louis and KC TV markets, great quality school, borders 3 SEC states)

Kansas (further out, but stronger in KC TV market than Mizzou, and also a great quality school)

Cincy (a diamond in the rough, would be a great rival for UK, and would also get the SEC not only a bunch of new TV eyeballs, but fertile Ohio recruiting grounds – don’t think UK and UT wouldn’t especially love that)

Maryland (great school, TV markets in Baltimore and DC, but further away – would be a good add if VaTech is added) (however, Maryland is much more likely to be in super Big10, and appears to be next on Big10’s radar)