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

Anonymous

June 15th, 2010
8:19 am

BuLLdawg, dude, it’s time to switch to decaf!

Hank

June 15th, 2010
10:55 am

The few teams who could compete in the SEC will not come because they would not be the big fish any longer. Texas could have made more money and have its own TV revenue but, the schedule would be to much for their opinion of themselves. Oklahoma is the only bump between them and the BCS as they know. Other conferences thought we were crazy for expanding and having a conference champion 20 years ago but, the result of our foresight is 4 national championships in a row. The Big 10 has been humiliated into following our lead kicking and screaming. The talking heads in Bristol, primarily Big 10 alums, have reluctantly admitted their conference has lost the aire of superiority they were sniffing for so long. SC has been castrated, the remainder of the conference pales in comparison, the ACC champ cannot beat a mid level SEC team, the Big East is comparable to the WAC but, not as good. So I guess when all the dust settles nothing will have changed. The SEC champ will still be in the NC game and everyone else is maneuvering for second place. All this crap about academics and endowments sounds like talk for losers.

OB-1

June 15th, 2010
1:31 pm

Dostoyevskiy and Atlanta Gator,
Atlanta Gator as regards your June 14th, 2010, 6:28 pm post you were incorrect in saying 4 of the top 5 were private as UNC is actually the 3rd ACC school ahead of BC, Wake, and GT which is listed as a public school also ahead of UF. UNC is ranked ahead of UF. US News reports that UVA is tied with UCLA for 2nd, UNC at 5th, GT at 7th, while UF is ranked 15th tied with Penn State and Texas with Maryland tied at 18th with Ohio State. UGA falls in at 21st right in front of Clemson at 22nd. The next SEC school would then be Auburn tied at 39 with only FSU behind them at 48th. Where student body size does have an effect, the real reason is the academic requirements that the schools have.

Dostoyevskiy,
It might also interest you to know that UVA and UNC were also listed as public schools comparable to the Ivy League Schools in academics and total feel of the campus and no SEC school was in the original list of eight, same number as the Ivy League schools, later it was expanded to 30 which added of Maryland and UF to that number. Duke and Vanderbilt were not listed as they are private and GT was an honorable mention.

Also another reason that FSU did not join the SEC was the fact they wanted to improve their basketball program and felt that by competing in the ACC would accomplish that.

Hank,
I would take a number of the ACC football teams over most of the SEC. The SEC is very top heavy with UF, Bama, and UGA, after them much of the SEC is beatable any given year. Auburn haven’t heard from them in a few years as LSU, Arkansas, UTenn, and the other USC. UF, Bama, and most years UGA are the class and would rank in anyone’s top 10 nationally. The rest are in any given year a top 25 team but not top 10.

Atlanta Gator

June 15th, 2010
7:02 pm

OB-1—-

I was quoting the US News national universities rankings, including both public and private, not the public-universities-only list. That having been said, I did screw up the order among Boston College, Wake Forest and UNC. Sorry about that.

The larger point remains, however. Vanderbilt would be the second-ranked school overall in a combined ACC-SEC, and Florida would be the fourth-ranked public school after UVa, UNC and Georgia Tech. UGA would fit very nicely, too, once they get past the whole UGA-GT food fight. UGA tops Clemson, NSCU, Virginia Tech and FSU. Auburn edges NCSU and FSU, and Alabama tops FSU. Bottom line: at least five SEC schools fall within the spectrum of the current academic rankings of the ACC.

Furthermore, the size of the student body does matter. With fairly elementary use of statistics, and assuming a standard normal distribution, I can easily show that Florida has an equal or greater number of top students than any of Virginia, North Carolina or Georgia Tech. Anecdotally, the fact that Florida has more National Merit Scholars than any of three is somewhat telling in and of itself. Florida is almost twice the size of UNC, over twice the size of UVa, and two and half times the size of Georgia Tech. If you don’t think those extra 22,000, 26,000 and 30,000 students pull the average high school GPA and SATs down relative to those of UVa, UNC and Tech, you don’t understand much about the mathematics and statistics of public university admissions.

Here are the ten largest single-campus public universities:

1. Arizona State

2. Ohio State

3. Central Florida

4. Minnesota

5. Texas

6. Florida

7. Texas A&M

8. Michigan State

9. South Florida

10. Penn State

Note that none are ranked above Florida in the US News rankings; Penn State and Texas are tied, even though their admissions criteria are marginally easier. Logically, if you combined UVa and Virginia Tech, or UNC and NCSU, or UGA and GT, to create a university of the size of Florida, what do you think would happen to the average freshman GPA and SAT scores? Please use that ACC education of yours, and think.