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

GeezusDawg

June 14th, 2010
10:01 am

Duke and UNC ???????????

It will not happen – they will raid the Big East and rebuild the ACC if necessary. There is NO WAY either of those schools leave what is effectively their conference.

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
10:02 am

Paul in RDU -

You talk NC politics. See the Texags.com football forum for an educational primer on how the once-similarly-popular position about Texas politics appears to have crumbled over the past week, with A&M determined to go its own way, and, the week before, Baylor being re-educated about how the new superconference world and its $$$$$ has trumped old-style-politics.

The point is this: if the SEC goes to 16 teams, and the SEC wants the last two to join to be UNC and Duke, there would be SO MUCH MORE MONEY available to those schools that the NC politicians would be trumped by that reality. Now, might they try to substitute NCState (the other public university among the four NC schools in the ACC) for Duke (a private school)? Perhaps. But they might not fare well in doing so … see Baylor in all the post-Big12 discussions….

James Street

June 14th, 2010
10:03 am

GeezusDawg

June 14th, 2010
10:04 am

fbfan,
You obviously do not live in NC.

Pac 10 Rules

June 14th, 2010
10:04 am

@ T3…….

Endowment: Stanford $12.6 Billion….
UC Berkley $2.34 Billion….
USC $2.34 Billion……
UCLA $1.88 Billion…..
ASU $407 million….
AZ $ 519 million…..

Now compare that to the SEC. LOL…….Stanford alone has more cash on hand than the whole SEC put together!!!!! =]

ryan

June 14th, 2010
10:06 am

Which teams would advertisers rather spend their money on?

Rutgers or Oklahoma?
Northwestern or Alabama?
Houston or Florida State?
Tulane or Nebraska?
Vanderbilt or West Virginia?

TV markets are irrelevant if you have the best teams.

VA DAWG

June 14th, 2010
10:08 am

The only two that make any sense are A&M and VaTech……D-FW and DC TV Markets along with loyal college football fan bases. College football is the driving force behind all of this, just look at UK for example….their football program generates more money than their “crazy” loyal basketball program.

VA DAWG

June 14th, 2010
10:11 am

By the way, UNC is not leaving Duke, NCSU or Wake behind……if one comes, they all are coming. Similar to that of the Tx schools, except there is not an A&M in that bunch.

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
10:11 am

James Street -

The Aggies would be fools to be in a 10 team Big12, which, as outlined, would still bring them less money than the SEC, and in which Texas would be allowed to continue to garner more % of the $$$ than everyone else, especially if it started a Texas network, as the Beebe plan would allow.

I hope the Aggies say good riddance to UT and join up with the SEC.

Ric Flair

June 14th, 2010
10:11 am

VA Dawg – you can’t get VT without UVA.

ryan

June 14th, 2010
10:13 am

fbfan, just because you have a school that’s near a large local TV market doesn’t mean you automatically have more viewers.

I think that’s the point you’re missing.

Adding FSU to your lineup will get you far more national viewers than by adding a Missouri.

You’d have better luck renegotiating the TV deal based on potential matchups.

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
10:14 am

To all:

I’ve never said that I think UNC and Duke are the best possible 15th and 16th teams for an SEC16, only that they are reported to be Slive’s two choices if it gets to that.

I would rather have an SEC14, with A&M and VT as the two new teams, and leave it at that. That seems even more likely to be a good solution for the near term, given today’s news that Texas appears to have decided to be part of a Big12-2, whether A&M joins the SEC or not.

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
10:15 am

ryan -

As I understand it, FSU had a bid to join the SEC when it instead chose the ACC, because BobbyB knew his teams could dominate the ACC, but not the SEC. That’s akin to GT leaving the SEC. In addition, from what I understand, UF would never want to add FSU or Miami, thus leaving Florida as the only in-state school for that fertile recruiting ground, and UGa would never want to add GT, for similar reasons.

ryan

June 14th, 2010
10:19 am

I was using FSU as a hypothetical.

They’re not coming here.

5IML

June 14th, 2010
10:20 am

I wonder if journalists are the sources of these SEC/UNC/Duke rumors.

GeezusDawg

June 14th, 2010
10:23 am

The point is that (believe it of not) there are some schools that do not care about TV revenue and football. UNC and Duke fall into that category. Everyone seems to think adding schools to a conference is like walking down the aisle at the supermarket … it’s not.

Kansas to the ACC???? I’m sure they enjoy their long Atlantic coastline in Kansas.

Tony Barnhart

June 14th, 2010
10:24 am

Chip Brown has done the best job of reporting on this story. If this one is true, it changes everything because the Big 12 will stay together.

http://texas.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1094038

SOGADOG

June 14th, 2010
10:26 am

Fan support is a factor that has not received much attention in the realignment decision for Texas. A team’s most loyal fans want to travel to away games. It wont be feasable for Texas and the other Big 12-2 fans whose teams join the Pac 10 + 1 to travel to the West coast for games. Fan support has to be a factor and I imagine the fans and big boosters are giving the Big 12-2 commissioner an earful about the prospect of having to travel to Washington, Oregon and California for away games. I predict the Big 12 – 2 remains intact and adds two new teams if the powers that be listen to the fans instead of the TV networks and accountants.

im4bama

June 14th, 2010
10:28 am

All I know is that am anxious to see how it all shakes out and who the SEC invites. The rumor of the SEC going after UNC and Duke is surprising, but when you think about Basketball in the SEC, instead of football, then is makes sense. Adding those two would really give the SEC basketball some teeth. Let’s face it, SEC football is already tough enough and we don’t need a OU or Texas to make the road that much tougher for all involved and trust me, OU and Texas don’t want any of the SEC schedule either. What if the SEC expanded to 16 and we also invited Kansas and A&M, you would have Kansas, Kentucku, UNC and Duke in our own little final four. We would have the best teams for winning National Championships in football and basketball. Now that would be impressive and something tells me that’s what ole sly Slive’s angle is.

Beast from the East

June 14th, 2010
10:30 am

ESPN is just reporting that 4 Big 12 sources are reporting that A&M is coming to the SEC and the other 4 are going to the PAC 10. Said Beebe failed to convinve them all to hold it together.

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
10:31 am

TONY -

Chip Brown is the Horns’ mouthpiece, and some of his reporting has been way off (see, e.g., Nebraska never leaving for Big10, and his early reporting that the Pac16 raid of Big12South minus Baylor plus Colorado was a done deal, when it clearly wasn’t because A&M was not on board).

The proposed Big12-2 would screw A&M even worse than it’s now screwed (along with other Big12 members), because it favors the Horns even more than the old Big12 deal did, in which the Horns had greatly disproportionate power and $$$.

So … please take Chip Brown’s posts with several grains of salt, because of his bias and his past errors in reporting (e.g., see just yesterday when he reported that A&M had turned down the Pac10 invite, only to have to run a correction later in the day when A&M made it clear that no such turn-down had happened).

ATL Gator

June 14th, 2010
10:31 am

Orangebloods.com now reporting that UT may be staying put. Utah will become the 12th team in the Pac-10.

Beast from the East

June 14th, 2010
10:32 am

Typo….should be convince not convinve.

volky

June 14th, 2010
10:34 am

If the SEC cannot get OU, would Missouri & Texas A&M be a viable option? Missouri already borders 3 SEC states and would give the St. Louis & Kansas City TV markets.

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
10:35 am

I should have added that the Big12-2 looks like a go for all but A&M, who would logically be replaced by TCU, as if logic had anything to do with it.

As a CUBuff alum, I’d love the Big12-2 to happen, because that means my alma mater would likely find Utah added to what would become the Pac12, and my alma mater could be free once and for all (well, for a few years until the Big12-2 implodes because of Horns’ greed) of the Horns, the RedRaiders, the BaylorBears, etc.). We had no problems with the Oklahoma schools.

The Big12-2 minus A&M, with A&M to the SEC, would also good news for SEC fans, because it would likely mean an SEC14, with VT as the 14th, with divisions as they are now, one more intra-division game, and thus one less cupcake game….

Beast from the East

June 14th, 2010
10:35 am

Joe Schad is saying that the departure from the Big 12 is imminent.
Once again, he said that four sources informed him that Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are going to the PAC 10. Also said that it appears Texas A&M is looking towards breaking away from the pack (no pun intended) and heading to the SEC.

Reptiles Rule

June 14th, 2010
10:38 am

Wouldn’t it be great if Texas decided to hold the Big 12 together (along with A&M) and the SEC could remain the same?? It all comes down to Texas and what they do.

Pac 10 Rules

June 14th, 2010
10:39 am

HaHa…. Texas and OU said no to the fat girl from the SEC.

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
10:39 am

im4bama -

I agree with your dream SEC16 scenario, if it were to come to that. What a superconference that would be.

I’d still rather add just A&M and VT, however, and stop at 14. That wouldn’t blow up the great cross-division scheduling that now exists, but would only cause a lost cupcake out of conference game, which, let’s face it, all SEC schools need to do anyway.

KR

June 14th, 2010
10:42 am

Have any of you laying out potential expansion candidates thought about the travel involved for the teams? For example, if the SEC were to add UTx, VT and Miami, they’ve effectively tripled their travel budgets. Plus there is the additional strain on the people involved. Remember how much the UGa fans talked about the toll that travelling to AZ St. put on them?

So while expanded TV markets are a major consideration, the schools are going to have to keep in mind the fact that they will have to actually play these games in all sports.

Will

June 14th, 2010
10:43 am

Just talked again to a well placed source within the Big 12.

It now appears that the Big 12 will remain a viable, if somewhat weaker, 12 team conference with only two more defections and four replacements. Should be settled within the next two weeks.

SOOHSO

June 14th, 2010
10:44 am

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
10:44 am

Pac10 Rules -

My CUBuffs are the 11th Pac10 team

IF the Big12-2 story is true, and if the A&M to the SEC stories are true, then you’d be TWICE wrong about the Pac10 being so many moves ahead of everyone else.

We’ll just have to wait (probably not very long) and see.

I hope it’s a Pac12 with Utah joining Colorado. That’d be a fine conference, in every way (not the least of which that it would avoid the horrible eastern 8 of ASU, UA, CU, TTU, UT, OU, OSU and either A&M or likely Kansas), which, according to most of the scenarios, would play as a division, not as two pods, and would not have its winner in a championship game against the old Pac8 teams’ winner).

Charlie Bama

June 14th, 2010
10:44 am

I think Texas A&M is a good fit for the SEC, and if OKie comes, too–all the better. But what the heck; Why stop at 14?? I’d look seriously at attracting VaTech and some other new TV market ACC team (note I said “New” TV market, which means Clemson, FSU, Miami are NOT in the mix). Maybe an NC State or, hey, maybe a Mizzou? In the final analysis, it’s all about NEW, expanded TV eyes that equal mo’ $$$.

Roll Tide

June 14th, 2010
10:46 am

If A&M joins the SEC, they should be in the same division as ‘Bama and Kentucky. It could be called the “Bryant Division”.

Tim James

June 14th, 2010
10:47 am

I still think Auburn should jump to the Sunbelt — better match in terms of athletics and academics. Just sayin’ . . .

GeezusDawg

June 14th, 2010
10:50 am

I doubt Utah will get a Pac-10 invite. The Pac-10 had a problem with Baylor because of religious affiliation. Utah is a Mormon school.

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
10:50 am

Charlie Bama -

Stop at 14, please. If you went to 16, then cross-division rivalries such as the following would almost certainly have to be discontinued, or played only some years:

Auburn-UGa
Bama-UT

AND, depending on the geography of the four teams added, Bama or Auburn, or both might come East, and that’d be quite a mess to politic, especially in keeping some of the current rivals on yearly schedules….

An SEC16 is just too messy altogether, so it should only be done if and when the four or five superconferences scenario appears likely, and today’s news about a likely Big12-2 makes that less likely in the near to middle term, if ever…..

Richard

June 14th, 2010
10:51 am

Tony,

Since this whole thing is driven by football TV money, follw my logic on this:

Let’s say an SEC or ACC team got $20 million from TV money in a year. If they brought in a single team, that team needs to be able to increase the TV contract by $20 million per year in order to make it a financially good move. Other than Texas, is there a single team out there that does it?

Now for the Big-10 and Pac-10, adding a team or two also brings in a conference championship game. That makes it more financially responsible. Other than that, I don’t see the point.

Even if the Big-10 goes to 16 teams, why does that force the SEC to follow suit?

bjohndawg

June 14th, 2010
10:52 am

Okay….SEC should take Texas AM or Houston…pick up Texas market.
Take Missouri and get that ST. Louis market.
Grab Cinci and pick up Ohio.
And then offer VA. Tech and get that Virginia market.

4 new teams four new TV market states

East – Va Tech, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Vandy, Tenn,Kentucky and Cinci,
West – You have Auburn, Bama, Miss, Miss State, LSU, Arkansas, Missouri, and either A&M or Houston.

Fairly balanced and since it is all about TV money anyway…4 new TV markets.
Let the cash roll in.
Then lets look at taking care of these players better with some real consideration to true living expenses.

Because most of them cannot do “dinner and a movie” with a girl unless it is on TBS.

Joe Tess Fish House

June 14th, 2010
10:52 am

As usual, you SEC homers continue to embarrass your self with the notion the SEC is superior and every team wants in.

im4bama

June 14th, 2010
10:53 am

fbfan-

Trust me, I wouldn’t mind if we don’t expand, I think 12 teams is just right. My wish would be to drop Vanderbilt and add FSU or Virginia Tech, but going to 14 is doable like you said. Honestly, I don’t give a rats ass about basketball anyway, I’m a football guy.

r2d2

June 14th, 2010
10:53 am

would the SEC consider dropping 2 teams? i vote Vandy (east) and Arkansas (West).

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
10:53 am

Utah is NOT a Mormon school. It is a public university in a predominantly Mormon state (which would give the Stanford band a lot of material to exploit), and, if you’ll look it up, it is quite a great fit for the Pac12 as a research institution, and also as a TV market.

It’s BYU (and Baylor and name any other religious private school) that would never be admitted to the Pac12, not Utah. The Utes would be a gem of an addition, and a logical “travel partner” of CU in the Pac’s “travel partner” scheme of long-standing….

Roll Tide

June 14th, 2010
10:53 am

If Auburn leaves for the Sun Belt, what would become of the Dooley-Dye Division?

Yankee Down South

June 14th, 2010
10:54 am

I think some posters on this thread are missing the key difference between motivating factors for the SEC, ACC, Pac-10 and BigTen in expanding. Ryan, you say the matchups are the most important factor to increase viewership, which leads to more advertising dollars for broadcasters, and ultimately a richer deal for the league. I agree, to the extent that this pertains to traditional media contracts like the SEC and ACC. Total footprint population isn’t as important more than you get the most people possible to watch your game when it’s on so the networks can in turn pay you more money for your product.

The BigTen (and according to Larry Scott, the Pac-10’s new) business model relies a large percentage on that ad income while also pulling a significant amount of revenue from the number of people paying for their network even if they don’t watch, so guaranteeing footprint population (and therefore getting your network onto that market’s TV sets) is equally or more important. I think what you saw both sides of the coin with the addition of Colorado and Nebraska.

While Colorado may not have national pull, they allow the Pac-10 to have the best chance of getting their network into the higher population Denver and ski area markets. Nebraska, on the other hand, doesn’t bring TV sets in any significance, but has national cache and following. This allows a small population addition but is more focused on providing big matchups for the ABC/ESPN contract to allow better mid-level matchups to move to the BigTen’s network (and higher ad dollars for the valuable TV properties, which are live events like a football/bball game). Apparently, the BigTen found that to be profitable enough to expand, in conjunction with an assumed CCG.

I also think by adding Nebraska, a brand versus a major market, the Big Ten is showing they are focused on NYC/DC. They may still be trying to get UT but are using the East as a backup. While no single team pulls the NYC market, having more major brands (UM, PSU, Neb, OSU, eventually ND?) playing in the NYC or DC markets (Rutgers/MD) would draw excitement from those following their local team, but also from the large number of BigTen alumni that typically end up in NYC/DC after college. It’s pretty obvious how fans down here feel about ND but based on the coverage you see of them on ESPN, I hope you can understand how much of a following they have on the East Coast and in the Midwest.

I just wanted to point out how the SEC/ACC may be looking at different factors (or at least place different weight on those factors mentioned above) than the Pac-10/BigTen based on their business models. I think A&M would be a good fit in the SEC and would go after OK, WVU, KU, and Louisville, in that order, to pair with A&M if I were Mikey Slive. Get some b-ball balance to the conference, you don’t need more powerhouse football programs to get to 14.

GeezusDawg

June 14th, 2010
10:57 am

An official Mormon affiliated university? No. 95+% Mormon enrollment? yes. Trustees and administration Mormon? Yes. Mormon values firmly entrenched? yes. Cal-Berkley fit? no.

rex

June 14th, 2010
10:57 am

Tony: in regard to this
“I once thought the SEC would look to the ACC. I no longer feel strongly that will be the case.”

What DO you think the case would be ?

Really

June 14th, 2010
10:58 am

It is conceivable that Tex A&M will fit nicely into the SEC. If this happens, I look for the SEC to go after Maryland. Maryland can expand the SEC footprint, and is an AAU member. I think the SEC would be best served by going to 14 teams, not 16. If they look to go to 16, look for the SEC to potentially go after Tex A&M, Maryland, and either Louisville, Memphis, W Vir., Clemson, or Miami.

In response, the ACC will be forced to go after Rutgers, UCONN, USF, Syracuse, Cinn, or Pitt. If the ACC loses Maryland and Clemson, Rutgers and UCONN can solidify the east coast market from New Jersey to Maine. USF, Miami, and Fla State will lock down central and southern Fla televisions. South Carolina’s population is not large enough to consider in this equation. But, Virgina and Virginia Tech will certainly sure up northern Virginia and D.C. metro. Add Cinn. to get into the Ohio Valley region, and add Syracuse for the New York market.

One other potential candidate is Temple. Adding Temple would give the ACC the entire eastern seaboard. Temple adds the Philly market. So now the ACC would have major television markets in Atlanta; Miami; Charlotte; Washington; Philly; New York; and Boston.

Sounds like a winner to me. ESPN would love to have Duke and North Carolina come to Storres during basketball season.

fbfan

June 14th, 2010
10:59 am

Yankee Down South -

Very good points. What do you make of the Big10 courtship of Maryland rumors? That school is in a very, very sweet spot, as dominant as any in two major markets (DC and Baltimore), contiguous to a Big10 state (PA), an AAU member of long-standing, and in one of the only places available for Big10 expansion where the population and corporate ranks are both growing.