College Football Realignment: Big 12 Looks East...(Repost)

J CarterContributor IFebruary 20, 2012

I will start by saying that I am a college football conference realignment fanatic.  I have been examining, debating and writing about conference realignment and expansion since 2009 and I am a true believer
that Division I football will eventually end up with five 16-team conferences with a four-team playoff to play for all of the marbles.  

I will continue to argue that Division I football cannot shrink to four 16-team conferences because there are more Division I schools with solid football programs and great TV markets than a four-conference, 64-team could hold.  Five BCS conferences will more than accommodate all of the big-time programs and will keep Congress out of the debate.

I’ve thought long and hard about the future of college football realignment and after careful thought I would like to go on record and provide you a glimpse of what I believe will be the future of the Big 12 specifically and BCS football conferences in general.

The Big 12 will eventually grow to a 14-team conference and will then wait on Notre Dame and BYU.  BYU will eventually join the Big 12 because, quite frankly, that will be its only option to joining the BCS.  BYU is in no rush and is enjoying its independence, even if it will be short-lived.  BYU will hold out until the Big 12 makes its final move to 16 teams and then it will commit.  The Big 12 will push hard for Notre Dame but it will not win this prize.  Notre Dame will eventually find a conference with a better geographic fit. 

Time frame to a 16-team conference: within five years.

The Big 12 will grow to a 14-team conference within two years or as early as this summer, and Louisville will be the 11th team to join the league soon.  The real question is which teams will make No. 12 through No. 16.


Below is a list of schools I believe the Big 12 is interested in bringing on board.  Keep in mind there is no order of merit list.  They will divide schools into various categories below in order of precedence.


Actively seeking and/or will invite:

Notre Dame

The Big 12 is actively pursuing these schools.  It would drop everything to get Notre Dame, but the Big 12 is realistic in its approach to expansion.  Louisville and BYU are two schools that would also add value to the conference.


Would seriously pursue if requested:
Florida State
Georgia Tech

These schools are not actually on any real invite list, but if any one of these schools seriously seeks an
invite, the Big 12 would be more than accommodating.  Oh, and don't think for a second that Pitt is off the table for an invite to the Big 12.  Remember TCU.  College football and TV revenue is about money and TV sets.  A pod division that includes West Virginia, Cincinnati, Pitt and Iowa State would certainly increase the value of Big 12 football and could be enticing to any program looking to increase its TV revenue.




Would consider if required:
South or Central Florida
New Mexico
Boise State
Southern Mississippi

These schools could add value to the Big 12 and are at least on the list of schools to be considered for an invitation.


The other conferences

The ACC will stay at a 14-team conference and wait on Notre Dame to decide what it wants to do.  I believe the ACC will win the ultimate prize of Notre Dame, which will happen because the ACC will concede to Notre Dame and allow it to have its separate NBC contract. 

Time frame to a 16-team conference: within five years.




The SEC will lead the way to a 16-team conference and will eventually get to 16 teams within five years.  It will look to the East Coast to find its last two teams. 

Time frame to get to get to a 16-team conference: within five years.


Pac-12 will stay at 12 schools and wait on Notre Dame to decide what it wants to do, but that dream will not materialize.  The problem with the Pac-12 is it is limited to the types of schools it prefers to invite.  It will try for a third time to invite schools from the Big 12 but will fail for the final time and will eventually lower its standards and pick four remaining schools in its geographic region to round out the new Pac-16.  Coincidentally, the Pac-12 was the most aggressive league in this conference realignment mess the last few years but will be the last conference expand to 16 teams. 

Time frame to get to 16-team conference: at least 10 years. 


The Big Ten will stay at 12 schools and wait on Notre Dame to decide what it wants to do.  Strangely, Notre Dame will pass on the Big Ten solely because of its NBC contract.  This will prompt the Big Ten to finally get back in the realignment picture.  It will raid the remaining quality programs from the Big East. 

Time frame to get to a 16-team conference: at least five years. 



Big East implodes within five years.  The remaining schools will join the new MWC/CUSA conference.

The New Mountain West/Conference USA will expand to a 24-team league with a four-team playoff.  There plan will be for the winner to challenge for one of the coveted slots in the soon-to-come BCS four-team playoff.  

Time frame for expansion: now.


MAC/WAC/Sunbelt will eventually merge and create a 24-team league with a four-team playoff.  

Time frame: two years.


Well, those are my thoughts. I look forward to hearing yours.