Here is something you can bet on: There is going to be conference realignment in the NCAA.
Everyone keeps talking expansion, but for that to occur it means another conference is going to get smaller. It is hard to imagine any of the major conferences would see downsizing as a good option right now, so expect the first round of conference jumpers to lead to a second wave as replacements are sought.
While there is much talk about Texas leaving the Big 12 to join the Big Ten and the Pac-10 expanding beyond its traditional geographic borders, the reality of who will land where will be driven by three key considerations as outlined below.
1.) Financial Opportunity
Going to the Big Ten would offer significant financial opportunity to most schools, but what some schools bring to the table will not make the extension of an invitation worthwhile.
2.) Geographical Alignment
Where a school sits is important in the process of making a decision. Beyond football and basketball, schools do still offer other athletic opportunities. If you get far enough away from your geographic base, teams will start spending more time on buses or schools will be forced to buy more plane tickets.
3.) Recruiting Impact
No school wants to provide a lesser rival a more even playing field on which to recruit.
Want an example of this?
Do you think Ohio State wants to see Cincinnati be given more legitimacy by letting it in the Big Ten? Playing too many games far from home also might give more local competitors an opportunity to steal players from you. Texas A&M would relish the idea of the Longhorns traveling to play away games in places like Madison, Wisconsin.
Using these three areas, here is one look at how the conferences could shake out.
Syracuse is the new team in the Big Ten.
It doesn’t step on the traditional recruiting grounds of the current Big Ten teams and it delivers a large television market to the conference. Yes, Big Ten teams are shown in New York, so Syracuse adds a New York team to the league. By the way, Syracuse brings a basketball power as well.
Other schools considered: UConn, Texas, Nebraska, Missouri, Notre Dame, Pitt, and Rutgers
Here is the most sweeping move of the conference changes. Out west the Pac-10 picks up four teams to become the first major to have 14 schools playing football. The additions are Boise State, Utah, BYU and Colorado. Each of these teams enhance the conference’s television package.
Other teams considered: San Diego State and San Jose State.
Being void of Colorado presents a real opportunity to the Big 12 and it takes it. Arkansas aligns with the conference over the objections of the Sooners and Cowboys, and gives the conference a new television market. The Razorbacks get to play several of their former SWC rivals along with more natural rivals like Missouri and Oklahoma.
Other schools considered: LSU, Arizona and Arizona State.
|Ole Miss||Miss. State|
|North Carolina State||Virginia|
|Wake Forest||West Virginia|