Maybe Conference Contraction Will Become the New Fad

Jim OTDContributor IJune 16, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - APRIL 05:  (L-R) Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry of the Duke Blue Devils celebrate with the trophy after Duke won 61-59 against the Butler Bulldogs during the 2010 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 5, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Big 12 has decided to move forward with 10 teams a decision that will allow a round-robin schedule in basketball and eliminates the conference championship game in football.

Texas and Oklahoma now have an easier road to the National Championship, revenues will be divided by less teams, and most importantly, the Big 12 may have established the best basketball conference.

Mike DeCourcy reports that the statistician Ken Pomeroy has declared the 10-team Big 12, had it been in place this past season, would have been the strongest league under his rating system since 2004.

Before the next wave of expansion begins, conferences around the nation should keep their eye on the Big 12. If the league's basketball proves to be the best, the schools are making money, and their television contracts are competitive, then perhaps the super-conference concept will go away. 

If we are lucky, maybe the ACC will realize the value of an 18-game conference basketball schedule and a more exclusive, intimate alliance of schools. 

The only reason the ACC expanded in the first place was to get a conference championship game in football. The problem is that the game has been nothing short of an embarrassment in terms of attendance and television ratings.

The only way the game will get consistent attendance is if Clemson or Florida State play Virginia Tech each year. And no matter who is playing, the television ratings just aren't going to get much better.

Face it, the ACC will never be the SEC. The conference can differentiate itself by just being itself, returning to its roots, and resuming its rightful place as the nation's greatest basketball conference. 

To get there, the ACC has to admit it made a mistake in expansion. It would have to drop two teams Miami and Boston College and play a round-robin schedule. Traditional rivalries would be re-energized and conference play would be meaningful again.

If this causes any of the football-first schools to bolt, add Louisville, Memphis, or West Virginia. Any of the three would expand the ACC's footprint, but in a logical, regional way, and would upgrade the level of play in basketball.

No matter what happens to the Big 12 over the next few years, conferences around the country should pay attention. Maybe conference contraction is the wave of the future.