The one tidbit of news on an otherwise horrendously slow day today is the report from a Kansas City news station that the Big Ten has extended invites to Notre Dame, Missouri, Nebraska and Rutgers to join its looming mega conference. None of the schools have confirmed the report and whether true today or not, the expansion to 14 or 16 teams by the Big Ten is very likely. If you are like me (and I hope you arent because I dont wish that on anyone), then you are probably wondering if the Big Ten expands, what does this mean for me (aka the SEC)? A Big Ten Expansion to 14 or 16 probably puts us on our way to potential mega-conferences and if that happens, a few movements are likely.
— First, the Pac 10 expands quickly to 12 or 14, probably adding BYU and Utah and then asking Colorado, or potentially New Mexico to join the league as well.
— The other conferences go on a mad dash to raid the Big 12, with the Pac 10, SEC and Big Ten trying to take the best of what is available, as the conference itself tries to somehow persevere.
Both of these movements are almost certain and set up one of two scenarios, each of which would effect the SEC differently:
The “Rearrangement” Scenario:
While most predict a seismic shift if the Big Ten expands, it could certainly also see a much smaller ripple. If Notre Dame accepts the Big Ten bid, the league might stay at 12, and there would be little further turmoil. Even if the Big Ten goes to 14, all doesnt have to change and you could see movement such as this:
Big Ten adds Rutgers, Missouri and Nebraska
Pac Ten adds BYU and Utah
Big 12 nabs up TCU and potentially New Mexico or SMU
SEC stands firm
ACC stands firm
Big East adds Central Florida, East Carolina or Memphis
Those scenarios represent a small rearrangment of the major conferences, with the Big Ten becoming the largest league, but not necessarily the best, adding good schools that make the league more money, but still likely coming in second in importance to the SEC overall. The Big 12 takes a hit, but survives because it keeps the Texas schools.
The Fundamental Shift:
The other possibility is that realignment takes a different path. In this one, the move is on quickly and we end up with four SUPER conferences, each of which becomes the basis for a mega league in Football. The movement would likely look like this:
Big Ten takes Notre Dame, Missouri, Nebraska, Rutgers and one more (lets say Pitt or Syracuse)
Pac Ten takes Utah, BYU, Iowa State, Colorado and potentially the Kansas schools
The SEC then is left with two potential scenarios, either of which they could pursue. Scenario one (and the likely choice if the Big 12 were to crack) would be to take Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and one of the other Texas schools….likely Texas A&M. The other potential option is to take Clemson, Virginia Tech, Miami and Florida State on the other side. Either way, the conference gets to 16 and adds major power. The SEC would surely prefer the Texas scenario better.
Then the remnants of the ACC and Big East would combine to create a hodgepodge conference that could extend from Texas Tech all the way to Connecticut. The ACC 12 would probably add UCONN, South Florida, Syracuse and West Virginia.
The big losers would be the schools left…specifically Texas Tech, Baylor, Louisville and Cincinnati, who could easily be left without a chair after the musical game has stopped. That is why Louisville is so worried about how all this plays out. So long as you find a home after the movement, you are fine. But the Cards are a very likely candidate with football to not find such a home…and that is truly scary for them as a major program.
So the question then remains for UK fans. Which of these scenarios would you prefer? The small realignment where the SEC basically remains the same? Or the major realignment with a fundamental shift in college sports? And if you prefer that scenario, would you rather have the Texas-Oklahoma group or the Miami-Florida State-Va Tech-Clemson group?