West Virginia To The Big East
Now what does this mean?
Finally, the Big 12's dance with West Virginia is done, and Missouri's move to the SEC is all but finalized – the SEC website messed up and added Mizzou the other night before taking it down.
So now what?
Combining what we now know and what's probably going to happen in the near future, once again, here's the best guess of what the college football world is going to look like at the start of the 2013 season, once all the dust starts to settle.
Please remember, though, this is all fluid.
What We Know: Pitt and Syracuse will join in two years. Already in are Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest.
What's Probably Going To Happen Next: The ACC will keep looking to add more teams. The SEC is shopping for more teams, and Virginia Tech, Florida State, and Clemson, in that order, are in the mix. There's still talk about going after Connecticut and/or Louisville from the Big East and/or Memphis from Conference USA. The ACC will likely stick with 14 teams for the next year while keeping its options open to react to what the SEC does.
What We Know: Texas A&M is gone to the SEC next year and TCU will take its place. Missouri will leave for the SEC, and West Virginia will take its place. At the moment, the league still has Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech.
What's Probably Going To Happen Next: Now it'll be all about BYU. The Big 12 doesn't seem to have as much interest in Boise State as originally thought, and it wants to move outside of the state of Texas for a decent-name team. The Big 12 will likely bring aboard the independent to get up to 11 teams, and then it'll beef up the Texas base by adding Houston or SMU to be a true Big 12 again.
What We Know: Pitt and Syracuse are gone to the ACC, and West Virginia is taking off for the Big 12. The Big East has offered invites to Air Force, Boise State, Navy, and the UCF, and SMU and Houston are in the equation. Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers and USF are still around, but Louisville openly lobbied the Big 12 to join.
What's Probably Going To Happen Next: Upping the exit fee to leave won't matter it a program wants to go. The Big East wants this to assure potential additions that the league will be stable, but none of the remaining members are keen on the idea. Because of the new formation of the Mountain West-Conference USA alignment, even with the meetings, expect Air Force and Boise State to stay put, since they would've been added for just football.
However, UCF is a natural tie-in for all sports and should've been added two years ago as a natural rival to South Florida. Getting UCF also ensures the Orlando market; a nice get for any TV package. SMU and Houston are on the table, but both programs are hoping for a call from the Big 12. The ACC might take Connecticut and Louisville, at some point in the next few years. No matter what happens, expect the league to add Army and Temple.
What We Know: Nothing. It's been radio silence coming from the Big Ten offices publicly, but the wheels are in motion behind the scenes to come up with other options to join Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin in the Leaders, and Iowa Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Northwestern in the Legends.
What's Probably Going To Happen Next: This is pure speculation, but don't be fall-off-your-chair shocked if Texas is still in the equation. The media always talk about Notre Dame, but it's not going to happen. Missouri is going to the SEC, even though it wanted to go to the Big Ten, and Rutgers, Connecticut and Maryland have been thrown out there, in that order. There's nothing concrete at the moment.
What We Know: The league is merging forces with the Mountain West for just football. At the moment, East Carolina, Houston, Marshall, Memphis, Rice, SMU, Southern Miss, UAB, UCF, UTEP, Tulane and Tulsa are members.
What's Probably Going To Happen Next: Several teams are still in play for other leagues. Yes, the merger with the Mountain West is a great move to help keep Conference USA viable, but it's also an insurance policy. Houston and SMU are on the Big 12's radar; UCF is gone to the Big East; Memphis could end up in the Big East, and East Carolina is an option for the ACC and the Big East. Expect Louisiana Tech to join in the next few years if the league loses a program other than UCF.
What We Know: Army, BYU, Navy, and Notre Dame are the four independents.
What's Probably Going To Happen Next: Navy is almost certainly going to be in the Big East, and Army will likely end up being asked to join, too. BYU will likely end up in the Big 12, and Notre Dame will be on the radar of the Big East, Big Ten and Pac-12 as long as it remains an independent.
What We Know: At the moment, it's Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State, Miami, Ohio, and Temple in the East and Ball State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo, and Western Michigan in the West.
What's Probably Going To Happen Next: Temple was booted out of the Big East a few years ago, and it'll almost certainly get the call from the ex at some point. The other 12 programs will remain intact.
What We Know: At the moment, the plan is for all 10 members expected to play in 2012 to be Mountain West members in 2012. That includes Air Force and Boise State, who'll be offered invites from the Big East, to go along with Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV and Wyoming. TCU is going to the Big 12, and Fresno State, Hawaii, and Nevada are coming over from the WAC.
What's Probably Going To Happen Next: The league is planning on Air Force and Boise State staying. The Big East is calling for both of them, but suddenly the merger with Conference USA makes the Mountain West look a bit stronger. If the new combined conference gets an automatic BCS bid, then Boise State will almost certainly stay.
What We Know: It's Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington, and Washington State in the North, and Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, UCLA, USC, and Utah in the South.
What's Probably Going To Happen Next: The idea of Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech joining is getting dimmer by the day. It would've happened if the Pac-12 had let Texas keep all its Longhorn Network money, and Oklahoma would've made the jump for the asking. The Pac-12 members wanted the new formation to breathe a bit, but once the Big 12 head honchos get their stuff together and come up with a plan to make everyone happy, everything might change. Don't be fooled by the "rejection;" the Pac-12 wants Texas. It still does, but it might be too late. Adding West Virginia helps the Big 12's cause to keep the big boys.
What We Know: Texas A&M will join West next year to be in the same division as Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. The East is Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
What's Probably Going To Happen Next: Missouri is almost the perfect program to bring aboard to round things out. It's a good academic institution; it's closer to several SEC schools than Gainesville and Baton Rouge; and the football program is good, but it's not that good. Missouri and Texas A&M don't scare Alabama and Florida that much.
Virginia Tech is being talked about to expand the reach and to get into the Virginia/Baltimore/Washington D.C. areas. Clemson is in the mix, but the SEC already has South Carolina. Florida State appears to be a natural, but the Tallahassee market isn't a must and Florida is dominant.
What We Know: It's Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic, FIU, Louisiana-Lafayette, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Troy, ULM and Western Kentucky.
What's Probably Going To Happen Next: Florida International might take UCF's place in Conference USA, and Troy might end up going somewhere, but both are long shots. However, taking its cue from the Conference USA-Mountain West move, the league will probably survive by joining forces with the WAC.
What We Know: The WAC is losing Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada to the Mountain West next year. Still in will be Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State and Utah State. Texas State and UT-San Antonio will step in next year.
What's Probably Going To Happen Next: The league is hamstrung by geography, and there aren't any options after losing so many key programs over the last few years. Texas State and UT-San Antonio aren't going to move the needle, and Louisiana Tech might end up going to Conference USA. With only seven teams as is, combining with the Sun Belt makes sense.