What's Happening Now In Realignment?

Posted Mar 27, 2013

With East Carolina going to the Big East, what's happening now?

East Carolina to the Big East

What's Next?

By Pete Fiutak
Follow Us @ColFootballNews   

It might not signal a seismic shift in the college sports landscape, but East Carolina moving to the Big East - and not the ACC - should help continue to make the struggling league viable. The Big East might simply be turning into Conference USA Plus, and it won't be called the Big East by the time ECU joins in 2014, but it's a good move for all sides as the realignment and adjustment continues in the college sports world.

And it's not stopping now with New Mexico State expected to join the Sun Belt and Tulsa looking to potentially follow East Carolina to the Big East, or whatever it's going to be called.

So now what do the conferences look like, and what's next in the constantly changing world of realignment? Here's what's currently happening along with the best guess for what everything will look like two years from now before the start of the 2015 season.

What We Know: Pitt and Syracuse are joining this year and Louisville is coming aboard in 2014, however, Maryland is taking off to the Big Ten next year. Atlantic: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, NC State, Syracuse, Wake Forest. Coastal: Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Pitt, Virginia, Virginia Tech.

What's Probably Going To Happen Next: The ACC is replacing Maryland with Louisville, and it has to still work and still be proactive with Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech all rumored at one time or another to be in the mix for other leagues. However, with Notre Dame dabbling in for football and jumping in for all other sports, that might be just enough of a lure to keep everyone at home. It still wouldn't be a bad thing to be an even bigger deal in the Sunshine State with South Florida and possibly UCF, and Cincinnati would be a natural to come in along with Louisville.

Big 12
What We Know: The Big 12 is standing pat with Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, TCU, Texas Tech, West Virginia

What's Probably Going To Happen Next: On the positive side, being in the middle of the country allows the Big 12 to think about several schools within geographic range, however, the conference might be more ripe for the picking than it may appear. The contracts might be strong, but don't be stunned if the Big Ten or Pac-12 shows a heavy interest in Kansas. I

Louisville's move to the ACC was a slight shocker after seeming like a natural to join West Virginia, and Cincinnati might be a right fit even though there's lukewarm interest from everyone. There has always been talk about Florida State and Miami, but if the ACC can get more out of Notre Dame, that appears to be less and less likely. An interesting move would be to branch out a bit and get UCF and South Florida, and it's always out there to Texas up a bit more with Houston and SMU bringing in a Southwest Conference flavor. BYU and Boise State would come in for the asking, and Nevada and Colorado State make a little bit of geographic sense. However, the league doesn't want to go Big East and start grabbing more non-BCS programs - TCU was a good exception and Boise State fits the bill.

Big East
What We Know: East Carolina and Tulane are coming in and Tulsa is expected to be next, but Rutgers is moving to the Big Ten in 2014 and Louisville is also taking off next year to the ACC. Navy will join in 2015. For this year, the league is Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Rutgers, South Florida, SMU, Temple and UCF.

What's Probably Going To Happen Next: Give the league credit for being extremely proactive in making sure it doesn't turn into the WAC. It has to keep its foot on the gas with UCF, Cincinnati and South Florida ripe to be snagged by the ACC or even the Big 12. Expect more and more Conference USA teams to come board with Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss big enough to be on the radar to join ECU, Tulane and Tulsa.

Big Ten
What We Know: Rutgers and Maryland are joining the league in 2014. For 2013, Leaders: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin. Legends: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern.

What's Probably Going To Happen Next: This is where it gets interesting since no one thinks outside of the box more than Jim Delany. Rutgers and Maryland bring in TV markets, and the BTN is going to want more. The idea of a massive power move of going after North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia Tech has been floated out there, but the Tar Heels probably don't come without Duke along for the ride. Don't be caught looking if the league wants a piece of Florida and takes a look at Miami.

Conference USA
What We Know: The league is losing teams left and right with East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa gone next year. However, entering the conference this season is Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, North Texas and UTSA. Old Dominion is playing as an independent this year but will be a part of the mix next year. For 2013, East: Charlotte, East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, FIU, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Southern Miss, UAB. West: Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Tulane, Tulsa, UTEP, UTSA.

What's Probably Going To Happen Next: The minor league for the Big East, and a step up for the Sun Belt types, it might be losing East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa but Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Troy, ULM and Western Kentucky seem like mortal locks to keep adding on programs to prepare for the other losses. Army could be a nice fit at some point.

What We Know: Army, BYU, Idaho, Navy, New Mexico State, Old Dominion and Notre Dame are the independents going into this season. ODU will go to Conference USA as a full-time member next season and New Mexico State will go to the Sun Belt.

What's Probably Going To Happen Next: Navy is gone to the Big East in 2015, and Army could end up following in the near future. New Mexico State is gone to the Sun Belt and Idaho is off to the Sun Belt. BYU will likely end up in the Big 12 at best, but will likely end up going back to a stronger Mountain West some day. Notre Dame will eventually marry its football program to the ACC far, far down the road.

What We Know: At the moment, it's Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State, Massachusetts, Miami University and Ohio 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: Nothing. The league has been relatively rock solid, only losing Temple over the last few years after being dumped and then rehired by the Big East. If UMass ever got stronger at football it would be a natural fit for the Big East - or whatever it's going to be called - or Conference USA, but no one has shown any interest in the directional Michigan schools and the fan bases and TV markets just aren't there for a Northern Illinois, Toledo or Bowling Green.

Mountain West
What We Know: The league raided the WAC to get up to two divisions, and Boise State and San Diego State aren't leaving for the Big East and will stay around. Mountain Division: Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, Utah State and Wyoming. West Division: Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, San Diego State, San Jose State and UNLV. 

What's Probably Going To Happen Next: Get the fence up. This is the last best farm system for the BCS leagues, and Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada and San Diego State could all be in a bit of a tug-of-war over the next several years depending on what the Pac-12 and Big 12 try to do. If Boise State ever leaves, Idaho would be the next program up, and there could be a mini-raid on the Sun Belt if things get desperate. Louisiana Tech from Conference USA makes a little bit of sense in a pinch.

What We Know: The league is set for the time being with California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington and Washington State in the North, and Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah, UCLA and USC in the South.

What's Probably Going To Happen Next: For the moment, nothing. BYU doesn't work for a variety of reasons, but Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada and San Diego State could be on the radar depending on how the Mountain West grows over the next few seasons. Don't rule out another push for Big 12 teams with Kansas a good fit for basketball. However, of all the Big 12 teams rumored to go to the Pac-12 over the years, there hasn't been any talk whatsoever about KU.

What We Know: The league is set for the time being with Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt in the East, and Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Texas A&M from the West.

What's Probably Going To Happen Next: The SEC hasn't been too excited about expanding again after bringing in Texas A&M and Missouri - the best league doesn't need to get any nastier - but the dollar signs are going to be too great to not get even bigger and add two more teams to get up to 16 total with two divisions of eight. Interest in obvious geographic and rival fits Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech isn't there - the league already has those TV markets - but Virginia Tech is on the radar to go along with ever-present rumors of North Carolina and Miami.

Sun Belt
What We Know: Georgia State and Texas State are entering this season and New Mexico State and Idaho will join in 2014. However, the conference is losing Florida Atlantic, FIU, Middle Tennessee and North Texas to Conference USA.

What's Probably Going To Happen Next: The addition of New Mexico State will help bring in a little bit of help with more losses almost certainly to come. Western Kentucky is perfect for Conference USA in the near future and Arkansas State and Troy could be in the hunt to leave, too. The conference has to stay very, very active to bring in as many programs as possible in order to be viable in three years. 

What We Know: The WAC is gone. There is no WAC.