Realignment - Everything You Need To Know
Texas A&M QB Jerrod Johnson vs. Arkansas
Texas A&M QB Jerrod Johnson vs. Arkansas
Posted Jun 14, 2010

With all the rumors floating around and all the speculation, what's actually going on? CFN tries to break it all down with what's happening (like Texas A&M possibly going to the SEC), what's going to happen, what each conference should do, and how things are going to look when everything shakes out.


NOW What's Up? - ACC, Big East, Big 12

Yeah, we're part of the problem ...

By Pete Fiutak 

- Realignment, What's Up?  - Big Ten, Pac 10, SEC, M-West

Are you having fun with the craziest offseason in college football history? USC is certainly thankful for the drama and coverage otherwise the talk would be all Reggie Bush all the time, but for conferences like the Big 12 and the WAC and for schools like Kansas and Missouri, these are nervous times as they try to figure out ways to stay relevant and viable.

Nebraska already jumped to the Big 12, Colorado signed on with the Pac 10, and Boise State took off for the Mountain West, but those were ripples compared to the tsunami about to come once Texas decides what it wants to do. From all indications, everything will be sorted out this week, so before the world becomes even more insane, here's where everyone appears to stand, what might happen over the next several days, what CFN's suggestion would be to go forward, and how the conference alignments are about to shake out.

A few things to keep in mind through this whole process. First, this is about business at the highest level; this isn't necessarily a sports story. While it'll be cool when Nebraska goes to Columbus and it'll be interesting when Colorado and UCLA go at it, this is about TV contracts, bowl ties, academic reputation, and egos, egos, egos. While you might not necessarily get all gooey over the idea of Rutgers playing Illinois, the Big Ten Network types certainly do when they think about selling ad time and sponsorships with the New York market as a big part of the equation.

Remember, just because a tie-in might seem to make sense football-wise, it might not help the bottom line. The Big Ten doesn't want Pitt because it already has Penn State and owns Pennsylvania. That's why Maryland is being thrown around as an idea to expand the reach into new markets like Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Second, remember that the major players involved don't quite know what's happening here. Everyone's spouting whatever needs to be said to keep the process moving, and the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing is changing the dynamic by the tweet. Remember, just a few days ago Nebraska head honchos were publicly saying how viable the Big 12 was and how it was a nice place to set up shop. 27 seconds after signing on with the Big Ten, it turns out the Huskers couldn't get out fast enough and HATED being second-fiddle both economically and prestige-wise to the powers in the Big 12 South.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your week.

The storm appeared to be passing by the ACC, but now it appears that the SEC, who doesn't appear interested in Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Miami, at least for the moment, wants at least one school to round out the league if/when Texas A&M joins. Fortunately for the ACC, the SEC owns Florida with the Gators and doesn't necessarily need Florida State or Miami, it owns Georgia with the Bulldogs so it doesn't need Georgia Tech and Atlanta, and it has South Carolina with the Gamecocks and doesn't really need Clemson. Maryland might be in play for the Big Ten, but about 75 other things have to happen before that becomes a real concern for right now.

Best Guess For What's Next:
The ACC will sit tight and keep as quiet as possible and hope Virginia Tech isn't gone to the SEC. With FedEx CEO Fred Smith reportedly looking to get Memphis (where the company is based) into a BCS league by offering millions in sponsorship dough, the ACC should jump on the Tigers even if the report has been denied. The basketball program alone would help ease the loss of the Hokies a wee bit.

CFN's Recommendation: ACC, learn the lesson that you taught everyone else … be proactive. Don't be like the Big 12 and wait to be raided and picked clean; take Memphis and go get West Virginia, Connecticut, Louisville, and Syracuse to make the basketball conference a devastating killer, and create such a strong all-around athletic package that no one will want to leave. If some programs do end up taking off, the league will still be strong.

Throwing the dart guess for how the league will look when everything settles down:
Atlantic: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland (until 2012), NC State, Wake Forest
Coastal: Duke, Georgia Tech, Memphis, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia

Big East
All the Rutgers to the Big Ten talk has gone quiet for the moment with Maryland now the hot rumor of the last week. However, that could change in a heartbeat once the Big Ten is ready to act. However, unlike a few years ago when the conference was caught off guard when the ACC swooped in and danced with their dates, the Big East higher-ups appear to be thinking ahead. While Kansas doesn't make geographic sense, the basketball program would be a dream for the Big East, and that might not be where the expansion stops. However, the Big 12 North schools in play will most likely want to stick together and be involved more heavily in football, where the Mountain West might make more sense. For now, the league formulating plans for what happens if Rutgers and/or Connecticut are gone when the Big Ten figures out what it wants to do.

Best Guess For What's Next: Rutgers is gone. The Big Ten would like to know what's happening with Texas first, but the Rutgers part of the equation could be locked up in a hurry once the Big 12 situation becomes clearer. If the Big Ten doesn't get some of the Big 12 schools, and doesn't go after Maryland, Connecticut could be ripe for the taking.

CFN's Recommendation:
Put the full-court press on Kansas and Missouri and super-size the basketball side. KU and Mizzou (and Iowa State) would make a decent geographical match with DePaul and Marquette, and the football package would be far more attractive to keep other potential defectors from looking around. Along the way, lock up Memphis and the FedEx money (again, make the basketball conference gigantic) and take a look at East Carolina and UCF to expand the league.

Throwing the dart guess for how the league will look when everything settles down:
Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Pitt, South Florida, Syracuse, West Virginia

Big 12
Depending on who you want to believe, the Big 12 and commissioner Dan Beebe have been a) stunningly naïve, b) grossly incompetent, c) trying whatever possible to keep the ship from sinking, all the while knowing almost nothing could be done, or d) all of the above.

However things shake out, the Big 12 has fumbled this from the start. This wasn't like the ACC's hostile takeover of the Big East a few years ago; EVERYONE knew Colorado wanted to go to the Pac 10 and Nebraska leaving was apparently a done deal from the second the Big Ten had an interest. Even so, the Big 12 and Beebe appeared to be stunned and hurt that this actually happened, and even if the reaction has been nothing more than a spin, it makes the conference look like it wasn't able to take care of its own.

Where's the backup plan? Where was the proactive thinking? Where was the move months ago to appease Texas instead of having to resort to politicking and lobbying at the 11th hour? Now, the Mountain West, THE MOUNTAIN FREAKIN' WEST, is chirping about how it might be able to take over some of the Big 12's teams.

The biggest question for the remaining non-Texas/Texas A&M teams is the same one that came up before all this started happening. Let's say by some miracle that Texas does stay; why would anyone else want to stick around without a total overhaul of the revenue disbursement? In the catch-22, why would Texas stay if it didn't get a sweetheart of a deal? Missouri has openly wanted to bail on the Big 12 desiring more TV and bowl money, and it'll take off to the Big Ten the second it's asked. The Big 12 can talk all it wants to about what it might be able to do with a ten-team league, but any package it puts together still won't match up with anything the Pac 10 or Big Ten might create.

Best Guess For What's Next: Either the remaining ten teams will stay intact with everyone getting around $20 million a year in an upgraded overall package, and with Texas getting a MAJOR sweetheart deal to stick, or it's over. The deal is dead if the main players are out, and the Big 12 North types and Baylor, angered at the process from the start, will all try to go on to bigger and different things. If that doesn't happen and the North teams stick around, the Big 12 will try to rally around the jilted schools and will try way, way, way too late to take on several Mountain West programs. It'll get TCU and will bring on Houston and SMU to try to reform a Southwest Conference type of section, but it'll be too late as far as national prestige. The Big 12 could become the new Mountain West, but it'll be tough to keep the automatic BCS bid.

CFN's Recommendation: The Big 12 should've been ahead of the game to try to venture to the Big East by going after Pitt, Louisville, and West Virginia while also bringing aboard TCU from the Mountain West to create a 16-team league that would've brought in more of the TV dollars that would've made everyone so, so happy. Instead, the league went into a prevent and got torched. At this point, the Big 12 needs to keep fighting to keep the teams from the South while making sure TCU, Houston, SMU, and Colorado State are on high alert.

Throwing the dart guess for how the league will look when everything settles down:
Either a mish-mosh of Conference USA teams with Baylor on board, or Game Over.

- Realignment, What's Up?  - Big Ten, Pac 10, SEC, M-West