MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – Call it conference chaos or conference Armageddon; whatever you call conference realignment, it’s finally hit critical mass in college sports.
The ACC, SEC, Pac-12, Big XII, Big East, and Big Ten are all about to look a lot different from they did this season.
The first shot was fired by Texas A&M when it applied and was welcomed into the Southeastern Conference. The move was held-up by litigation threats from other members of the Big XII, but the move is happening sooner rather than later.
Then last weekend, Pittsburgh and Syracuse decided they would work ahead of the curve and officially became new members of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The addition of the two schools brought the ACC to 14 teams, which makes it the biggest conference in the country as of Tuesday.
Monday, the University of Oklahoma and University of Texas boards of regents gave their school presidents the full authority to change conference affiliations in the best interests of the respective schools.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have their eyes set on joining the Pac-12 Conference. Texas is also believed to be openly flirting with the Pac-12. If the Pac-12 accepts Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas, Texas Tech is believed to be the final school to bring the conference to 16 teams.
That would make the Pac-12 the largest and perhaps most powerful conference in the country. But, there’s still more layers to the conference realignment onion still left to be peeled.
Once Oklahoma and Texas make their respective moves; that would leave the remaining teams from the Big XII looking for a new conference to join. Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and Baylor would be on the outside looking in for a new conference.
If the Big XII does implode once Texas and Oklahoma leave the conference for the Pac-12, SI.com’s Andy Staples reports that Missouri would be the first target of the SEC. If the SEC added Missouri, it would bring the total schools to 14 and give the SEC two divisions.
That would leave Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and Baylor having to choose between the Big East, Mountain West, or Conference USA conferences for their new home.
There have been rumors that the remaining Big XII schools would target a move to the Big East conference, along with the conference’s newest member, TCU. But, TCU said last weekend that it’s still evaluating the conference puzzle to see where they should go.
If TCU does go to the Big East with Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and Baylor; that would give the conference 19 teams. But, only 11 of those teams would be playing in the cash cow sport of football.
Still, for TCU, the loss of Syracuse and Pittsburgh makes getting to the Bowl Championship Series even easier. But, there’s still more that is being talked about as it relates to conference realignment.
Big East members the University of Connecticut and Rutgers University have both said they will do what’s in the best interest of their schools. Adding both would give the ACC access to the lucrative New York television market and the northeast.
If that happens, the Big East would lose two key players and even with the addition of the other Big XII teams, it may not be enough to keep the conference as a major player in the main revenue sport of college football.
The Big East’s future became even more tenuous when West Virginia decided to try to leave the conference for either the SEC or ACC. But, both the SEC and ACC turned down the Mountaineers, according to CBSSports.com.
West Virginia is not a recruiting hot bed and has no major television market, which likely played into the decision to not admit the schools. The ACC has passed on taking in West Virginia three times in the past.
Then, there’s also the case of Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish football team wants to remain independent, but as the conference realignment puzzle re-shapes the landscape, Notre Dame may have to finally join a conference.
Notre Dame plays in the Big East in every sport but football. But if the Big East continues losing members, it may choose to move to a different conference. The Big Ten has long sought to get Notre Dame into the conference, but has been rebuffed at every turn. This time could be different.
For its part, Texas has said it will make its move in the next two weeks. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are completely focused on the Pac-12. There is some doubt on whether the Pac-12 will accept the Sooners and Cowboys without bringing Texas along.
According to Rivals.com, Missouri is the SEC’s target for its 14th team. But, the SEC hasn’t tipped its hand if it will move to get Missouri before or after the Big XII collapses.