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Conference Re-Alignments

MadRat

Red Shirt
2 Year Member
It's that time of year where conferences are wheeling and dealing about their futures. And it's fun to imagine where these backroom deals could lead. The B1G is still trying to get Notre Dame and three more schools to join to get to 20. The Big 12 would like to get to between fourteen and sixteen. The PAC-12 will expand to survive. It's a mad world we live in, this college football landscape.

The B1G at twenty could be interesting if they split to four divisions. Otherwise a nine-game schedule just within a single division would be pretty boring. Nebraska geographically in the WEST would align with Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. If they could get Kansas or Oklahoma into the mix that would be a very strong division. I believe Kansas would be the most natural addition, with Oklahoma tied down to where their legislature would require Oklahoma State to go to the same conference. Kansas fits the B1G academically very well. Not so sure either Oklahoma team would. Or maybe the B1G expands to the east and south, then Illinois would fit in to this mix and none of the aforementioned school get looks.

In a four division B1G we'd see a few natural grouping perhaps:

WEST) Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin (plus Kansas? Oklahoma?)
NORTH) Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern (plus Notre Dame?)
EAST) Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland (plus Syracuse? Virginia?)
CENTRAL) Ohio State, Purdue, Indiana, Illinois (plus Louisville?)

Or maybe Notre Dame won't join so they shift a little more like.

WEST) Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois (plus Kansas? Oklahoma?)
NORTH) Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Minnesota
EAST) Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland (plus Virginia? North Carolina? Boston College? UConn?)
CENTRAL) Ohio State, Purdue, Indiana (plus Louisville? Pittsburgh?)

How would the schedule look like with 20 teams? I would think the four inter-division rivals would leave you playing one from each opposing division, giving you eight teams. You might need to set aside one date at the end of the season where the conference creates match-ups to set automatic bowl qualifiers AND of course the champions. The top four division teams would play for the conference title. The winner of the final would set their respective semi-final opponents as the 3rd and 4th places for automatic bowl tie-ins. In 2019 we have the following bowl tie ins:

1) College Football Playoff National Championship (dependent on national ranks)
2) The Rose Bowl will be the B1G vs. Pac-12
3) Outback Bowl B1G vs. SEC
4) San Diego Country Credit Union Holiday Bowl B1G vs. Pac-12 (Agreement is for five different teams in six years, so no Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern or Wisconsin, if possible.)
5) TaxSlayer Bowl B1G vs. SEC -OR- Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl B1G vs. SEC (ACC and Big Ten combine in the Music City and TaxSlayer, with each getting three appearances in six years. The Big Ten played in TaxSlayer in 2015 and the Music City in 2016, 2017 & 2018. It’s almost certainly going to be in the TaxSlayer, but no Iowa or Penn State, if possible.)
6) Capital One Orange Bowl ACC against the highest-ranked B1G or SEC team, or Notre Dame.
7) New Era Pinstripe Bowl B1G vs. ACC (unofficial tie-in)
8) Redbox Bowl B1G vs. Pac-12
9) Quick Lane Bowl B1G vs. ACC
10) Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl B1G vs. Mountain West
11) Agreement for three SERVPRO First Responders and three Armed Forces bowls in six years. The Big Ten hasn’t been in the Armed Force Bowl since 2014.

The general consensus through the last several years is that the writing is on the wall for the Big 12 or the ACC. One of these conferences is going to get absorbed and the remaining members turned into the next Sun Belt. The B1G is poised to win big in any expansion plans. I invite other HuskerMax members to come up with their own B1G expansion plans and how it would work. Especially what needs to be answered is how the division would work if they get to between 16 and twenty teams.
 

HuskerNash

Recruit
2 Year Member
Not sure where you are getting that the B1G is trying to expand to 20, maybe you are talking in hypotheticals but it sounds like you are stating fact?? You have Jim Delaney on his way out and I have not once heard that expansion to 20 was his goal or even open to discussing it. Would they welcome Notre Dame with open arms if they thought they could pull them away from their semi-status with ACC? I am sure they would. Speaking of the ACC, there is no way they are getting absorbed. Best basketball conference in the country and has won NC in football 2 out of the last 3 years. Football and sports in general needs an improved product in the western portion of the country. Expansion talk gets the blood pumping for sure but I don't see much of what you are alluding to happening in the near future or ever. There are way to many conference differences that tilt the scales in favor one conference over others. Last thing you need for college football is one conference with 14, one with 16, and another with 20. I know it would screw with rivalries and never happen but I would take 96 teams and build 8 conferences of 12 with two divisions in each conference. At the end of the regular season you are now set up with a 16 team playoff with round one being your conference championship between 16 division winners. You must win your division to make the playoffs and you must win your conference to advance to the second round.
 

Huskerthom

All Legend
5 Year Member
Not sure where you are getting that the B1G is trying to expand to 20, maybe you are talking in hypotheticals but it sounds like you are stating fact?? You have Jim Delaney on his way out and I have not once heard that expansion to 20 was his goal or even open to discussing it. Would they welcome Notre Dame with open arms if they thought they could pull them away from their semi-status with ACC? I am sure they would. Speaking of the ACC, there is no way they are getting absorbed. Best basketball conference in the country and has won NC in football 2 out of the last 3 years. Football and sports in general needs an improved product in the western portion of the country. Expansion talk gets the blood pumping for sure but I don't see much of what you are alluding to happening in the near future or ever. There are way to many conference differences that tilt the scales in favor one conference over others. Last thing you need for college football is one conference with 14, one with 16, and another with 20. I know it would screw with rivalries and never happen but I would take 96 teams and build 8 conferences of 12 with two divisions in each conference. At the end of the regular season you are now set up with a 16 team playoff with round one being your conference championship between 16 division winners. You must win your division to make the playoffs and you must win your conference to advance to the second round.
OK so only going to talk about the ACC part of your post. That all sounds good on paper. However you could have said the same about the Big12 yet it got raided. The SEC will always be the big dog down south. College sports in the end is about money. Of the Power 5 they are still in last.
According to Wilner’s projections for 2018, distributions of more than $50 million would give the Big Ten a sizable revenue advantage over schools from the SEC (approximately $43 million each), the Big 12 ($36.5 million), the Pac-12 ($32 million) and the ACC ($28 million).
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidching/2018/04/17/big-tens-rights-deal-threatens-to-widen-financial-gap-between-even-the-biggest-conferences/#227a0d8b5bf2

So that being said it is still ripe for the picking.
 

HuskerNash

Recruit
2 Year Member
OK so only going to talk about the ACC part of your post. That all sounds good on paper. However you could have said the same about the Big12 yet it got raided. The SEC will always be the big dog down south. College sports in the end is about money. Of the Power 5 they are still in last.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidching/2018/04/17/big-tens-rights-deal-threatens-to-widen-financial-gap-between-even-the-biggest-conferences/#227a0d8b5bf2

So that being said it is still ripe for the picking.
ACC isn't getting absorbed. Maybe some movement, sure but raided isn't the same as absorbed. With all the dysfunctional crap that went on with the Big 12 they still survived. College athletics for competition, interest, scheduling and cost standpoint need both the Big 12 and PAC to gain strength. The football and basketball landscape are already to Eastern-centric.
 

Elwood von Kiowa

Grad Assistant
5 Year Member
Why don't they just expand to one conference with 130 teams?

I think you have WAY too much time on your hands. Conferences are finding that they are reaching the saturation point beyond 12 teams. What did the B1G gain by adding Rutgers and Maryland? You have to split the revenue pie among more schools, so everyone gets less.
 

Huskerthom

All Legend
5 Year Member
ACC isn't getting absorbed. Maybe some movement, sure but raided isn't the same as absorbed. With all the dysfunctional crap that went on with the Big 12 they still survived. College athletics for competition, interest, scheduling and cost standpoint need both the Big 12 and PAC to gain strength. The football and basketball landscape are already to Eastern-centric.
LOL you think that conference alignments are about sports and being competitive? That's cute.

As to your take on the Big 12 "surviving". Did they? Is what they have surviving? Only way they were able to survive was pulling in a team so far away from the other teams that the rest of the world said, WV...what???? You mention. Maybe some movement. Well how many teams need to go before you are no longer a conference. I could easily see the Power 5 become the power 3. Here's how. Big 12 and Pac combine while dropping a few. SEC and B1G divide the spoils of the ACC. I could see a few of them left behind as well.

Your take on the Big 12 and PAC needing to step up. One problem with that. The biggest states in the Pac 12. Cali, OR and WA do not really have rabid fan bases. They are more fair weather fans. No one in LA cares about SC or UCLA unless they are winning.
 

HuskerNash

Recruit
2 Year Member
You can think my post is cute all you want, but the ACC and the PAC are not going anywhere. I suppose the Big 12 could get absorbed but it would be better off expanded. You can begin eliminating conferences down to a Power 3 but if you then move from two to four divisions what do you really accomplish? I don't know where you or Rat are getting your information but you are both floating fantasies and I have yet to hear any credible source say that 20 team conferences or 3 Power conferences are the way to go.
 

DuckTownHusker

Blackshirt Sith Lord
5 Year Member
There are really two questions to answer in the bigger realignment discussion; the Pac-12 and the Big 12.

The B1G and SEC own the expansion/TV fight, hands down. The ACC isn't in the same league in terms of money, but they've been able to stay competitive (Clemson?) and round out the top 3 for supremacy.

If the Pac-12 wants to expand to 14 -- or eventually 16 -- teams, the only place they can go is eastward. There are precisely two teams within the current Pac-12 footprint that actually move the needle (kinda): Boise State and BYU. Hawaii, Fresno, Nevada, etc., are solid mid-majors, but the Pac-12 gains nothing from them. They already dominate the fertile California/Arizona recruiting ground with six teams in the region. Boise State is a bit of a has-been in college football. We've a long way away from Kellen Moore and the miracle bowl win over Oklahoma. BYU doesn't add anything to the recruiting ground that Utah and Colorado don't already touch, but they are a national brand and have some prestige. This ignores the LDS scheduling issues with BYU refusing to play Sunday games. That's not a deal breaker for football, but it is for basketball, baseball and pretty much any other sport.

Back when rumors were swirling about Missouri or Nebraska joining the Big Ten, Larry Scott could have dealt the death blow to the Big 12 and instead he crapped the bed. He had a chance to take the Pac-10 and scoop up the entire Big 12 South. With TAMU no longer an SEC target, you have to wonder if the Big Ten (11 teams) would have made an offer to Nebraska, Mizzou and Colorado. That move would have protected the PAC's geography by extending east and absolutely owning all the fertile recruiting ground west of the Mississippi. Imagine 90% of the CA-AZ-TX pipeline getting spread between Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and USC.

Instead, Larry Scott retreated and made one of the stupidest moves in conference TV rights. They created the Pac-12 Network as a series of six, independent mini networks that were broadcast regionally. The Pac 8/10/12 has always gone with this "matched pairs" concept (WA/WSU, OR/OSU, Cal/Stan, USC/UCLA, AZ/ASU, CO/UT) and they continued it right into their shoddy networks that only generated a fraction of the revenue the B1G and SEC gained.

Fast forward to today and Larry Scott has the opportunity to blow up the NCAA again. The Big 12 has been circling the drain, and now that the Pac is up to 12 teams, they only need four to round off to 16. TAMU is gone, but there's a potential for an all-Texas play with UT, TCU, Baylor and Tech. Or a split decision that includes UT, Oklahoma, Ok.State and either TCU or Baylor. Should that happen, except the SEC to make an offer to the remaining two.

That leaves the old Big 12 North remnants, plus West Virginia. The Mountaineers are a lock for the ACC, and they'd probably offer Notre Dame as well since the Irish compete in every other sport with the ACC. That leaves the Big Ten to scoop up two teams from Kansas, KSU and Iowa State.

The other option -- and most laughably silly one -- is that the Big 12 tries to grow a pair and expand themselves back up. You again could make a case for BYU, but who else? They're not going to double down again on the State of Texas, so say goodbye to Houston, SMU or Rice. But who else is left? Memphis? UCF? Cincinnati? There are a couple of random teams out there who add nothing more than painful travel accommodations and little-to-no revenue. Believe me, nobody is getting excited about that annual Marshall-Oklahoma showdown.

This is why I say the Big Ten needs to strike first and offer Oklahoma and Texas. Yes, I hate Texas. We all do. Like, a lot. But this is about protecting a footprint, along with increasing the luster of the brand. A Sooner-Horn deal castrates whatever nutsack is left on the Big 12 and leaves the rest of the Power 5 scrambling for sloppy seconds. I really want to watch the ACC and SEC fight over Iowa State. Imagine the Pac-12 fighting with the SEC over Texas Christian. It'll be hilarious. It also sets up the Big Ten very nicely in terms of divisional balance, both in terms of current success as well as traditional blue bloods.

West: Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Illinois
East: Purdue, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland

So we wait for the Pac 12 to inevitably strike, or we preempt them and make the Big Ten the undisputed top conference in the NCAA. I can only hope that Delany's successor is as shrewd a chess player as he.
 
Conferences are finding that they are reaching the saturation point beyond 12 teams. What did the B1G gain by adding Rutgers and Maryland? You have to split the revenue pie among more schools, so everyone gets less.
A lot of people hold this opinion, and it seems reasonable at first, but I have doubts that it is that simple. The biggest moneymaker for the conference is TV rights. Individual teams make boatloads of money off of their football program, but basketball is almost an afterthought in comparison when it comes to revenues. In order to get the big payouts for TV, there need to be households who are willing to pay extra for the B1G Network. Apparently, that has been happening, and it's been happening at a higher rate than any other conference, including the SEC. Maybe someone else can provide the map and the numbers, but somewhere on this board awhile back in a similar discussion someone posted maps and graphs that showed where the alums of various schools live after leaving college. Based on that info, a big reason why the B1G's TV network attracts a better audience is because the B1G is a much more national conference as far as where its alums end up living. It would surprise nobody that the SEC is very popular in Atlanta, but B1G alums live in large numbers in places like Los Angeles, and they have also been watching the B1G Network, and that matters.

When you look at a conference from the perspective of the footprint of its fan base, things look much more different. Rutgers and Maryland have added nothing to the quality of football in the conference (though keep in mind that a lot of B1G fans would say the same about Nebraska), but how many TV sets did the conference gain by adding them to the conference? Those are two large schools with alumni heavily distributed along the East Coast. I don't know how many are paying for access to the B1G Network, but that would be the more accurate way of measuring the worth of adding them to the conference. That is also why Nebraska has still helped the B1G: we pay to follow our team, and the league offices knew that, then and now.

With all of the above in mind, the teams that would be most attractive to be added to the conference would have to have certain characteristics:
  1. large schools = more alumni; large public institutions are more attractive than smaller private schools;
  2. schools that are outside of our current footprint are more attractive than those that would just saturate the same markets even more, i.e. North Carolina or Texas would be great, but Iowa State? Not at all;
  3. the academics matter to the school presidents, which is another part of why Notre Dame was long sought after, but the "State" schools often are not;
  4. schools who pump alums into urban areas that aren't currently a big part of the B1G market are very attractive, but that doesn't necessarily mean that that school has to be located in that urban area where the alums are living; I can't remember the statistics enough to quote them accurately, but if a hypothetical school has a huge population of alums in places like Atlanta and/or the Florida cities, it would be very attractive, even if it isn't located there;
  5. the B1G likes its reputation of having football programs that have been around for as long as possible; a school like UCF checks off a lot of the other characteristics above, so how important is this one? We might find out.
When you think in terms of alums supporting them through TV subscriptions (which is about as low-key and egalitarian as alumni support gets), the expansion map starts to look a lot different. Group of 5 schools like Houston and all of those Florida schools are much more attractive to other conferences.
 
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When discussing the future of the ACC, those who think that it's on rock solid footing are taking for granted that it will keep its current members indefinitely. It has been said that the B1G was actively pursuing Virginia and North Carolina at the time that they added Rutgers and Maryland; I could see that easily happening again. The ACC knew that it was vulnerable in this way, which was why they had added the huge buyout provision for teams who wanted to leave. Maryland will still able to be money ahead after paying that buyout because of the B1G conference money that is waiting up ahead.

If the ACC is to continue, it either needs to add in Notre Dame football or some other team with a wide-spread base. Even the Notre Dame effect would be largely neutralized because N.D. already plays a mostly ACC schedule.

On the other hand, if the B1G pries away Virginia and/or UNC? Bye, bye, ACC. Don't forget that Florida State and Miami are the Florida anchors for the ACC footprint. It's not hard to imagine the two of them leaving together to join another conference. Neither would fit in the B1G, and Florida won't want them to dilute their power in the SEC, but those would be two schools the Big 12 would love to add.
 

Huskerthom

All Legend
5 Year Member
There are really two questions to answer in the bigger realignment discussion; the Pac-12 and the Big 12.

The B1G and SEC own the expansion/TV fight, hands down. The ACC isn't in the same league in terms of money, but they've been able to stay competitive (Clemson?) and round out the top 3 for supremacy.

If the Pac-12 wants to expand to 14 -- or eventually 16 -- teams, the only place they can go is eastward. There are precisely two teams within the current Pac-12 footprint that actually move the needle (kinda): Boise State and BYU. Hawaii, Fresno, Nevada, etc., are solid mid-majors, but the Pac-12 gains nothing from them. They already dominate the fertile California/Arizona recruiting ground with six teams in the region. Boise State is a bit of a has-been in college football. We've a long way away from Kellen Moore and the miracle bowl win over Oklahoma. BYU doesn't add anything to the recruiting ground that Utah and Colorado don't already touch, but they are a national brand and have some prestige. This ignores the LDS scheduling issues with BYU refusing to play Sunday games. That's not a deal breaker for football, but it is for basketball, baseball and pretty much any other sport.

Back when rumors were swirling about Missouri or Nebraska joining the Big Ten, Larry Scott could have dealt the death blow to the Big 12 and instead he crapped the bed. He had a chance to take the Pac-10 and scoop up the entire Big 12 South. With TAMU no longer an SEC target, you have to wonder if the Big Ten (11 teams) would have made an offer to Nebraska, Mizzou and Colorado. That move would have protected the PAC's geography by extending east and absolutely owning all the fertile recruiting ground west of the Mississippi. Imagine 90% of the CA-AZ-TX pipeline getting spread between Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and USC.

Instead, Larry Scott retreated and made one of the stupidest moves in conference TV rights. They created the Pac-12 Network as a series of six, independent mini networks that were broadcast regionally. The Pac 8/10/12 has always gone with this "matched pairs" concept (WA/WSU, OR/OSU, Cal/Stan, USC/UCLA, AZ/ASU, CO/UT) and they continued it right into their shoddy networks that only generated a fraction of the revenue the B1G and SEC gained.

Fast forward to today and Larry Scott has the opportunity to blow up the NCAA again. The Big 12 has been circling the drain, and now that the Pac is up to 12 teams, they only need four to round off to 16. TAMU is gone, but there's a potential for an all-Texas play with UT, TCU, Baylor and Tech. Or a split decision that includes UT, Oklahoma, Ok.State and either TCU or Baylor. Should that happen, except the SEC to make an offer to the remaining two.

That leaves the old Big 12 North remnants, plus West Virginia. The Mountaineers are a lock for the ACC, and they'd probably offer Notre Dame as well since the Irish compete in every other sport with the ACC. That leaves the Big Ten to scoop up two teams from Kansas, KSU and Iowa State.

The other option -- and most laughably silly one -- is that the Big 12 tries to grow a pair and expand themselves back up. You again could make a case for BYU, but who else? They're not going to double down again on the State of Texas, so say goodbye to Houston, SMU or Rice. But who else is left? Memphis? UCF? Cincinnati? There are a couple of random teams out there who add nothing more than painful travel accommodations and little-to-no revenue. Believe me, nobody is getting excited about that annual Marshall-Oklahoma showdown.

This is why I say the Big Ten needs to strike first and offer Oklahoma and Texas. Yes, I hate Texas. We all do. Like, a lot. But this is about protecting a footprint, along with increasing the luster of the brand. A Sooner-Horn deal castrates whatever nutsack is left on the Big 12 and leaves the rest of the Power 5 scrambling for sloppy seconds. I really want to watch the ACC and SEC fight over Iowa State. Imagine the Pac-12 fighting with the SEC over Texas Christian. It'll be hilarious. It also sets up the Big Ten very nicely in terms of divisional balance, both in terms of current success as well as traditional blue bloods.

West: Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Illinois
East: Purdue, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland

So we wait for the Pac 12 to inevitably strike, or we preempt them and make the Big Ten the undisputed top conference in the NCAA. I can only hope that Delany's successor is as shrewd a chess player as he.
There are actually a few options for the B1G not even looking at the old Big 8/12. Syracuse, WV, BC, Louisville, Va tech, UVA all would be reasonable expansion. All could add TVs and increase the footprint in a reasonable distance. Heck the B1G might even be able to pull a coup and get Mizzou back from the SEC.

I do not see the crazy left wing leadership of the PAC taking in BYU, SMU, TCU or any other religious schools. The protests would be unbelievable at Berkeley and OR and probably UW.
 

redwinghusker

All Big 10
5 Year Member
The blog is a year old but probably still applicable.

https://frankthetank.me/2018/05/18/oh-the-places-youll-go-where-big-ten-graduates-live-and-conference-realignment/

Over the past several years analyzing conference realignment, observers have had access to some overarching data, such as TV ratings, athletic department revenue, population and demographic trends of states and metro areas, and the home states of current college students. However, up to this point, there has been only largely anecdotal and/or unreliable data on a critical piece of the conference realignment puzzle: the specific places where the graduates from each college actually live. As an Illinois graduate, I’ve long known anecdotally that my alma mater sends a critical mass of graduates to San Francisco and Seattle (generally for tech jobs due to the school’s strong engineering and computer science programs) while very few Illini move to Indianapolis despite it actually being geographically closer to campus than Chicago and St. Louis, but it has been difficult to find quantitative data to actually back that up.

This is where a new database from the Wall Street Journal fills the gap.* The Journal worked with a labor market research firm to identify the metro areas where the graduates of 445 colleges now live. It breaks down the most popular locations for the alumni for each school to move to in the United States. What’s also interesting is to see how certain locations are conspicuously devoid of particular schools’ alums, which we’ll discuss in a moment.
More at the link.
 
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