Magnifying the Expansion Part 4: Now I’m Yelling Dominoes

We laid the foundation with our last 3 post for the Big 10 expansion.  Now let’s talk about how other conferences are reacting.  Some of them could be massively depleted whereas others are moving to counteract the possible Big 10 growth.  Every major BCS conference has about two cents to toss in and little brother mid major conferences are chirping in as well.  It’s time for the conferences to lay down their tiles and see just how much they could change.

The mid major conferences grabbed the spotlight the last couple of seasons due to some undefeated performances by schools like Boise State and Utah.  Their major beef is the fact that even though they ran the table, the mid major school couldn’t get a seat at the table for the BCS National Championship game.  The beef even found itself at the foots of Congress.  So what will a massive expansion scenario do to these conferences?  Well, if major conferences lose some teams, then they will turn to the mid majors for replacements.  The superstar teams will get a shot at a title and better competition.  Will that stop them from complaining?  Probably not, but it will be an upgrade to the schools that deserve a shot.

Speaking of superstars, the SEC currently stands tall as the best football conference across the nation.  Last year they secured a fat contract with ESPN and CBS to exclusively show their games.  The threat of expansion doesn’t seem to affect them at all.  Speculation has them grabbing Texas or some ACC school, but the commish cooled the waters by stating that they are monitoring the situation and will react accordingly.  What that means, we’re not sure but if they feel threatened it sounds like they will shoot first and ask questions later.  Right now they are not threatened, thanks to a frontrunning ego.

The ACC does have some threat mentioned above, but they are looking more stable week after week.  The ACC is a basketball conference.  Maybe one day they will return to a mega power status, with the help of Virginia Tech, Miami, and Florida State.  That didn’t stop ESPN from dropping double the expected amount of cash for a TV deal.  Sure, the Bristol Boys ponied down for the basketball rights, but if football comes around they have the arena to showcase it in.  There’s always a chance to move, but for a team in this conference, the price will be a heavy one.

Way over on the west coast we have the traditional buddies of the Big 10 in the Pac 10.  The two conferences are the only major conferences without a title game.  If the Big 10 decides to up the team limit and have a title game, the Pac 10 would then fall lock in step with their eastern cousin.  One juicy rumor has Colorado being a likely candidate but we’ve also heard Boise State and Texas (everyone wants Texas).  The Pac 10 owns the Rose Bowl, the traditional bowl game with the exclusive BCS rule that states a Pac 10 team and Big 10 team must play unless the BCS National Championship gets in the way.  They could also react negatively and use the Rose Bowl a negotiating peice to deter the Big 10 from expanding.  Media negotiations are coming up and they need to have some solid ground to deal on.

That ground may be shared by the Big 12.  Everyone’s favorite scenario somehow includes the Big 12 blowing up.  It makes sense.  The Big 12 came to life when the Big 8 brought  4 Southwest Conference teams into the fold in the early 90’s.  The conference is young and scrappy, just ripe for the picking.  Missouri, Nebraska, and Colorado are thought to be ready to jump ship.  Commissioner Dan Beebe has other plans.  They also have media contracts to negotiate in the near future.  The Big 12 and Pac 10 enjoy a yearly hardwood series in basketball.  Bebee flew to the Pac 10 meetings in the hope of extending their partnership, both to football and media deals, with the Pac 10.  One thing is for sure, change will happen to the Big 12 but it won’t go away.

The one conference that could go away is the Big East.  The Big East is shaky at best right now.  When some teams left for the ACC, the football part of the conference took a major hit.  Like the ACC, the Big East is a basketball conference.  The difference between the Big East and the ACC is they act as a hybrid conference.  Where they have 16 teams in basketball, they have 8 in football.  The rumor mills produced Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Rutgers as candidates for the Big 10 expansion, mainly for the television footprint of New York state.  We don’t think they can handle a massive reconstruction like they experienced in 2005.  If more than 2 teams go, we can hear the Mortal Kombat voice guy yell “FINISH HIM”  to the football part of the Big East.

It’s possible that a major domino effect could roll across the college football landscape if the Big 10 goes balls out and picks up 14 or 16 teams.  Notice we didn’t mention Notre Dame.  The Fighting Irish are not a conference but the last independent nonmilitary school participating in the FBS division.  We’ll talk more about the Fighting Irish tomorrow when we run down all of the candidates for Big 10 expansion.  Needless to say the tiles are wobbling in each part of the nation and we’re sure to find out which ones fall and which ones stay standing in the next couple of weeks, months, or maybe years.