Big Ten expansion talk heats up…commissioner says no

11:04 p.m. update

WRAL: Big Ten quashes latest expansion rumors

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany e-mailed conference officials Tuesday to stamp out a rumor that four schools had already been offered a chance to join the league.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith confirmed Tuesday that Delany had quashed a report that the Big Ten had offered expansion spots to Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Rutgers.

Asked if there was anything to that speculation, Smith said, “Nothing. There’s no truth to it whatsoever. Actually, Jim sent us all an e-mail telling us there’s no truth to that – which we knew. There’s no extensions of offers that have been made, so that’s not true.”

The conference is looking at expanding from its current 11 members so that it can extend the reach of its lucrative cable network and add a league championship game in football.

This has taken off quickly. Much more quickly than the 12-18 month time table put forth by the Big Ten commissioner in an interview a couple weeks back.

Sports Radio 810 in Kansas City reported Monday that the Big Ten had made offers to Nebraska, Missouri, Notre Dame and potentially Rutgers to join its ranks. That report set off a handful of denials today. Nebraska’s Chancellor and Rutgers’ AD have both denied the initial report and Big 12 commissioner Dan Bebee said he hasn’t heard anything from Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany.

Here’s a recap of the report and the denials from Sporting News and a video from ESPN’s Pat Forde.

The most recent buzz about Big Ten expansion allows for an opportunity to look more at what other conferences are thinking of doing should all this happen. Here’s a few links worth reading if you want to get up to speed on all the potential expansion talks.

FoxSports: Making sense of expansion talk

What NFL Draft? Were there spring games (outside of Alabama)? Were there any other news stories? Every radio interview and every sports conversation I’ve had over the last few weeks surrounds the one hot topic on every college football fan’s mind … expansion and realignment.

The Big Ten sure has thrown the world into a tizzy.

I’ve been wanting to do an ASK CFN for weeks, but almost every question has been about what’s about to happen to the alignment of the college football world. Here are some of the main questions that touch on what everyone is asking about, along with some thoughts about what’s probably going to happen.

Orlando Sentinel: College Football Expansion

Now, for the latest installment of college football expansion: Big Ten speculation continues to grow, the ACC says it will be ready, and where does Arkansas go?

First, the Big Ten, of course. A radio station reported yesterday afternoon that the Big Ten had extended initial offers to Nebraska, Missouri, Rutgers and Notre Dame, sending the Internets into mass hysteria. Within an hour, the report was picked up on blogs, Twitter and every other form of media. Within two hours, Nebraska, Missouri, Rutgers and the Big Ten had issued statements denying the report. Notre Dame said it stood behind the most recent comments from AD Jack Swarbrick, who has maintained the Irish want to keep their independence.

Orlando Sentinel: Swofford says ACC will be ready

While the Big Ten and Pac-10 conferences continue to explore expansion options, Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford said here on Monday that his league will have a plan in place should major conference expansion and realignment alter the college athletics landscape.

About the possibility of major conference realignment, which could possibly affect the ACC, Swofford told the Orlando Sentinel, “I don’t think any conference would be doing its due diligence if you stuck your head in the sand, so to speak. And we will not do that.”

Swofford was speaking between conversations with officials at the ACC’s annual spring meetings, which began Monday morning and conclude on Wednesday at the Ritz-Carlton’s oceanfront resort. Officials from the league office and the ACC’s athletic directors, football and basketball coaches convened here amid an atmosphere of uncertainty unmatched in recent times.

Although Big Ten officials continue to say that plans for expansion are not in the works for another year or more, I would not be surprised to see this happen sooner. Reports are coming too fast and too often for something not to be going on behind the scenes. And make no mistake, expansion in the Big Ten will impact the ACC. It’s tough to say exactly how at this point, but it would change things. The SEC would come calling and there are ACC teams who would likely listen to offers. Swofford better not be kidding with his “head in the sand” comment or the ACC could be left out in the cold.

ACC & Other Required Reading

37 Responses to Big Ten expansion talk heats up…commissioner says no

  1. cWOhLFrPAiCKs 05/12/2010 at 12:27 PM #

    wolfbuff, it’s not that I wouldn’t love to play the high profile teams in the SEC every year at home, but those schools are also high on the list of toughest places to play on the road. With the difficulties we’ve had playing in the ACC where stadiums and crowds are considerably smaller, I can’t imagine we would fair ANY better playing in Tuscaloosa or Gainesville.

    VaWolf82, I agree with your assessment of the bball program. I’m much more excited to have this upcoming team play in the ACC next year than I would be if we were playing in the SEC. Not that I think the SEC will be a better bball conference next year, but playing Duke and Carolina every year gives us opportunities for national recognition and relevance. The way the teams are shaping up in the ACC for next year, our talent aligns us near the top, at least before we actually start playing games.

    If the ACC loses any teams to realignment in the next couple years, what are the chances we would be able to poach enough teams to create our own “Super Conference”? And if we are the last conference to act, will the teams left for us to acquire be strong enough to make said Super Conference relevant? Our will they simply water down the competition and make us more like the Big East has been?

  2. coach13 05/12/2010 at 1:53 PM #

    We could always grab EZU, they’re always slobberin to play with the ACC…losers!

  3. triadwolf 05/12/2010 at 1:59 PM #

    Coach13 – Unfortunately if the ACC gets caught with it’s pants down with this whole thing, EZU just might be a legit option to keep 12 teams in the league. I really, really hope that doesn’t happen!

  4. nav 05/12/2010 at 2:09 PM #

    If I am the SEC, other than Texas, I would go after UNC. Adding the UNC brand to the SEC and all the nationwide fans they hold along with the many NC fans would be a great addition. Instead of Duke-Carolina they could then promote UK-UNC rivalry in bb and I’m sure Butchy would love going to the SEC and being on TV all the time.

  5. GAWolf 05/12/2010 at 3:55 PM #

    Ugg… I would think if any ONE team from NC goes to the SEC they would immediately see a huge boost in football recruiting over the remaining ACC schools.

  6. coach13 05/12/2010 at 4:11 PM #

    Hey…SEC can take EZU!

  7. coach13 05/12/2010 at 4:11 PM #

    Seriously, I don’t see us, Duke or UNC as an SEC option.

  8. LRM 05/12/2010 at 7:26 PM #

    “Of course, anyone that thinks that State would even be on the second tier of schools that the SEC would like to add is just being silly. State wouldn’t add anything athletically or significant TV viewers to the SEC.”

    Va, I don’t think we’d ever come into the conversation. However, if they want to expand their TV market, then it *seems to me* that adding a team from NC or VA makes more sense than expanding in states where they already have a footprint. But with that said, NONE of this expansion talk makes sense to me, at least nothing beyond 12 teams. A large part of the SEC’s marketability is that every year they offer intriguing match ups between traditional cross-divisional rivals (LSU-Florida, Georgia-Auburn, Tennessee-Bama, LSU-Georgia); expanding to 14 (or especially) 16 teams would only serve to dillute this model, because it could be as many as eight years between cross-divisional match-ups, and would be quite unlikely that even all intra-divisional teams would meet every year.

    When this is all said and done,college football is going to look very different, and possibly not for the better.

  9. 61Packer 05/12/2010 at 7:56 PM #

    If anyone leaves the ACC for the SEC, I hope it’s Florida State, Miami and Georgia Tech. The Florida market was never ACC territory, and our teams seldom win in football down there, not to mention how badly FSU has beaten this league down in the past two decades. Plus, the ACC tourney is a financial and spectator bust every time it’s held in Florida.

    I’d like to see Georgia Tech out of the ACC so we could get our basketball tourney back here and keep it where it belongs, in Greensboro, plus our football title game would come north where more fans could go (i.e. Charlotte or DC). In my opinion, Atlanta never was and never will be an ACC market as long as there’s an SEC.

    Imagine an ACC with the Big Four, Clemson, Maryland, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Imagine playing all your opponents every year in football and twice a year in basketball. Imagine five non-conference football games against decent opposition. Imagine no more road games in Boston, Tallahassee or Miami in basketball. Imagine the average ACC fan being able to drive to all away ACC games and have a decent chance to get tickets to any of the road games. Imagine a 3-day ACC tourney where the fans again care, and buy lots of tickets.

    The ACC brass can poo-poo these comments all they want to, but if they continue their quest to expand more and more, the average fan is going to be completely shut out of the ticket process for their schools, plus the schools will lose money because those who can afford tickets will have had enough of a watered-down league where rivalries have been all but killed off. To wit: why do we keep going to Boston every other year while we go to Durham only once every five years?

  10. 61Packer 05/12/2010 at 8:00 PM #

    And yes, I know that you couldn’t have a league championship game with only 8 teams in the conference, but unless the league gets this game out of Florida, it’ll never be well-attended by most ACC fans, especially in early December.

  11. Sam92 05/13/2010 at 9:47 AM #

    61packer, those are actually some good points, but for sure and certain if it unfolds that way, we are talking about a second tier conference of midatlantic states that will never be in contention for a national championship in football (basketball may be a different story, but personally football is what i care about).

    p.s., in addition to not playing the best competition, the reason a diminished ACC will never produce a national champion in football is that once the SEC, Big Ten and PAC-10 expand, they will get all the best recruits – who want to be seen on national television.

  12. Sam92 05/13/2010 at 9:58 AM #

    one other thought – i am pretty worried that the SEC will grab Miami and Florida State, but maybe Florida doesn’t want them in the SEC and would veto that move?

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