The ACC should raid Big XII, not Big East

With sources reporting that Oklahoma and Texas (along with Oklahoma State and Texas Tech) are in discussions to soon turn the Pac-12 into the Pac-16, it looks like the Big XII will soon become extinct.

It’s hard to believe that one of the two original superconferences will become irrelevant sooner than the ACC or Big East.

Think about it: Within a few years of the Big XII forming in 1996 — when remnants of the once-proud Southwestern conference merged with the Big Eight — it was obvious that the Big XII would partner with the SEC as college football’s elite. Nebraska won its third national title of the decade in 1997 (although 1994 and 1995 were as part of the Big Eight) and would play for another in 2001 (loss to Miami); Oklahoma, rejuvenated under Bob Stoops after a decade of mediocrity, won the national title in 2000; Texas was again on the rise under Mack Brown; and Kansas State under Bill Snyder had become a perrenial Top 10 team towards the late 90s.

Yet, 15 years later, Oklahoma — arguably the best overall program of the past decade — will determine if the Big XII will soon become defunct. Oklahoma president David Boren riled up his Big XII counterparts when he said “multiple conferences” have shown interest in the Sooners, and he plans to make a decision about Oklahoma’s future as part of the Big XII very soon (possibly as soon as this week). The dominoes started — this round, anyway — last year when Nebraska and Colorado, both looking for better deals away from the suddenly Texas-centric Big XII (which actually includes Oklahoma), left for the Big Ten and Pac-12, respectively. Texas A&M has officially announced it will leave (likely for the SEC), and we’ve all believed that Texas would eventually pursue football independence in order to capitalize on its Longhorns Network (produced by ESPN, naturally).

Even without Texas A&M, the Big XII could possibly work out an arrangement to remain viable, especially if they return to 12 members with a combination of Air Force, BYU, Houston, SMU, TCU (set to join the Big East in 2012) and/or Boise State; with Notre Dame, the conference could likely survive with 10. But it’s inarguable that the Big XII can survive without Oklahoma and Texas, at least not as part of the BCS.

As for “multiple conferences,” in addition to the Pac-12, the SEC has also probably contacted Oklahoma about becoming its 14th member, along with Texas A&M; and the Big Ten could be looking to re-unite the Oklahoma-Nebraska rivalry. If/when the Oklahoma and Texas schools leave the Big XII, then the rise of four 16-team superconferences is inevitable, and the remaining Big XII teams will immediately be in play, as well as several Big East and ACC teams as the SEC and Big Ten look to solidify their positions against one another. Syracuse (“New York’s College Team” as a banner pronounced during the Wake game), Pittsburgh, Rutgers, and perhaps even Maryland and Boston College seem to be in play for the Big Ten, while the SEC would probably look first to Missouri, and then maybe Florida State, Virginia Tech and possibly even a North Carolina school.

The uncertainty: how will it all play out, and how will the fallout affect the relevance of the ACC as part of the BCS?

Personally, I don’t think the right response is solely raiding the Big East again this time around. Instead, the ACC should be proactive: As I suggested recently, the ACC should start by looking west to Oklahoma and its Texas TV markets and recruiting inroads, and then go from there (this may include Missouri and/or one or more Big East members). Geography, rivalries, culture and tradition no longer matter, at least not to the conference presidents, and expansion is entirely football-centric; basketball revenue is significantly less than football.

College football TV revenues (including the BCS) are dictating a new structure for college football. The simple reality is, the cozy southeastern basketball conference most of us grew up with will soon have to look very different in order to survive, and the ACC leadership needs to recognize what it will take to remain relevant in the BCS and maximize the potential to re-negotiate the next TV deal. What I expect to eventually see is a structure with less emphasis on divisions; when you consider that a 16-team conference — even with nine conference games — would only have two interdivisional games available each year, it may be a decade between seeing other teams within your own conference. But we can be certain that logistics are peripheral to the mega-millions in TV revenues driving this.

Perhaps the Sooners wouldn’t even consider the ACC, but I think pursuing Oklahoma would be the right place for the ACC to start the expansion process.

About LRM

Charter member of the Lunatic Fringe and a fan, loyal to a fault.

ACC & Other

40 Responses to The ACC should raid Big XII, not Big East

  1. Wolfy__79 09/05/2011 at 5:40 PM #

    yikes, i hope the super conferences never come to be… BUT.. one thing that may come from this is a college football playoff so i guess for me there are some positives!? i’m not for conferences getting to 16+ teams but it’s way out of my control.

  2. packalum44 09/05/2011 at 5:48 PM #

    Admittedly I’m an east coast guy through and through. Heck I’ve only been to the west coast 3 times. But count me in the crowd that doesn’t understand what huge appeal the PAC 10 has to offer over the ACC…except a monopoly on the entire left coast.

  3. 61Packer 09/05/2011 at 6:12 PM #

    If the ACC simply MUST expand, then the most logical additions, in order, would be West Virginia, South Florida, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Rutgers, Louisville and Cincinnati.

    Many, if not most, of the transplants in Big Four country come from up and down the East Coast, not from west of the mountains. Migration patterns have generally followed this pattern for a long time. Fan bases for the Big XII schools are found almost exclusively in areas far removed from the heart of ACC country, if we still even have a heart. For now, let’s call it Greensboro. The Big XII is a far better conference than the Big East, but for every Big XII fan you find here, I’ll show you 5 fans from the Big East. A conference stretching from Boston to Miami is stupid enough, but one that stretched from Raleigh to Oklahoma City would make even less sense. You’d be jumping across SEC territory to get to the Big XII, while the ACC and Big East join each other.

    I hate the Big East almost as much as I hate expansion. For now, I hope the ACC has the good sense to stay put, even if we lose teams to SEC expansion. I wish FSU and especially Miami would go, but we’re stuck with Miami. Like the old song goes, “Thank you, John!”

    Longstanding conference rivalries are being torn apart by this urgency to expand. It’s like a cakewalk- everyone is terrified that when the music stops, they’ll be the one without a chair. The ACC should NEVER have expanded after bringing in GT as our 8th team to replace S. Carolina. Florida State has destroyed this league’s football reputation by murdering all our other teams for over a decade, and they may be on the verge of doing it again. Miami and now UNC are going to tarnish our generally clean image with the cheating and agent scandals, and all we need now is to bring in yet more teams to ruin our conference schedules. Schools like NCSU, Wake Forest and UVA would especially be hurt by additions; we’d be the ones picked to play the more undesirable teams added (just like in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge), while the bigger-named schools like Duke, UNC, Maryland, FSU and probably GT would get better opponents on their schedule. For that you would be able to again thank John Swofford.

  4. tcthdi-tgsf-twhwtnc 09/05/2011 at 6:17 PM #

    From what I’ve seen on PBS this entire fiasco goes back to baseball’s Boston Braves leaving for Milwaukee. The move was made at the expense of a taxpayer funded field, in a lame attempt to move baseball from a regional sport to a national sport.

    In a real market you wouldn’t have basketball in the west, hockey in the south, soccer in the east, football in the northwest, or baseball in Canada. Without the support of public university’s money, taxpayer funded fuh’cil’tees, government mandates, or profit sharing all these sports would be regional.

    I can assure you without the redistribution of funds there would be few women’s sports. Seriously, have you ever watched an entire WNBA game? No? You are not alone, I have never met anyone that has.

  5. ClassOf95 09/05/2011 at 6:53 PM #

    I would be interested in hearing some thought out reasons as to why many of you think John Swofford is doing/has done a bad job. Not saying he’s good but what impact does he have on NC State?. In what way has the league unfairly treated some schools (i.e. State?) I don’t see how the league has any impact in teams winning and losing. The ACC doesn’t make out out-of-conference schedules. They set the ACC-Big 10 parings based on how good the teams are right? Why would we expect to play a top ranked Big 10 team if we have a sorry record? Having a business degree from our school I know enough to know that you promote your most marketable products and for the ACC that’s unc and Duke in bball and for now Florida State and Va Tech in football. If the rest of us want respect and to get the “push,” I suggest we get off our asses and earn it.

  6. tcthdi-tgsf-twhwtnc 09/05/2011 at 7:07 PM #

    I would be interested in hearing some thought out reasons as to why many of you think John Swofford is doing/has done a bad job.


  7. grizzlyman 09/05/2011 at 7:24 PM #

    The ACC needs to move now. If The Swoff waits he’ll be sucking hind tit, and probably out of the BCS. Its pretty clear super conferences are coming. The ACC can be poached or be poachers.
    The Swoff will probably wait, and angle for the best deal for UNX and Duke though. And, all will be lost for the “Prodigal Son”, if they don’t find a new home first. (They are UNX)
    I’m all for saving the ACC. I don’t know how it survives if it waits for the Pac-16 and/or a 16 team SEC. The Swoff needs to be identifying potential quality members and signing them up post haste.
    The wild card is ESPN. They basicly are buying the rights to the football games. It would be easy for them to manipulate how they want the conference landscape to turn out.

  8. 61Packer 09/05/2011 at 7:59 PM #

    The wild card may not be ESPN as suggested above, but instead the many fans who buy season tickets each year. If the ACC expands, it will almost certainly be taking in a collection of Big East teams. How much interest would a Wolfpack conference football schedule generate if it consisted of, say, Wake Forest, Boston College, Syracuse, Louisville, Maryland, Clemson, Rutgers and UNC? West Virginia and Pitt, the two most desirable additions, would certainly end up in the Coastal Division with VT and UVA. I’m not including FSU because I believe they’d bolt the ACC for the SEC, and that could happen. I hope it does!

    And for basketball, you can bet we’d end up not playing Syracuse and Louisville on a regular basis, who’d be paired up by ESPN for games vs UNC, Duke, Maryland, BC and UVA. Thus, our games vs Duke would come even less often as we’d probably never play them twice in a regular season anymore.

    Basically, the larger the ACC gets, the more insignificant teams like NC State become. Money can buy a lot of things, but it can’t buy a rivalry.

  9. ClassOf95 09/05/2011 at 8:08 PM #

    Hey Pat Morita, I was about to ask you your opinion and then I read your last post. Never mind. Not interested.

  10. grizzlyman 09/05/2011 at 8:45 PM #

    Lack of Institutional leadership has put NC State behind the “Blews.” Otherwise NC State could be the lead school to save the ACC. Basically for the past decade, the Seminoles haven’t been the SEMINOLES, and VT has held their own since joining, and the rest of the conference hasn’t been in BCS talk.
    Football is driving this bus, and if I’m DY, I’m listening to anyone who is offering. Also, If I’m DY I hope I know all about the ACC’s plan to expand and remain relevant. But I have doubts, the selling point to the FSU’s and VT’s is “The BCS is easier from here than the SEC.” I guess the selling point to the rest of league will be, “We’re not the SoCon yet.” That doesn’t instill confidence it the ACC.
    FSU and VT seem to be the cream of the crop again, and most visible targets of other conferences.

    I’d be interested from those who know how the ACC TV money stacks up until the next contract.
    I’d love to see the ACC emerge great and strong, but I have no confidence in the ACC Brass to make that happen. I am afraid the ACC will end up being the next, stronger A10. If NCSU has a chance to find a BCS home, it should go. If The ACC makes that happen great, but I haven’t seen anything to make me think the ACC will be BCS relevant long term.

  11. tcthdi-tgsf-twhwtnc 09/05/2011 at 10:00 PM #

    Yes, if State just had better “planners” making the plans, the plans would of been better. Maybe if State can hire more expensive planners to create new plans, more perfect plans, the plans will come together.

    After 120 years, NC State’s planners still can’t figure out how to turn a profit. Maybe they just need a few more bucks, buildings, and bodies and they will find a way to turn a profit, or gain “global recognition”, for their perfect plans.

  12. gotohe11carolina 09/05/2011 at 10:52 PM #

    can’t we just uncouple the basketball train fro the nightmare that football is becoming. to be honest I could really care less what football conference we are in. let’s hope the schools dump the ncaa in football leaving basketball to to back to normal

  13. tvp1 09/05/2011 at 11:08 PM #

    LRM: You may have had the right idea but the wrong school.

    But if the Big 12 comes apart, another way for Texas to hold onto LHN may be joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, two sources close to the situation said Monday. ESPN holds the TV rights in the ACC and also owns and operates LHN.

    But the ACC would only come into play if Oklahoma left for the Pac-12 and the Big 12 busted up, sources said.

    One source close to the situation said the ACC, which is trying to fend off a potential raid by the Southeastern Conference (Virginia Tech continues to be mentioned by sources as an SEC target), would possibly look to add Texas, Syracuse, Connecticut and Rutgers to grow to 16.

  14. CannonballJunior 09/06/2011 at 10:44 AM #

    Personally, I think this whole superconference idea is an ill-fated move to reinvent the wheel by clever “smartest guy in the room” types.

    We may well be going to super-conferences in the next year or so. But I predict that 10 to at most 20 years from now – probably more like 10 -the superconferences will break up and go back to smaller leagues.

  15. dindc 09/09/2011 at 4:00 PM #

    “Oklahoma and its Texas TV markets”??

    Oklahoma and Texas are two totally separate states, and OU and UT have been bitter rivals since they started playing football out there. OU (from the State of Oklahoma) has no, zero, nada TV markets in the State of Texas. That’s like saying NC State has TV markets in Tennessee. And the population of Oklahoma is small (with loyalties split between OU and OK State) and it’s not worth much to any television networks. There may be a Longhorns Network, but I guarantee you’ll never see a Sooners Network.

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