Saturday, September 17, 2011

What Would Be Best For Big East and Big XII Schools?

Okay, with word that Syracuse and Pittsburgh have applied to become a member of the ACC, it all but signals the end of either the Big East or Big XII. The first punch has been thrown and the Big East is stumbling. The Big XII is waiting on what Oklahoma is going to do ... and with the ACC making their move it is all but certain that the Big XII is in trouble.

So what should the members of each conference do? Let's start with the Big East:

CONNECTICUT: UConn is in an enviable position. With their proximity to New York City, their recent BCS bowl appearance and their top level basketball program, the Huskies will be highly sought after and could pick where they want to go instead of settling. The Big Ten could come calling (they are going to have to find 4 teams somewhere to form their super-conference). The ACC most certainly will. Money-wise, it makes sense to go to the Big Ten, but for the program, the ACC fits better.

WEST VIRGINIA: If the SEC is adding a 14th member, West Virginia should top their list. This recent move by Pitt and Syracuse should move this along.

RUTGERS: Despite not really being a elite program in either football or basketball, Rutgers will be sought after by both the Big Ten and ACC. They fit both conference's academic priorities and bring the NYC crowd with them. I think the Big Ten wins out if they do decide to expand. If not, they will be an ACC school.

LOUISVILLE: L'ville is in a real interesting situation. I could see the ACC trying to lure them in, along with UConn, to join their league. L'ville has the hoops pedigree that would really mesh with the ACC and a, at times, decent football program. I doubt the Big Ten would be interested, but there's a chance. If the ACC doesn't come calling, Louisville could be forced to stay in the Big East and be in the same boat as South Florida (see below).

SOUTH FLORIDA: USF is in a tough spot. No one really needs them at all. The ACC and SEC already have members in Florida and I doubt the Big Ten is interested (though they could be). The Bulls may have to hope the Big East rebuilds using scraps from other conferences (some Big XII leftovers, MAC and C-USA).

CINCINNATI: The Bearcats are in the same boat. The Big Ten won't want them for several reasons and between them, Rutgers and Louisville, they are the ACC's last choice. If no ACC invite happens, Cincy may have to be part of a rebuilt Big East.

TCU: Awwww man! TCU finally made it to the big time by agreeing to join the Big East in 2012. However, if the Big East gets slammed during realignment then they should lose their BCS standing. Now TCU is in complete limbo. They can't crawl back to the Mountain West, can they? Anyone else could come calling. The SEC could try to lure them in to get a partner for Texas A&M, though that would hurt the Aggies program by having a second Texas school. The Pac-12 could be interested if Texas and Texas Tech aren't coming. I think the Big Ten would be the most interesting option. They fit the conference's academic profile and would get the Big Ten into Texas.

NOTRE DAME: Now, this isn't that much of a big deal to the Irish. If Notre Dame does decide to become a member of a conference football-wise, the Big Ten makes all the sense in the world. But Notre Dame likes their independent status and it feels stronger than ever about that. So it could stay in the Big East as a non-football member and still enjoy what will be a decent hoops conference (Georgetown, St. John's, Providence, DePaul, Marquette, Villanova and Seton Hall with possibly Louisville and/or Cincinnati staying). Notre Dame stays.

Now, let's look at what the Big XII schools may end up doing.

OKLAHOMA: Barring something unforseen, the Sooners are heading to the Pac-12/14/16. With the Big XII so shaky, Oklahoma is in the driver's seat to create their own destiny.

OKLAHOMA STATE: They will go with Oklahoma.

TEXAS: The Horns would rather not go west, but they may end up having to if they want to stay in a conference. Though they were talking with the ACC, it seems that the ACC is going in a different direction. The SEC would probably not happen with the bad blood with Texas A&M. I think Texas' best move would be stay independent in football and join the Big East in basketball, ala Notre Dame. If they don't think they could pull that off, they will be joining the Oklahoma schools in the Pac-16.

TEXAS TECH: Tech sure hopes so, and they would benefit by joining them. If Texas doesn't do that, Tech could be in some trouble. The Pac-16 could still be interested, but it could be unlikely. The SEC could be interested if they want to get another Texas team. Tech is truly up in the air.

MISSOURI: The Tigers are actually in a good spot. They fit in both the SEC and Big Ten and both should inquire about them. They'd make more sense in the Big Ten, though the prestige of the SEC would be too much to pass up.

KANSAS: Imagine the Jayhawks basketball program having nowhere to go. The Big Ten may add them, though it wouldn't want K State tagging along. If the Big Ten is scrambling to add a 16th team, they may have to. The SEC probably ain't happening. Kansas could just join that revamped Big East. If not, the Mountain West may be the way to go.

KANSAS STATE: K State is hoping they get to go where Kansas goes. That would most likely mean the new Big East, though that isn't a given. None of the super conferences are all that interested in the Wildcats. They could see if the Mountain West or WAC could use them.

BAYLOR: Baylor, along with Iowa State, has already asked the Big East to take a look at them if they are trying to rebuild their football league. That could happen, despite the want for Iowa State, just so they can field a football conference and not watch Louisville, Cincinnati and TCU leave. If not, the Mountain West would be the best bet.

IOWA STATE: Sorry to say this, but no one wants Iowa State. The Big East could lob them a call just so they can have a football conference. The Mountain West could be interested if they want to get to a 12-16 team league.

This all should mean the Big XII is done. Unless Oklahoma and Texas decide to stick it out (which doesn't seem likely), this conference is gone. The extras will most likely merge with the Big East and form a loose football conference yet keep their lofty basketball league. A football conference could look like this: Baylor, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisville and South Florida with the league looking to add someone else. Temple? Marshall? East Carolina? Someone will jump at it. The basketball league would be interesting as well:

EAST: Georgetown, Notre Dame, Providence, Seton Hall, South Florida, St. John's, Villanova, Temple/Marshall, ECU
WEST: Baylor, Cincinnati, DePaul, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisville, Marquette

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