All Eyes on Missouri Today
The future of the Big 12 and perhaps the SEC and Big East will be known at 12:00CT today, when Missouri will hold it’s curators meeting to discuss their future conference situation. On the table are the same two options we’ve heard for the past few weeks: remain in the Big 12 or make a push for the SEC as the #14 school.
On paper, it would seem like an easy decision. The SEC IS college football, the best in the nation. The conference is stable with large per-school revenue payouts. For the SEC, Missouri offers even more penetration into Big 12 country (in addition to Texas A&M) and into Kansas City and helps the SEC make it’s way into Big Ten territory via the statewide appeal of the program and into St. Louis. These markets would help the overall viewership of the SEC and be a huge boost to a potential SEC Network.
For Missouri in the Big 12, the benefits are less tangible. It would be less money. It would mean remaining in a conference that two years in a row has nearly fallen apart. And if the Big 12 fell apart and Missouri passed on the SEC, it is doubtful that opportunity would present itself again, nor a coveted Big Ten invitation. What Missouri would get would be to maintain rivalries with nearby Iowa St., Kansas, Kansas St., and the connection to Oklahoma and Texas.
Yet, based on comments this weekend, it appears Missouri is leaning towards remaining in the Big 12.
So within a few hours, we should know the fate of a number of conferences.
Various reports claim that if Missouri remains in the Big 12, that the Big 12 might be adding BYU, TCU and Louisville.
The result would be the Big East down to 5 members: WVU, Uconn, Rutgers, Cincinnati and USF. So even as the Big East has lined up talks with UCF, SMU, Air Force for all-sports, Temple for either football-only or all-sports, and Navy for football-only, the Big East would need to look at adding all of these schools or others currently not on the list (such as ECU, Memphis, Houston).
If spurned by Missouri, the SEC might then very likely invite WVU to be the #14 school, another blow to the Big East.
And if Missouri were to leave the Big 12 for the SEC, there remains a strong chance that the Big 12 could invite BYU, TCU, Louisville and WVU. This would result in the Big East being down to Uconn, Rutgers, Cincinnati and USF. And at this point, one has to wonder if the Big East would even both with expansion since it would require the conference to invite 5-6 schools to get back to 9 or reach the number 10 they had set out for late in 2010.
If you’re the Big East basketball schools, how thrilled would you be having to add SMU, Houston, UCF, Temple, Air Force for all-sports and Navy or ECU for football-only? It would seem that if the Big East were down to 4 members, you’ll start hearing talks of UCF and perhaps even Cincinnati joining CUSA for all-sports and Uconn and Rutgers for football-only. Or course at this point, CUSA might have more cache than the Big East and require all-sports membership. Uconn and Rutgers would then be forced with the choice: join CUSA for all-sports or approach the MAC or Sunbelt for football-only…or participate as independents.
Which brings us to Notre Dame.
Notre Dame has passed on full membership as the Big East has served their needs for non-football sports while allowing them to preserve independence in football.
But if the Big East falls apart, all the large football schools, is Notre Dame going to remain with the 7 small private/catholic schools? Likely not.
So if the Big 12 opts to take 3 Big East schools, Notre Dame might be forced to make the all-sports move to the ACC…and option they would likely prefer over the Big Ten due to northeast market exposure (Boston College, Syracuse, Pittsburgh) as well as southern recruiting benefits of ACC membership.
And it is believed that once the ACC has a final decision from Notre Dame, that Uconn would be in the mix. So if Notre Dame joins for #15, Uconn would be brought in for #16. And if Notre Dame officially passes on the ACC, the Uconn and Rutgers would likely be brought in for the 15 and 16 spots.
The result again: Big East destruction.
In the perfect world, Missouri will announce they are remaining in the Big 12 and that the Big 12 opts to remain at 9. And if they were to expand, adding now independent BYU for #10 would keep the conference shifts minimal. But even this would require the SEC to pass on a #14 school and for the Big East current 7 football schools to remain together.