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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2003 6:29 pm 
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The Conference Realignment & Expansion Chronicles

Part 3: The First Move, Proactive & Reactive Conferences, Small But Stable

A) The First Move: Could the Mountain West Conference make an announcement before the ACC?
B) A Proactive Big Ten = a Reactive Pac 10
C) Small But Stable

The First Move:
Could the Mountain West Conference make an announcement before the ACC?

Mountain West Conference officials have been discussing expansion prior to the start of the ACC rumors. Fresno State has topped their list for some time, and might be followed up by Hawaii, despite the distance of the school. A strong Boise State school has moved it’s way close to a tie with Hawaii according to officials, but there has been nothing to indicate that the Mountain West will even decide to expand by more than 1 team. They have taken a careful approach to expansion and have worked with the BCS so that moves are only made that could help them reach BCS status. Anything else would just be diluting the current revenues. So look for the Mountain West to expand by just one: Fresno State. Boise State and Hawaii might not be far behind, but unless there is a viable 4th option (to expand to 12) there are just no benefits. Unless Utah State is able to make a strong run with their new Sunbelt membership, they won’t be considered either.

Mountain West:
Colorado St
Air Force
New Mexico
San Diego State
*Fresno State

What does this mean for the WAC? No different than if CUSA came calling: they’d be forced to raid the Sunbelt for replacements such as Utah State, New Mexico State and others. It’s doubtful that the WAC will ever look to increase beyond 8 – 10 schools unless there was an all out merger with the Sunbelt football schools.

A Proactive Big Ten…
To the casual observer, the Miami situation looks to have the most impact. But while all this is going on, you have the Big Ten, sitting there at 11 schools. The Pac Ten has stated that they will only look to expand if the Big Ten does first. The Big Ten is rumored to be making one last push for Notre Dame. If that fails, Pittsburgh and Missouri will be available for invites.

Ripples will still form if this happened. Either the Big East/New Conference would need a replacement for Pitt or the Big 12 would need one of Missouri. With that, CUSA, MWC or WAC might be looking for replacements, and so on. Eventually, the lowest rated conference will be the one short a member, and that looks to be the Sunbelt, with the MAC not far behind if someone has interest in Toledo or Ohio.

Big Ten:
*Missouri / Pittsburgh / Louisville / Notre Dame / Iowa State

Michigan State
Penn State
Ohio State

Big East:
If Pitt left, it would probably be at the same time as Miami, Syracuse and BC. So any new Big East football conference would need a need an additional member from CUSA or MAC.

Big 12:
If Missouri left would add either UTEP, Colorado St, Utah, BYU, Louisville, etc

If Colorado St, Utah, BYU left for the Big 12, MWC would add either Fresno St, Hawaii, UTEP, Boise State

If Louisville left for Big Ten or Big 12, would add Marshall or a WAC school.

If UTEP, Fresno St, Boise State, UTEP or Hawaii left, would add Utah State, New Mexico State, Idaho, or any Sunbelt school.

…a Reactive Pac 10
If the Pac 10 expanded to 12, the MWC would be the first target, unless the conference preferred Fresno State, Hawaii or Boise State. In a PC climate, it wouldn’t be surprising to see pressure put on the California schools by the state to push hard for San Diego State and Fresno State. Chances are that Utah, BYU, San Diego State, UNLV and Colorado State would top that list unless the PAC 10 could convince Colorado to join. This would start a chain reaction moving west to east.

Pac 10
Washington St
Oregon St
*Utah / Colorado St / BYU / UNLV
*Fresno St / Hawaii / San Diego State/ New Mexico

Arizona State

If this happened…

If Colorado St, Utah, BYU. San Diego St, UNLV left for the Pac 10, would add either Fresno St, Hawaii, UTEP, Boise State

If UTEP, Fresno St, Boise State, UTEP or Hawaii left for MWC or PAC 10, would add Utah State, New Mexico State, Idaho, or any Sunbelt school.

For the Big Ten and Pac 10 to expand it is fairly simple when comparing it to the effects Miami, Syracuse and BC joining the ACC could have. The movement is more limited and doesn’t involve the quantity of teams since the (2) conferences only have room for 1 and 2 schools.

Nonetheless, when the Big Ten expands to 12, it will turn on the green light for the Pac 10 and when all is said and done there will be movement by quite a few teams: 1 from CUSA/Big East/Big 12 to the Big Ten, 1 from CUSA/Big East/Big 12 to replace the school leaving for the Big Ten, 1 to replace that team in CUSA/WAC/MWC, and so on. The same pattern exists for the Pac 10.

Small In Stature, But Stable
During all the expansion rumors there’s one conference that you never hear about. No it’s not the SEC…there are fans who think they should expand to 14 and add Texas and Texas A&M. The Big 12? No, many have the same theory regarding potential benefits for a 14 team league. The conference least likely to feel any ill effects is the MAC.

The MAC, a 16 team conference nested in the middle of Big Ten country COULD lose Marshall to CUSA, the Big East or a new conference. And they COULD lose Central Florida to any of the same leagues. And they could even lose 4-6 teams to the new 1-A criteria. But even if all of these scenarios played out, they’d still have 8-10 teams that will continue to play 1A football in an all sports conference. The effects won’t even be too harsh, outside of losing perennial conference powerhouse Marshall. They’d be losing a football only member in UCF, and potentially losing their weakest football programs to the new 1-A criteria.

In a sea of uncertainty, where the Big Boys hold all the power, it’s one of the little guys who will remain in the end, and not the conference of this years basketball champion and 2001 football champion.

also read...

Part 1: The ACC Power Holders

Part 2: The Ripple Effect in 1A Football Conferences - ACC->Big East->CUSA->WAC

Part 3: The First Move, Proactive & Reactive Conferences, Small But Stable

Part 4: Hoops Galore: A10, CAA, AE, Sunbelt, Missouri Valley conferences react

Grid Of Realignment Possibilities

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Last edited by Quinn on Wed May 21, 2003 1:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2003 8:34 pm 
Correction: The MAC has 14, not 16, teams. They are: N. Ill., Ball St., CMU, WMU, EMU, Ohio U, Miami-O, BGSU, Toledo, Marshall, Buffallo, Kent St., Akron, and CFU (football only).

I do not believe the Big 10 would ever seriously consider Louisville.

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2003 6:57 am 
There have been persistent recent rumors that Arkansas might want to bolt the SEC for the Big 12 and some of the Razorbacks' old and more desirable SWC rivals. I could see that happening if Missouri was selected for the Big Ten or Colorado for the Pac-10. If that turned out to be the case, don't be surprised if the SEC makes a run at Virginia Tech as a 12th member. It has the quality football (men's basketball is dreadful), isn't far from a current SEC team (Tennessee) and could give the conference some influence in the Washington, D.C. market. If the Big Ten pursues Missouri (with the Missouri sides of St. Louis and Kansas City new markets for the conference, unlike Pitt or Iowa State), it's a very possible chain reaction.

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2003 9:07 am 

Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2002 4:13 pm
Posts: 223
1. In your Big 10 divisions you miss a point of issue most forget about when getting the nice geographical fit.

The league would never put all of the Big Boys in one division. They would want a "national interest" title game, which means MI, OH ST or PA ST (or ND) needs to get there. Preferably, 2 of them.

Given their current "official rivals" style of scheduling, the likely breakdown is:
North: IA, MI, MI ST, MN, OH ST, WI
South: IL, IN, NW, PA ST PU, new guy

2. I doubt Louisville would get any consideration from the Big 10. They're not as Ga-Ga over Pitino as others are. Iowa State hs previously been deemed too small to get an invite. The usual suspects remain: ND, NE, Pitt, MO, Syracuse

3. The Big 12's top 2, especially those who think TX Tech & Baylor didn't bring enough to the table are AK & LA ST

4. Pac 10 officials have never actually said that their plans were to wait for the Big 10. Every sports writer (maybe correctly) assumes this would be the case since they said "we're never going to add a BB tournament" and then did just that as soon a the Big 10 made the jump.

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2003 9:49 am 

Joined: Sat Dec 07, 2002 5:14 am
Posts: 2
I think that the Mountain West will expand to an even number of teams. Hence, it will expand to 10. Exactly who will join is up in the air. I heard the MWC still has to meet next month regarding expansion. I think it will happen and the logical choice is Fresno State since they keep getting mentioned. Its expansion partner could be Hawaii or Boise State. It might not even be either of those schools and we could get surprised with Nevada. I'm not sure I'm just keeping my mind open to all possibilities.

This will be good for Fresno State because they will cut down on their travel costs by being in the MWC. That's good news since their athletic dept. has made major budget cuts. Their rivalry with San Diego State would be renewed and let's not forget matchups with UNLV in basketball.

As for the Big Ten they need to add Notre Dame. Plain and simple. It makes sense. ND are independent thinking they are so special. They're not. Their glory days are gone and they are nowhere without a conference. The B10 makes geographical sense for them not to mention a football championship game.

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2003 9:30 am 

Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2002 4:13 pm
Posts: 223

Earth X,

What about an East/West split? Depends on who they land I guess. They wouldn't want to hand the West to Wisconsin or Iowa every year, they'd want third team there that would be a bigger draw than Iowa, if possible. The very best option for them would be Nebraska, wince they could go in the west and give the conference another huge name. That's help balance the conference, and then they could leave the east with the other powers, PSU, Purdue, MI, OSU, M St. NE will never come unless the Big 12 splinters, because they have it too good in the north, and the Big 10 would eat their option alive. Many other conferences have forgotten how to handle the option (the SEC has been embarassed by Nebraska), but the Big 10 teams would stuff them and they'd never have another 10-1 or better season unless they changed their offense.

nert and tigersharktwo have swung me for the time being on Pitt. How do they pull in Pitt if none of the western teams will vote for it. They'll only ok it if MI and probably M St. or Purdue go West. I can see MI doing that ONLY if they can make the OSU/MI a lock every year. That alignment might actually be better for the Big 10. In the East it'd be a round robin between PSU, PSU, and probably Pitt for the title, giving all those games added importance (especially Pitt PSU at the end of the year). The same would be true for MI/MSt. and MI/Wisconsin. And you'd almost be guaranteed a big match-up in the title game. But I doubt MI will go for it. The only real plus for them is probably dominating the West and always making the title game.

I just don't see a Big 10 with Nebraska putting NE on one side and MI, OH ST & PA ST on the other.
Although less convenient, I'm convinced they would make it 2 and 2. Besides, PA ST vs. NE (or PA ST vs. ND for that matter) would make a great game the league couldwith MI vs. OH ST on ABC the final weekend of every year. 2 games, 4 giants.

The "West against Pitt" is a best overstated and at worst incorrect. Among alumni, albeit they are not the adminstration, I've found Pitt getting more positive talk from WI, IA & IL than I have from MI, MI ST & OH ST.

The Big Ten traditionally has not had the big voting blocks people claim they've seen in the ACC & Pac 10.
Of course to hear PA ST alumni tell it, every vote made since 1992 has been 10 to 1.

Last edited by earthx on Mon May 19, 2003 9:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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