The next logical Domino --- the Big 12
With apologies to both PAC10 and ND fans, I consider the Big 10 to be the obvious #1 conference a notch above the PAC 10, so their actions do not affect the Big 10's extending mating dance with ND.
That said, the next affected conference in the conference pecking order is the big 12.
The loss of Colorado would actually be a positive in keeping the Big 12 conference intact. The factors that might lead UT, A&M, and OU to one day breakaway are pretty reliant up pulling most of the B12 flagships with them --- Missou, Kansas, and Colorado -- to form a block that can dictate terms. Removing Colorado probably kills any chance of UT & OU to be able to build a dream conference on the bones of the B12. so the question becomes a very simple one of replacing the 12th slot.
Candidates for the 12th spot in the B12:
Arkansas, TCU, BYU, Utah, Memphis, Colorado State, UTEP, UNT, Air Force, Houston, Rice
In the past you could have said that Nebraska would still deliver the Denver market, but it has been almost a generation since Nebraska was a national power. Losing Colorado to a superior conference like the PAC 10, could actually take the B12 off the sets in the Denver and Colorado DMAs, costing the conference 1.9M TVs.
Obviously adding Arkansas is everyone's first choice due to their history with Texas and it's ability to deliver new markets for the B12 in Little Rock, Jonesboro, and Memphis. They would add 1.299M TV households. Now keep in mind people in Arkansas don't have the buying power of People in Colorado, so this is a bigger hit than it looks, but it is survivable.
The problem is, Arkansas would have to take a pay cut and an esteem cut to downgrade from the SEC to the B12. Could it happen? Sure, there is a possibility. People up there would love to be back in a conference with UT, but how often do universities downgrade and leave money on the table? I don't see it happening to simply fill Colorado's slot in the B12. (Now maybe increases in travel costs may change the equation, but today, I don't see this.)
UT has a big stick when it comes to the academic requirements in the B12. My feeling is that they would eliminate Memphis, UTEP, UNT, and maybe Houston on those grounds.
I think all schools would be loathe to "waste" the 12th spot on a market they already solidly own, so that would eliminate TCU, UNT, Houston, & Rice.
The Texas schools have always looked at BYU more reasonably than schools in other conferences and so BYU might be their second choice. Religious affiliation is not seen as a huge negative. BYU was strongly considered as an option to save the SWC, but the idea of adding more private school votes did a lot to sour that idea. BYU is the Notre Dame of the mountain west timezone. They can generate at least some TV viewership from Nevada to Texas and Arizona to Idaho.
But if Utah couldn't get into the PAC 10 without BYU, it hardly seems likely that Utah fans would be OK with BYU bailing on Utah for the Big 12. The conference is not going to want to add two schools, let alone 2 schools from the same smallish market. The financials for a 13 or even 14 team conference are simply are not as good.
Additionally, the northern teams are not going to want to increase their travel budgets, so scratch BYU and Utah.
Looking at market sizes, Air Force's native market is Colorado Springs (326K TV households). Its is true they would strengthen national viewing numbers a bit, but the native market is quite small and doesn't give Denver. Memphis is only 667K TVHs. El Paso is only 302K.
In terms of competitiveness all of the options are decent, but Air Force would probably not work. Like all of the Military academies they do better in the lower Div 1 ranks where their lack of depth can be better disguised with good schemes and more disciplined players. They would more regularly be exposed and non-competitive in a conference like the B12.
The most logical option if, like every other university in the nation, Arkansas is not willing to leave money on the table... appears to be Colorado State.
They are a public "state" school, like OSU,KSU,and ISU.
They allow the B12 to remain relevant in Denver and (in time) the other Colorado markets.
They have the academic skins UT would require as Carnegie rates them RU/VH: Research University (with very high research activity) and they are ranked as a tier 2 academic institution by US News.
CSU does not create more travel problems for the B12 North.
CSU is a competent doormat. They draw solidly for football and basketball and would likely do much better in a higher profile conference. The northern schools would love to have their own Baylor, albeit a more competitive one.
CSU allows Nebraska to still project regional dominance.
CSU also gives another vote to preserve the B12, and as such would be favored by schools likely to lose out on a UT/OU breakaway =Nebraska, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, & Baylor.
CSU also preserves the 6/6 vote balance where a school like TCU or Houston would give the OU/UT block the ability to run roughshod over Nebraska's group.
(Now, to be thorough, I will state that CSU is a member of a gentleman's agreement called "The Gang of 5". BYU, Utah, CSU, Wyoming, and Air Force recognized years ago that if they banded together they could survive. The idea was that unless the PAC 10 came calling for Utah and BYU to bring them into the BCS, the 5 would commit to each other.
It seems to me that the flipside of the coin (CSU joining the BCS)would also be a respectable reason for leaving the gang of 5 on peaceful terms.)
Last edited by finiteman on Sun Jun 22, 2008 9:13 am, edited 1 time in total.