We may need to keep in mind that during the late 80s' and even early 90s', and obviously somewhat before that time, the prime conferences, not the "catch all concept of the WAC during a part of the period", was more regional or territorially focused.
When Penn State joined the Big 10, the ACC Commissioner at the time, said something to the effect, and taking liberties at paraphrasing here, "we wish we knew you (Penn State) was seeking all-conference membership", implying the ACC would have loved to have Penn State. That may be hard to fully believe, because rumors of such a big shift would flow into all kinds of athletic circles very quickly. Also, the openness of Penn State at the time to consider joining a conference was known, though the talk focused on Penn State being the nucleus of an eastern-based arrangement. The academic consortium of the Big Ten was attractive for PSU, but also, athletically, Penn State did have issues about housing their Olympic-style sports.
Another issue, rarely talked about, is that Penn State in the past would go undefeated, or near undefeated, and the "poll" national titles would go elsewhere. It was common for critics to point out the "weak" eastern schedules having the Rutgers' and Temples'.
The real insult, Penn State felt when they did join the Big 10, the second year, 1994 undefeated season resulted in the national title going to Nebraska (Tom Osborne is due). Insult to injury happened when certain Big 10 coaches voted for Nebraska as well. And, wasn't 1969 an adoring year, when Richard Nixon declared Texas (also undefeated) national champs when Penn State was also undefeated. Maybe those respective years, Nebraska and Texas were better, but with no head-to-heads, and pollsters having a condescending view of eastern football, it was a factor working against Penn State.
People have commented on why Penn State would have joined a Midwestern conference whereby Ohio State and Michigan were the big feature. The point is, if Penn State did not have those schools adjacent to their immediate west, they would NOT have joined the Big 10.
In 1992, which preceded Penn State's official move to the Big 10 by a year, the SEC had added Arkansas and South Carolina. The SEC Commissioner at the time talked to several schools beforehand, but adding Arkansas who wanted to jump from the old SWC, was seized upon. Also in 1992, Florida State chose to enter the ACC. FSU could have gotten into the SEC at time, but the faculty liked the academic imagery of the ACC, FSU knew they had a greater chance of dominating in fb in the ACC, and some did not want to be in the same conference with the hated Gators.
But these shifts by the SEC and ACC, may have really started back in 1983 when former SEC member and later Independent, GA Tech, joined the ACC, taking the former spot once held by former ACC charter member, South Carolina.
Miami had joined the Big East in 1991. They also went 12-0-0 that year. At the time, the ACC was really not that interested or wanted, so they claimed, Miami. The SEC Commissioner had also visited with Miami before their final decision, and Arkansas was on board and it was known the SEC sought to fill another spot, and had South Carolina hanging and hoping. The result of the meeting with Miami has two different stories, depending on who you speak with. Miami implied they rejected the SEC because it was more "boxing", they had "eastern" interests and were not deep-south types, and wanted a better avenue to continue their "successes". The messages out of the SEC was that the meetings with Miami did not go well, Miami came across as arrogant, and that commitments to Olympic sports, women's sports, Title IX, etc. were very under-developed at Miami. The SEC did not want Miami either, after the discussion.
At South Carolina it was red carpet treatment for the SEC brass. Georgia was strongly pushing South Carolina for SEC membership. Alabama and Auburn were not so enthused, citing South Carolina's mediocre sports history, minus the Frank McGuire days of bb. But here was a flagship school with fine facilities, huge fan support even in rough times, improving academics, and totally receptive, even begging, to join the SEC. Also, there was the promise that South Carolina would satisfy whatever requirements the SEC laid before them. South Carolina felt it was suffering as an Independent. At least the school's history near always had risen to the mediocrity levels of whatever was before them, and the next year theme frequently rang.
When So. Car. left the ACC after 1971, there were lingering resentments with the ACC which was dominated by the "NC 4" very politically. That televised bb fight a few years earlier with Maryland and Lefty Driesel, and some time before then, tattle-tailing Duke, were some of the straining moments. Paul Dietzel, then USC fb coach and AD, promised big things as an Independent. The result was bb cancellations from all ACC schools except Clemson who was basically forced to play USC. In fb, some ACC schools did continue to play USC. Some in-state pressure was also placed on Clemson to leave the ACC during the period, but it never materialized. For the SEC, it was an opportunity to gain a foothold in the Carolinas, get their 12 and a championship game, and attention in the Columbia-Charleston-Charlotte-SC upstate markets and media. It was also an answer to the ACC's moves into SEC turf with GT and FSU.
It could have all been different. The SEC beforehand was interested in Texas and Texas A&M. They almost had Texas A&M had it not been Texas political pressure to keep the top Texas state schools together. Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and then Governor Ann Richard's Baylor, opted to join those in the Big 8 to create the Big 12, commencing in 1996.
All the major conferences had shifts during the period except the PAC 10. Least we not forget, they too had expanded earlier, adding Arizona and Arizona State, effective 1978.
It will take only one major conference, accepting someone itching for something they see as better, to kick off another round of shifts.
Last edited by sec03 on Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.