I have been thinking this week what would be the most strategic move the Big 12 could make with the recent pooching of the ACC by the Big Ten.
If there is one school staggering from this recent Big Ten move, it has got to be the University of Pittsburgh. Already located in the Big Ten region and with the recent move by the closet potential ACC school Maryland into the Big Ten, Pitt has to be vulnerable with this latest realignment.
With Tier 3 rights owned by the individual schools, the Big 12 funding model will never be the same as the SEC and Big Ten. I see the Big 12 looking at potential expansions schools that would favor this model.
Pitt and Louisville both fit the Big 12 funding model as either school will most likely never be a candidate for the always potentially expanding Big Ten and soon to be SEC driven by cable markets and conference networks..
Every remaining ACC school is vulnerable to the SEC and Big Ten for cable markets with the exception of Pitt. This same fact continues to make Pitt vulnerable as well without playing one game in the ACC.
Since the Big 12 has already explored taking Pitt, WVU, and Louisville when the league had nine schools including at that time Texas A&M, this option may be back on the table with TCU already replacing Texas A&M and WVU already a member of the Big 12.
The reason for my post today on this subject is Thanksgiving and TV. The Big 12 has to benefit TV to expand and Pitt may just have those benefits by syncing back up with Arch-rival WVU.
As a college football fan there are some national rival games I never miss on TV if possible including Ohio State/Michigan, Alabama/Auburn, USC/Notre Dame, Florida/Florida State, recently Arizona/ASU, Oklahoma/Texas and the backyard brawl of WVU/Pitt. Since the backyard brawl was traditionally on TV during Thanksgiving holiday weekend, there are many college football fans this week missing this game.
Everyone does not necessarily understand why the Oklahoma schools and the Texas schools need to be in the same division because TV wants these games on the schedule every year
If the Big 12 wanted to get back to 12 school, taking Louisville and Pitt make a lot of sense both geographically and they both fit the Big 12 funding model. Additinally Pitt and Louisville along with WVU would fill in the north division with the Kansas schools and Iowas state with a nice 3 team balance in both regions.
Also if the ACC continues to crumble under the advancements of Big Ten and soon to be SEC cable network expansion, Notre Dame may want to rethink it soft landing spot for its independent football program. What better way to help Notre Dame by having continuous geographical schools of Louisville, WVU, and Pitt for basketball and other Olympic sports.
Notre Dame fits the Big 12 funding model as well if the ACC continues to become unstable.
If I am Bowlsby and wanted to make some strategic moves that did not negative impact TV, maybe Pitt and Louisville are the way to go.
North: Pitt. WVU, Louisville, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State
South: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Baylor, Texas Tech, Texas
There are a lot of college football fans would welcome this format on this very tranditional Thanksgiving football holiday weekend.
With Pitt off the market why not slot in Cincinnati? Sure Cincinnati is a much smaller prize than Pittsburgh and it doesn't result in reviving an epic rivalry but it would give the Big 12 The Keg of Nails and re-establishes the same Northern 6/Southern 6 equilibrium that the Big 12 lost with the Nebraska/Colorado exodus. It's not as sexy but it would bring stability. Another thought for the Big 12 would be getting a foothold in Florida with USF and/or UCF.