The Confidential did not make this phrase up.
We can prove it. Big XII Commissioner Bob Bowlsby recently said this:
“If anything, it’s the opposite,” Bowlsby said. “You can begin to get some advantages without taking on any of the disadvantages (of expansion). It’s one option that allows benefits. It’s kind of like friends with benefits.”
What was Bowlsby talking about? Apparently, the Big XII is considering an alliance with 3 other conferences that would take expansion/realignment off the table, but allow conferences to use each other to maximize revenue. The ACC is one of the conferences that the Big XII approached. This issue involves scheduling, marketing, and perhaps even television contracts.
Look, while some folks are never going to think the ACC is at risk, the defection of Maryland is happening. Of course, schools have left the ACC before. Schools even left the SEC once upon a time. But the money that the Big Ten is generating is simply too much for some institutions to turn their backs on. So anything that can arguably add revenue to the ACC coffers is important. If an alliance with the Big XII is part of it, so be it.
From a realignment standpoint, the idea of Florida State and others defecting to the Big XII is debatable. It seems unlikely that the Seminoles would trade down academically, just to add a few million dollars. But as long as that is on the table, there is just one more reason for ACC fans to be nervous. At the same time, the Big XII has to worry about the Pac-12, which has few options for new members geographically. So an alliance between the three conferences makes some sense. If the Big XII is only considering adding teams to save itself from a future Pac-12 expansion, the fear of realignment is doing more harm than actual realignment. As noted above, Bowlsby thinks that an alliance will reduce the pressure for expansion.
Really, the best case scenario would be an 8-10 year agreement between the 5 major conferences to let things play out for a while without more realignment. The SEC and B1G can make more money by destroying other conferences, but nobody knows the cost of abandoning so many rivalries in the process. Of course, it is hard to tell the predator to ignore the prey.