Conference Realignment–What if the ACC, Big 10, SEC, and Big XII Worked Together?
So far, conference realignment has been about taking… usually in the form of a happy conference (stealing a school), a happy school (happy to be stolen) and–cue the sad trombone–a sad conference (losing a school). So far, the unhappy conference has usually been the Big East, but the Big XII has lost Missouri, Texas A&M, Colorado, and Nebraska, while the ACC has lost Maryland. Only the Pac-12, SEC, and Big 10 have been exclusively happy. In the meantime, there are rumors upon rumors of the ACC being carved up, with fewer (but existing) rumors regarding the Big 10 eying more Big XII schools. But what if the ACC, Big 10, SEC, and Big XII sat down and worked on a plan that would keep each of these conferences roughly happy, while allowing each conference to arguably expand its market base?
Consider that the Big 10 has eyes on the Southeast market, but is leery of alienating its midwestern base/roots. While some people talk about expanding to 18 or 20, these additions always involve Michigan and/or Ohio State moving to the eastern side. On the other hand, the Big XII has a grant of rights that makes it more difficult to pry away a school. But what if everyone sat down and came up with a plan that would kind of/sort of make everyone happier.
First, the Big XII would give up its GOR rights for Kansas, allowing them to slide to the Big 10. In exchange, the ACC would give up Pitt, who would slide to the Big XII. The SEC would give up Missouri. In exchange for Missouri, the ACC would give up North Carolina State. Missouri would go to the Big 10. The Big 10 would be at 16, the SEC at 14. At 10 members, the Big XII would have the option of taking Cincinnati and USF to move into further new markets (Ohio and Florida), while also adding a conference game. The ACC could take UConn–adding a new market to replace the NC State “market” lost. The ACC could also take Temple, adding a private school in the Pennsylvania market.
This would result in:
SEC East: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, NC State, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Kentucky
SEC West: Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi, Miss State, and Texas A&M.
Big 10 West: Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern, Iowa
Big 10 East: Ohio State, Penn State, Maryland, Michigan, Rutgers, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan State
Big XII South: Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
Big XII North: West Virginia, Pitt, Cincy, USF, Iowa State, Kansas State
ACC Atlantic: UConn, BC, Temple, Louisville, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, (ND)
ACC Coastal: Syracuse, Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Miami, (Navy–same deal as ND, only less money?)
Big XII loses Kansas–a major basketball power. However, Kansas is also terrible at football. The Big XII stays strong in football at the top by adding Cincy and USF–two beatable teams in great markets for recruiting. Cincy and USF are on the upswing in hoops too. Pitt is very established in hoops. A nice home-and-home pod with Pitt and Cincy for West Virginia.
SEC loses Missouri, but picks up NC State. A market for market swap that probably hurts the SEC somewhat. But the SEC adds a school that gives inroads into North Carolina, while further fitting in better on the Eastern side. If, in 10 years, the SEC and Big 10 decide to carve up the ACC–the SEC has a lure for North Carolina–State is already there. Meanwhile, NC State is more of an SEC school in terms of football zeal by the fans. The basketball program could thrive freed from the shadow of Duke and UNC too.
The Big 10 gets a stronger Western flank with Missouri and Kansas. With both schools freed of games against the powers of the SEC and Big XII, they could thrive. The divisions finally start to make geographic sense, allowing for a 9 game schedule–7 games inter-division, plus two games against other division.
The ACC loses NC State and Pitt–two decent football programs. UConn and Temple are a downgrade… but this staves off a loss of the major football powers and the major markets/leaders.
Of course, in a perfect world, the existing conferences could sit down and make complete geographic sense. But that cannot happen. In the interim, however, the conferences could work to share markets to allow all TV deals to slide upwards. Although it is will get the most criticism, the Big XII would really be the big winner here. The adds of Pitt, Cincy, and USF would open up three major recruiting markets, without exactly taking on terrible metro markets (Pitt, Cincy, Tampa).
What do you think? Even if impossible, does it make sense?