Conference Expansion News, June 2, 2016
The Big XII is expanding, a rumor states. The Big XII is NOT expanding, a rumor states. The Big XII is getting a network, a rumor states. The Big XII is NOT getting a network, a rumor states. The Big XII is going to share a network with the ACC, a rumor states. No it is not. And so on. Also, “rumor” also seems to include targeted media leaks by various Big XII schools with unique agendas, so it is not all Twitter-based fodder. In the end, nobody has any idea what the Big XII will do.
In calmer seas, fans of ACC schools could simply grab a bag of popcorn and watch this inter-conference schizophrenia unfold. But the landscape of conference realignment remains concerning, as the ACC has its own vulnerabilities and financial gap. Also, several ACC schools could be in trouble if conference realignment picks up steam. And even the no-brainer elite schools want to control their future, not be “stuck” in any conference.
Admittedly, the idea of a joint network with the Big XII and ACC has some appeal. With very little geographic overlap, the two conferences could supply an ESPN channel with plenty of content. This might also set the table well for various basketball and football “challenges” between the conference, as well as scheduling benefits. What the ACC provides in population access, the Big XII adds with the State of Texas and slightly more football credibility. So perhaps such a venture has some potential to be a win-win-win for both conferences and ESPN (who could also direct some content to the SEC network, if necessary). Moreover, any strengthening of these two conferences would be a stick in the eye to the Big 10, which may still have some value to ESPN folks.
Of course, how to make money is quickly subsumed by how to divide it. First, Texas still has the Longhorn Network deal. Second, Notre Dame has its own TV deal. Third, Notre Dame has its quasi-membership in the ACC. Fourth, BYU remains looking as a school to do the same. Fifth, does the Big XII slide up to 12 or 14 or 15 schools to even the conferences up? And Sixth, how would money get divided anyway–1/3 to Big XII, 1/3 to ACC, 1/3 to ESPN? Who knows? But there are far too many proverbial “alpha dogs” in this mix to think it can all get worked out.
In any event, the Big XII may or may not be doing any number of things. The ACC schools stay quiet, which is some sort of minor testament to the conference’s stability. Hopefully. But this realignment issue never seems to die. So pay attention.
What do you think? What is the future for the Big XII, ACC, and networks?