We're pausing our regularly scheduled Slate of Eight Wednesday morning for a chance to do some writings on the entire landscape and some "what if" scenarios now that the Pac-12 has decided not to expand their conference footprint east with OU and Texas. That's just one of several bombs that have come down the shoot in the last few days so let's get on the same page by running down all this info-knowledge starting with the ACC "leading the charge to 14" by grabbing Syracuse and Pitt from the Big East.
This move has then kicked off discussion from all arenas as to "what the Big East does next" to save their souls. Everything from a possible merger with the Big XII or adding the Service Academies to going for round two of pillaging Conference-USA has since been bandied about. In addition to this we've now seen West Virginia turned down by not just the ACC but the SEC as well as they attempted to jump off what appears to be a sinking Big East ship. Oh, and ECU has again tried to get their wheels moving towards a BCS league by applying to the Big East which did not end the way Pirates fans have hoped for years.
In the SEC's house we know A&M is the 13th horse in the stable but who is number fourteen? WVU, as we've mentioned, has been tabled for now while Mizzou has now become the hot topic as the team to fill out the SEC's roster. Louisville is another quiet team tossed around but the whole "gentleman's agreement" in regard to adding schools from a current member's state comes into question.
On the Big XII front we've got Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and his league electing to stay at twelve members forcing the Big XII back to their disgruntled nine member existence. Reports started last night that OU and Texas were back to the drawing board on a deal that would keep league viable for five years but just a year ago we heard that Dan Beebe's gang was "committed" to their ten member league as well. What we do know is that should this deal come to fruition it means Baylor's lawsuit becomes less necessary as the Bears are, for the time at least, still in a viable BCS league.
Lastly, the Pac-12 folks. We know what the release said last night and as folks attempt to slough their statement off a "look left, go right" move take a look at the differences in their statements, brought to you by Andy Staples and facebook.
So, there's your knowledge drop. Let's get to the thoughts and what happens next...
Let's start with reactions from the masses. As the Pac-12 decided to stay one of the loudest "WHAAAA?!" came from the ACC folks who did not like the ACC's addition of Syracuse and Pitt to the fray. "If no one else is expanding then why did the ACC?"became the question as they bitched about how Pitt and 'Cuse prove the league "just cares about basketball" and they were submarining the football product. Look, I'm as "anti-basketball" as it gets but I see the value in adding both schools when the goal of the league is to protect their own product.
The league did not just add the schools, the most important move Swofford and the members made was increasing the buyout for the league's institutions from $10-12 million to a robust $20 million number. The ACC can't definitively say that "no one is going anywhere" but they helped buy themselves some insurance that it is less likely they are the league that is poached by the Big Ten or the SEC.
On the actual addition of Pitt and Syracuse; I'm not in love with either of the schools. Outside of Notre Dame and Texas who, at least for a time or in the future, appear to be viable options there really are no home runs for the ACC to hit. That said in adding Pitt and 'Cuse the league is, last decade-wise, getting more of what they already have; decent football teams. This isn't a downgrade by any means and outside of Virginia Tech and perhaps FSU there really shouldn't be much finger pointing from ACC schools, including you Clemson.
Pitt's at least been to a BCS bowl this decade, Syracuse is on the rise with an actual decent coaching hire and personally I find it to be an odd combination of ACC-myopia and ignorance in regard to the rich football tradition present at both schools. They both want to win, this is not adding a school that is not committed to fielding a winner.
Now with regards to the Pac-12 I fall somewhere in the middle on how true their desire to remain a twelve team league actually happens to be. I'm not 100% sold on it but I'm also not the guy screaming "They're lying to us y'all!! Don't believe it!" from the mountaintop. Larry Scott is a smart man, should a more attractive offer that boosts the overall league's stature and revenue come about no doubt in my mind that man takes it.
Which brings us to the elephant in the room; The Longhorn Network.
The ACC politely declined the notion of accepting Texas as an equal share member where the Longhorns got to not only split the TV contract but also retained all Longhorn Network revenue. It seems the LHN is a sticking point with everyone as the additional $11+ million per year greatly skews the payout equality in any league that accepts that deal and that is the reason Big XII is in the trouble it is in now and reason Texas A&M left for the SEC.
No conference is signing up to subjugate their current members for the newcomers and Texas is going to have to make a decision, along with ESPN, about what to do with their megatron behemoth of a deal. To get to the Pac-12, a league that has wrested power from USC and UCLA to give the conference more equality there will have to be restructuring and revenue sharing or forfeiture of some total league share to appease a group of schools that, at least on the surface, are on the same page.
As for the Sooners, their ultimatum regarding Dan Beebe's dismissal as the conference commissioner has now come back to create a legitimate issue of "sticking to their guns" for OU. Just over 24 hours ago OU folks believed the Pac-12 move, for the Sooners and Oklahoma State Cowboys at least, was a done dealso now they are humbled and back to the drawing board.
Dan Beebe and the Big XII, for the first time since pre-Nebraska/Colorado departure have a little hand. Who'da Thunk It?
To wrap up we hit on the conflicting reports of Mizzou to the SEC as some dispute the Columbia universities move to the SEC. This would be the second time in as many years that the Tigers were totally sold on their conference move only to have it yanked away from them. Tough. If the SEC does add Mizzou we can expect the league to re-draw lines between East and West and that probably means another set of Tigers gets filtered over to the SEC East. Auburn fans don't like the idea and I definitely hate it for them on a personal level all though it is not the world ending.
Texas A&M and Mizzou fill out an Arkansas, Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State and Ole Miss half of the league while a shuffling Auburn joins Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Sakerlina and Vanderbilt East. Play your Iron Bowl after Thanksgiving and go should the SEC take Mizzou.