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Doug: Q&A on conference expansion and re-alignment
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Doug: Q&A on conference expansion and re-alignment

Q: WHAT’S NEXT?

A: Nothing happens until Friday when Mizzou and Nebraska must state their intentions. The Big 12 can still be saved but Texas would have to make concessions. I don’t think that will happen because Texas in the “Super 16” is better than Texas in the Big 12 under new revenue distribution rules.

Q: WHAT HAPPENS BEFORE FRIDAY?

Nothing on the record.

The Big 10 will quietly try to talk Notre Dame into joining the conference. They want to get an answer out of ND because a yes will mean they won’t invite Mizzou and Nebraska, forcing Mizzou to walk back to the Big 12 with its tail between its legs.

The Big 10 will swear to ND this is the last time they will invite the Irish. Although it makes the most sense for ND to say yes, they won’t because they know the Big 10 is bluffing and will ask again.

Q: HOW DO THEY KNOW THE BIG 10 IS BLUFFING?

In the 90’s Notre Dame was offered an invitation from the Big 10. ND quietly said yes and then went public. After their fans went nuts and NBC upped their contract offer, ND stayed independent. The Big 10 said they would never ask again at that point. Since they’re asking again, ND knows they can keep the Big 10 on the back burner. Besides, why not watch the other schools jump through hoops and then decide what you’re going to do. At any time ND can pick up the phone and invite themselves to any conference.

Q: WHAT ELSE CAN STOP THIS FROM HAPPENING?

If the SEC calls Texas that would really change things. Texas wouldn’t be the same big dog in the SEC but they would be able to dictate who comes with them. If they brought the 4 Texas schools, they could join the other West division teams and put the two Alabama schools in the East.

There is one scenario that no one has talked about but would be very tough to pull off. Why not have the Big 12 go on the offensive? TCU? Ark? New Mexico? ASU?

Q: WHAT KIND OF FALL OUT WILL TAKE PLACE?

If ND says no to the Big 10, Rutgers, Pitt, and Syracuse could all be invited with Nebraska and Mizzou. That would make Big East football a conference of five teams. They can’t go on the offensive at that point because the basketball schools would tell the football schools to give it up.

At that point the ACC would probably jump into the fray and go for UC, UofL, UConn, and either South Florida or WVU. Hard to decide between the last two. WVU gives you tradition and great ticket revenue while South Florida gives you the Tampa market to sell to advertisers and a third team in Florida where all the athletes are.

Q: WHO STANDS TO LOSE THE MOST?

Iowa State. If the Big 12 falls apart, who wants them?

To a lesser extent, WVU and USF could be losers. If the ACC raids the Big East for the leftovers after the Big 10, I don’t think both of them will have a seat when the music stops.

Q: WHO’S THE BIG WINNER?

In the short term it’s the Super 16. The Texas schools would force the rest of the conference teams (especially ASU and UofA since they would all be in the same division) to raise their game.

Q: IS THERE A “LONG TERM” WINNER?

If they play their cards right, it could be the Mountain West. There’s no word on what happens to KU, K-State if the Big 12 folds. Plus, there’s talk that the Texas Legislature might force the Texas schools to bring Baylor with them and force the Pac-10 to rescind an offer to CU. Colorado could be left out in the cold. The Mountain West could become a 14 team conference. The north division would be KU, K-State, CU, CSU, Boise St (yes, I’m putting them in), Wyoming and ISU (Cyclones get lucky because I need the balance of 7 teams per division). TCU, New Mexico, SDSU, UNLV, Utah, BYU, and AFA would make up the SW division.

If the Mtn W expands to this level and picks up 4 former BCS teams, I think they get that BCS bid they’ve been begging to receive.

KU basketball could be a big winner because they’d come close to Memphis in C-USA dominance and have a clean road to a #1 seed in every tournament.

Q: DOES THIS MOVE US CLOSER TO A PLAYOFF IN FOOTBALL?

No. The only reason I could say yes is because there’s less bureaucracy. Fewer conferences mean fewer decision makers and that does streamline the process. However, one of the big hang-ups for a playoff is the Big 10 and Pac 10’s love for the Rose Bowl. Now that those conferences would have 32 of the 120 D-1 teams fighting for 2 Rose Bowl spots, it would make a playoff less likely. Giving more power to two anti-playoff conferences doesn’t bring a playoff closer. I could see, though, that a “Plus 1” game could be added following the bowls.

Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL HAPPEN?

I think the Super 16 is going to happen.

I don’t think ND is going to join a conference on someone else’s time table. The Big 12’s ultimatum to Mizzou and Nebraska screwed things up for the Big 10 to get ND because Mizzou needs an answer. Once Nebraska and Mizzou depart, I think Texas is in the Super 16. I have no idea who will win the Baylor v CU battle. The Pac 10 will try to play hard ball because they want the Denver market. I think the Pac-10 will force the Texas Legislature to decide between Baylor or some conference championship games in Dallas.

I completely believe in a 16 team Big 10 because ND will say no.

It’s hard to see the carnage that will be left between the ACC and the Big East. If I’m the ACC, I move now and don’t wait to see what the Big East will try to do to save itself before the Big 10 makes it’s move.

What I don’t know is how the SEC will act. They’ve been very quiet. They are the one card that has more power than ND and Texas.