Just when you think that conference realignment can’t get any crazier last night happens. If you were already in bed, which I know a lot of you were, you probably missed Larry Scott and the Pac 12 pimpslapping Texas and Oklahoma in advance of the duo’s application to join the Pac 12. Put simply, the votes for expansion weren’t there. Why weren’t the votes there? Let’s go to Larry Scott’s statement: “after careful review we have determined that it is in the best interests of our member institutions, student-athletes and fans to remain a 12-team conference. While we have great respect for all of the institutions that have contacted us, and certain expansion proposals were financially attractive, we have a strong conference structure and culture of equality that we are committed to preserve. With new landmark TV agreements and plans to launch our innovative television networks, we are going to focus solely on these great assets, our strong heritage and the bright future in front of us.”
I added the bold, but that’s a clear shot at the Longhorn Network.
Congrats to Texas, they saved the Big 12 by being so greedy that the Pac 12 wasn’t willing to bring the Longhorns in to the conference. In the process the Longhorns also killed Oklahoma’s options to join the conference, which was really what Texas wanted all along, everyone stuck in the Big 12 with no other options.
Now Texas and Oklahoma have no recourse but to hash out an agreement in the Big 12.
The Longhorn Network is the Helen of Troy of major college sports, the network that loosed a thousand ships.
Here are eight things you need to know about conference realignment in the wake of last night’s blockbuster revelations.
1. Texas A&M to the SEC should be free of roadblocks.
If the Big 12 is surviving then Baylor has no basis to file any lawsuit against the SEC. Of course, as OKTC told you nearly a month ago now, Baylor didn’t have much of a basis to file a lawsuit anyway, but now it really doesn’t have one.
Expect A&M to officially announce for the SEC sooner rather than later.
2. Does Missouri still become the SEC’s 14th?
I don’t think so. Why? Because the Big 12’s survival means the SEC can’t poach Missouri without being accused of attacking the viability of the conference. Plus, and this is key, Missouri would now have substantial exit fees to pay.
Now, Missouri to the SEC doesn’t have to be done, but I just don’t know if either side has the willingness to go all in like the SEC and Texas A&M have been willing to do. I also don’t have a good sense for what Mizzou fans want. Would y’all rather fight to join the SEC — as A&M fans clearly wanted — or would you rather stay in the Big 12 and see what develops? I’m interested in hearing from you guys.
In order to avoid a lawsuit for tortious interference Missouri would need to follow the A&M road map, divorce from the Big 12 before the SEC could add it. That would be hard to manage since Missouri’s president is also, at the same time the university is exploring the SEC, trying to save the Big 12.
Missouri to the SEC could still happen, but both sides would have to dig in for a fight. I don’t think either side wants that fight. Am I wrong Mizzou fans? Let me know what you guys think.
3. Could the SEC make a play for Oklahoma?
As OKTC has told you from the start, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are connected. The SEC would be happy to take Oklahoma, but isn’t willing to take Oklahoma State as well.
So Oklahoma is not viable.
4. Would the SEC take Oklahoma State if it was also adding Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Missouri?
I think so, but that also seems unlikely. In this case you’d be adding three quality schools in academics and athletics and adding one school, Oklahoma State, that the presidents would not be excited about bringing in to the conference from an academic perspective.
In the event, however, that Texas pushes so hard that the Oklahoma schools and Missouri become fed up, the SEC is likely to be the only destination for any of them.
5. Can the ACC give back Syracuse and Pitt?
The ACC expanded out of weakness not strength. Adding Syracuse and Pitt was about making sure the ACC survived raids from the SEC and, potentially, the Big Ten. Now that those raids may not come and that the Big East has announced these schools can’t go to the ACC until 2014, the ACC is in an awkward position.
It has two schools that are pretty mediocre. Plus, it hasn’t yet expanded to 16 so as OKTC told you yesterday there’s no real benefit of going to 14 teams in a conference if the schools you’re adding are anything less than stellar.
And trust me, Pitt and Syracuse are not stellar.
So now what?
The only thing better than Pitt and Syracuse to the ACC would be if ESPN came back to the ACC and said the two schools didn’t add any substantial television value so the other ACC schools ended up getting less money because of this decision.
Don’t laugh, this could happen.
6. What about the Big East schools?
They’ve all pledged to stay together. That’s because no one else wants them.
Thanks to the Pac 12’s decision not to expand, the Big 12 survives, which probably means the Big East survives as well.
Instead of one grand explosion, the Big East and the Big 12 are dying by death of a thousand paper cuts. It’s painful to watch, but no one seems willing to put either of these conferences out of their misery.
7. What has the Longhorn Network’s expansion coverage been like?
I know the LHN is only in fifteen homes, but do any of you reading right now have it? Are you among the fifteen? I’m picturing it as the equivalent of Al-Jazeera during the early stages of the Iraq War.
This is like if Helen of Troy had a reality show during the Trojan War and the war was never mentioned.
Helen of Troy addressing camera: “Oh, there’s some big wooden horse outside my window today. But look how pretty my pearls are. Don’t you like my pearls?” (Flaming arrows flash across the television screen, fires begin to burn in the background.) Helen of Troy continues talking, “No one else has pearls like me, nope, no one.”
In case you’re wondering I’ve volunteered to go on the Longhorn Network as a guest.
I’ll keep you updated on my invitation and if the LHN accepts my generous invitation someone will have to send me the video since none of us will see it otherwise.
8. Who is the SEC’s 14th now?
Great question that I’m getting from lots of you.
If, thanks to the Pac 12 not expanding, Missouri to the SEC is dead, which I think it is, then the SEC will likely play 2012 with 13 teams. The SEC might also play 2013 with 13 teams.
Stop with your West Virginia talk. We know that the Big East wouldn’t allow the Mountaineers to play in the league until 2014. Even if the academics weren’t an issue, and they are — the SEC presidents will not vote to add West Virginia — the league would still have to wait over two full seasons to add WVU. That’s not happening.
So who is the SEC’s top target for 14?
I’m leaving the Tigers here because I believe if they really wanted to fight for admission, the SEC would bring them in. But, again, I don’t believe Missouri wants to fight to join the SEC.
2. Virginia Tech
If Missouri is out, then the SEC would turn its focus back to the ACC. The one thing we don’t know is which ACC schools have reached out to the SEC to gauge interest. I’ve been told that in past years the SEC had mock votes on adding teams. So Mike Slive knows which schools are most desired by his membership.
OKTC has also been telling you for over a month that the SEC wants to go in to new markets.
Virginia Tech has solid academics, athletics, and is a great cultural fit. I think it would be the top ACC target.
3. N.C. State
The SEC wants in to North Carolina. Since the ACC killed the Big East, the conference will be the fourth major conference. That means the SEC’s dream of adding Duke and UNC is unlikely to be viable. In that event the SEC might well be willing to take the one school from North Carolina it could get, N.C. State.
4. Florida State
Look, I know OKTC broke the news about the presidents of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina having a pact not to vote to add another team to the conference from inside their state. That pact still stands. But could Florida be persuaded that Florida State is a necessary addition to the conference if the SEC is unable to convince Virginia Tech or N.C. State to flip?
I still don’t think so. But the lure of the Seminoles national brand is such that the rest of the SEC would be interested. Would Mike Slive push this addition through even without unanimous consent? Again, doubtful. But if the SEC has no other viable options, maybe, just maybe, Florida State ends up in the mix.
Because now that it has gone to 13, the SEC has to go 14.
In the meantime stop with your ACC increased buyout talk. All the ACC did was increase its buyout by $7 million, from $13 million to $20 million. If you think a school would be willing to pay $13 million to join the SEC, don’t you think a school would be willing to spend $20 million? Spreading this $20 million cost out over twenty years is an insubstantial barrier when you consider the amount of increased revenue that will come from being in the SEC.
Especially when you keep in mind that Texas A&M would technically owe $26.1 million to join the SEC under the Big 12’s existing bylaws. (A&M will pay much less because the Big 12 bylaws are so poorly drafted). The increased buyout will not be the reason an ACC team chooses not to join the SEC.
Stay tuned, every day brings a new twist. That’s what happens when the best analogy to the Big 12 conference is Jersey Shore’s Ron and Sammi.
If you’re interested in FSU, Clemson, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Duke, N.C. State, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, et al. basically we’ve talked about how conference realignment impacts all these schools in the below articles. Just scroll through and you’ll be entertained and informed. I promise.
Read all of OKTC’s conference realignment stories here.