3:02 p.m. Update:
Well, by now I'm sure many of you have heard that the ACC issued a joint statement which indicated that the rumors about ACC schools going to other conferences are false.
That's what they're saying, anyway.
Here's the link:
I applaud the ACC for saying something, even if it is somewhat laughable, but I can assure you that this statement means very little in all of this. If you're in the ACC's shoes, it's much better to have something like this exist than not. But it hardly means things are sunny in ACC land right now.
Let's face it, they upped the exit fee to $50 million — an astronomical number at the time it happened — and even that didn't keep schools from leaving. If a school wants to leave and another conference wants to take them, they're gone. That's still at least a decent sized "if" at the moment, as we're simply waiting to see if the Big Ten really wants to take its power play all the way.
A couple of quick things to share before I move on to the rest of my day and get back to wrapping up the Kansas University football season and working on that Granting of Rights story. It’s coming... I promise. And it’s going to give you a real thorough look at what that thing’s all about.
Just quickly, though, I noticed that there has been a lot more talk out there about Big Ten expansion in the past 24 hours and I wanted to touch on that a little more.
Popular opinion right now says that as soon as the Big Ten adds two more to get to 16 that will open the floodgates for the ACC, SEC and Big 12 to jump on the bandwagon and start adding to their member lists as well. That makes sense. But I’m not so sure it’s going to go that way.
I know a lot of people out there believe that such a move would force the Big 12 to act, but you have to remember that, at its core, this thing is all about television dollars. If the Big 12 can add a couple of teams — say Florida State and Clemson — and increase its value in the eyes of the league’s television partners then it becomes a no-brainer to expand. Do it yesterday. But if not, why do it at all?
It’s not as if this is a guessing game either. The TV execs would gladly enter (and may already have) into any discussions or negotiations about the potential to make more money (from their advertisers and corporate sponsors) but also would be very blunt in explaining to any conference whether moves A, B or C would actually bring increased value. If they say no, I don’t think you can expand. If they say yes, poach away.
One Big 12 administrator with knowledge of the league’s television deals I spoke with yesterday said he did not think college athletics was headed toward four 16-team super conferences any time soon and also said he thought both the ACC and Big 12 were in good shape and did not need to panic and expand for the sake of expansion.
Another league source told me recently that he thought if the Big 12 wanted to expand it likely would have done so already.
I know many reports have indicated that there is some division within the Big 12 about the issue of staying at 10 or expanding. While that may be true on a small level, I don’t believe the members who are open to expansion have reached the point where they are adamant about it happening. I think all 10 still see the value in staying at the current number and are content to remain there.
I’m not sure the same can be said for the Big Ten.
This recent report features Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis pointing out the advantages of expanding to 16....
... And this report quotes Illinois chancellor Phyllis Wise saying that the league did not discuss any other schools when it unanimously voted to approve the additions of Maryland and Rutgers. http://www.news-gazette.com/news/education/2012-12-06/no-other-universities-considered-big-ten-when-maryland-rutgers-joined.html
The articles above do not necessarily indicate that Big Ten officials have differing viewpoints on further expansion, and it’s clear in both of them that the league is planning to evaluate the landscape on a daily basis and will act accordingly.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and company are certainly worth keeping an eye on but it may be possible that the Big Ten is not the key piece in all of this after all.
I know I’ll be watching just as closely for news from the ACC’s lawsuit against Maryland and Rutgers’ lawsuit against the Big East. Both are intriguing, potentially game-changing moves and the outcome of either could have just as big of an impact on conference realignment as any expansion talks.
Time will tell.
While we wait, here's an updated percentage wheel with my thoughts on what the Big 12 will do in the near future...