2:57 p.m. Update:
OK, so during today's KU football chat and, really, most of the day on Twitter, people were clamoring for a percentage wheel of some kind. I didn't really think I had a great one regarding this topic yet, but I can give you something. Here goes: Percentage chance predicting the time of realignment drama we'll have this summer...
Original Post, 10:28 a.m.
Tomorrow marks the two-year anniversary of the first conference realignment blog I ever wrote for this web site. In some ways it seems like a decade ago and in others it seems like just yesterday.
The question on everyone’s mind today, though, is will future realignment blogs be a part of tomorrow?
Since penning that first realignment blog — which wrapped with this: “I do know this; change is coming, and, although it might be tough to accept at first, it could be in KU’s best interest.” — I wrote more than 25 others and received well over a million page views on all of it combined. That’s just incredible and it speaks to the passion and devotion you all have for your KU sports.
During the past couple of weeks, as the Big 12 Conference replaced interim commissioner Chuck Neinas with new boss Bob Bowlsby and rumors of Realignment Round 3 began to surface, I found myself questioning whether we’d be going through something like that again this summer. My gut tells me no, but my mind tells me to stay on high alert. I will.
If any realignment type issues come up this summer, I don’t expect they will reach the levels we saw during the past two summers, when the country’s most powerful conferences made major moves and threatened to make more while bringing college athletics to the brink of complete chaos and restructuring.
The Big East, with its interim commissioner and a larger but less impressive membership roster, appears to be the most vulnerable conference to further poaching. The Big 12 once occupied that spot, but the conference now appears to be on stable ground with Bowlsby in the front office and new TV deals bringing the promise of bookoo bucks. The league is close to reaching an official extension with ESPN that would run for 13 years and be worth $1.3 billion.
Beyond that, I can’t see any of the 10 Big 12 schools wanting out. I suppose there’s a chance that the ever-wandering eyes of Texas and Oklahoma could stray once again, but those schools seem happy with the Big 12’s current direction and the league now has language in place that makes it much tougher to get out the way Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M did during the past two years. Besides that, once the new TV deals become official, the granting of rights pledge will increase from its current mark of six years to 13 years, a strong sign of each school’s commitment to the league. After all, the granting of right locks the schools to the league because if any school were to leave it would not take with it complete control of its media rights.
If anything, the Big 12 may go on the offensive and look to expand its membership back to 12 teams or perhaps even more. That’s been the hottest rumor of late, with Clemson and Florida State taking the lead. If there’s any truth at all to those rumors, which I’m still trying to decipher, then it’s clear that the ACC is in a precarious position, as well.
Here are a couple of links that cover the topic of FSU and Clemson to the Big 12:
One thing that continues to force me to scratch my head is how, or perhaps why, Louisville has fallen off the map? Remember, not long ago, Louisville was deemed by most as the next most likely candidate to join the Big 12 after TCU and West Virginia were added last fall. Heck, Louisville nearly jumped in line ahead of West Virginia.
I’m not saying it’s a sure thing that Louisville is going to join the Big 12. But I’d give the Cardinals as much of a shot as Clemson or Florida State. In fact, I think you could make as strong a case for Rutgers (think New York market) and Louisville to be the Big 12’s 11th and 12th teams as you could for Clemson and FSU.
For one, the Big East is in peril and even though it continues to point toward “a bright future,” some of the teams it’s adding simply are not that attractive. Two, with the BCS set to undergo major changes and the concept of automatic-qualifiers hanging in the balance, some of those schools that looked at joining the Big East for the easier road to BCS gold might elect to back out while there’s still time. The most obvious example of that would be Boise State.
I’ve been told all along and over and over that the Big 12 is content with 10 teams and does not see any reason to expand, therein spreading the television revenue thinner. So until I hear otherwise, I’m going to stick with that. Sources continue to say that the league is happy with its current membership, but there is the belief that if the right teams came along and were interested the Big 12 would consider expansion.
Either way, with new leadership in place and the league determined to never again go through what it went through these past two summers, it only makes sense that the Big 12 would look into being more proactive this time around — just in case.
Many out there, including the blog below, are convinced that the league will add at least two more teams sometime this summer. I can’t say that would surprise me. Then again, after what I’ve seen and heard during the past two years, nothing would surprise me when it comes to conference realignment.
And while you do, here are a couple of quick-hitters that I’ll continue to be tracking as we head into the summer.
• The Big 12 spring meetings will begin May 30 in Kansas City, Mo. These meetings were hot during the past two summers and it’s possible — extremely likely, even — that the topic of expansion will be kicked around quite a bit during the meetings. I’ll be over there.
• The contract of acting commissioner Chuck Neinas expires on June 30.
• TCU and West Virginia officially will be added to the conference in July. • Why would ACC schools Clemson and FSU be interested in joining the Big 12? As was the case in 2011, the ACC’s football schools are rumored to be tired of the conference catering to basketball powers North Carolina and Duke and adding hoops schools Syracuse and Pitt.
• BYU is not dead in all of this. Neither is Notre Dame. Yes, Notre Dame.
• As it stands today, Florida State is the key piece in all of this expansion talk and the Seminoles will have to be the ones who come calling. The Big 12 will not go to them. Similarly, Clemson will not even look west without knowing that Florida State is doing the same. I’ve heard that FSU wants in but wants the Big 12 to expand to 14 and would like the conference to consider adding Miami, Georgia Tech and possibly others instead of the Big East bunch.