Tag:conference realignment
Posted on: September 20, 2011 12:27 pm

Sources: West Virginia denied by ACC, SEC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It was just hours ago that -- despite reports to the contrary -- West Virginia still had hope of abandoning their sinking Big East ship for a lifeboat on its way to the ACC or SEC. But it now looks like those hopes have been extinguished.

Citing "multiple sources" within the Big East, CBSSports.com senior writer Brett McMurphy has reported that WVU officials have told other members of the conference that both the ACC and SEC have "rejected" the Mountaineers' request to join their respective leagues.

Reports surfaced Sunday that West Virginia had "submitted paperwork" to the SEC in the wake of Pitt's and Syracuse's impending defection to the ACC. Though that official application has not yet been confirmed, no one doubts that the Mountaineers have been exploring their options--and judging by WVU's public statement that conspicuously failed to mention any kind of support for the Big East, were no doubt hoping those options included an invitation to one of the two expanding BCS leagues.

That the SEC would seem to be in need of an Eastern-oriented team to balance its conference opposite the Western addition of Texas A&M appeared to make them the more likely of the two to grant WVU admittance. But with both that door and the ACC's now apparently closed, WVU will have to look elsewhere. Unfortunately for them, the Charleston Gazette has reported that the "other realistic scenario" for WVU (besides the SEC) was to "remain in the reconfigured Big East."

If that league can pull off a successful merger with the leftover members of the Big 12 in the wake of that league's seemingly-inevitable dissolution, the Mountaineers may land on their feet. If not, the news reported by McMurphy today may be news that stings the Morgantown faithful for years to come.

Posted on: September 19, 2011 5:35 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2011 6:14 pm

OU Regents authorize Boren to seek new conference

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Oklahoma Board of Regents met on Monday afternoon and the conference affiliation of Oklahoma was one of the topics that was discussed. While there wasn't any earth-shattering news to come out of the meeting, Oklahoma at least seemed to take the next step in eventually moving from the Big 12 to the Pac 12.

The school has authorized President David Boren to take whatever action he deems necessary in deciding Oklahoma's future. Which doesn't exactly sound like the sort of thing a school that is planning to stick around in its current conference would do.

Especially when Boren himself said afterward that he is "prepared to take those actions" and that he's had "informal conversations with the Pac-12." Conversations that Boren described as "warm" and "constructive."

Sounds like a love connection to me.

While nothing is certain at this point, odds are that if Oklahoma does make the jump to the Pac-12, then it will be bringing Oklahoma State along with it. Which is why it's not much of a surprise to see that Oklahoma State's Board of Regents will meet on Wednesday to discuss conference affiliation as well.

Texas and Texas Tech have also been mentioned as possible schools to follow this 21st century version of manifest destiny, and Texas' Board of Regents also met on Monday to discuss conference affiliation.
Posted on: September 19, 2011 2:50 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2011 2:51 pm

There's a new billboard in Waco

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Remember a time, long, long ago in which Texas A&M was deciding it was through with the Big 12 and was leaving for the SEC? Those were the ancient days of August 2011 when Texas A&M was destroying college football. Now, a few school defections and nearly two dead conferences later, Texas A&M is still officially a member of the Big 12 even though it wants to leave. That's due to a lawsuit that Baylor is threatening to file against the SEC, and the SEC doesn't want to do anything with the threat of litigation hanging over its head.

So it seems that some Texas A&M supporters have figured out a way to approach Baylor and try to get the school to let go. They've done this by putting up a billboard in Waco that appeals to Baylor's Christian sensibilities.

Now, I haven't been to church in a long time, but I did see Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments last spring, and I'm pretty sure that wasn't on on either of the stone tablets that Chuck brought down from the mountain. I could be wrong, though. 

Via @DerekAggie06 
Posted on: September 19, 2011 1:19 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2011 1:22 pm

PODCAST: Brett McMurphy talks realignment

Posted by Tom Fornelli

With the conference realignment dominoes beginning to fall all over the country thanks to the announcement that Pitt and Syracuse are leaving the Big East for the ACC over the weekend, there are a lot of questions to be answered about what the college sports landscape will look like when the dust finally settles.

Thankfully CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy and Matt Norlander sit down to discuss what this all means for the Big East and the ACC, and also talk about the possible moves by the Pac-12 and SEC. Listen below, download the mp3, or popout the player for continued browsing.

Posted on: September 18, 2011 7:04 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2011 7:42 pm

Report: Texas, others closer to forming Pac-16

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The Pac-12 is in the advanced stages of a plan to bring Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State into the fold, according to various reports. Though Texas has long been linked as a potential target of the Pac-12, the Longhorn Network has always been a stumbling block for negotiations... until now.

It appears a compromise on the programming of the LHN is in the works, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman, and perhaps the Longhorn Network won't be all Texas, all the time in the future:

Nothing has been accepted or approved, yet, but the deal would allow the Longhorns to keep the Longhorn Network.

Texas, though, would have to add Pac-12 (soon to be 16) content to the LHN programming.

The Longhorns would be able to keep all of their revenue from the network if that amount is greater than one-sixteenth of what the entire Pac-12 receives for its third-tier rights. However, if one-sixteenth of the money the Pac-12 receives from third-tier rights ends up being a larger amount, the schools would divide the revenue evenly and everybody would receive the same amount, the source said.

Plans for the then-Pac-10 to bring Texas and a cadre of its mates from the former Big XII South to help form a Pac-16 crumbled in 2010 during the first round of conference realignment, with plans getting hung up on whether the four Texas schools in the Big 12 would be forced to remain together in a potential move or not. For as vocal as Baylor has been in trying to block Texas A&M's move to the SEC, it likely won't sit quietly this time around either, but so far there's been no public comment on this report by Baylor president Ken Starr or anybody else there.

As for football play in the hypothetical Pac-16, if the American-Statesman report is to be believed, talks are advanced enough that the conference is planning four four-team pods where each team would play its fellow pod members once, then two teams from each of the other three pods for a total of nine conference games. That would lead to a host of logistical questions in terms of tiebreakers and scheduling inequities year to year, but it's just about the fairest way to handle a 16-team football league without scheduling 15 conference games a year. 

If the move goes through, and if Texas A&M does indeed join the SEC as it's been trying to do for a while now, the Big 12 would be left with just five teams: Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, and the aforementioned Baylor. There will likely be a host of Big East football programs looking for a new conference to latch onto if the ACC continues siphoning programs away, so the Big 12 may see its footprint expand east. The provision mandating that a conference maintain a group of five members together for five consecutive years was removed on August 1, 2011 (thanks, @bylawblog), so the Big 12 isn't in any danger of outright disbanding unless it can't get eight eligible members together for a season. Considering SMU, Houston, and the suddenly vulnerable TCU are all viable expansion candidates right there in the state of Texas, to say nothing of programs like Louisville and Cincinnati who may be in danger of losing BCS conference status, disbanding seems exceedingly unlikely.  

At any rate, Oklahoma and Texas (opens .PDF file in new window) both have Board of Regents meetings already scheduled for Monday afternoon -- with conference realignment on their agendas -- so nobody's going to be kept waiting about this report for very long. 

Posted on: September 18, 2011 4:58 pm

West Virginia statement doesn't mention Big East

Posted by Adam Jacobi

It's never a good sign when a school offers a statement in the middle of conference realignment, and not only does it reaffirm its commitment to its current conference, it doesn't even bother mentioning its current conference at all. Such is the state of affairs with West Virginia's statement, proffered by athletic director Oliver Luck Sunday afternoon. Here's the statement in full:

"There is no question that the landscape of college athletics is once again changing. West Virginia University has great tradition as the state’s flagship land-grant institution, and we will continue working to do what’s best for our University and its athletic teams. No matter how the college athletic landscape changes, there is no doubt WVU is and will remain a national player."  

Right--not exactly a good omen for the Big East. Luck is right, of course; the Mountaineers would be a solid fit in both the ACC and the SEC, and maybe even the Big 12 if things get really weird. The only way West Virginia doesn't get picked up by a major conference is if the school fails to be proactive in its future endeavors, and what Luck is telling Mountaineer fans in this statement is that won't happen.

Posted on: September 18, 2011 2:13 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2011 2:27 pm

Big East and ACC schools react to expansion

Posted by Chip Patterson

Pittsburgh and Syracuse have been accepted to the ACC.  It's been signed, sealed, and the process of Big East withdrawl will be the next challenge for the 13th and 14th schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference.  The move caught the Big East offguard, and provided a more certain future for the ACC's current schools.

The uncertain future of the Big East can be identified in the responses from other Big East member schools. Take, for example, this statement released by University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst.
"UConn is pour charter member of the BIG EAST and we have taken a lead role in the league's success over the years. However, it is my responsibility as President that we stay in constant communication and be actively involved in discussions with our counterparts from around the country to ensure the successful long-term future of our university's athletic program. The truth is that our teams will play competitive athletics at the highest level of excellence, wherever things land, and our central goals will be academic success and compliance, as always."
Those phrases about "constant communication" and "wherever things land" make it seem as though Connecticut is ready to flirt, if they have not already started to do so. USA Today cited an ACC official in reporting that the conference would be open to adding two more East Coast teams - and said Connecticut and Rutgers would be the candidates.

What about the reaction from the the current ACC members? Obviously the addition of the Panthers and Orange are a huge boost to an already prominent basketball reputation, but the greatest impact for each of the current member schools will not be associated with one particular sport. The ACC's current media deal with ESPN allows renegotiation in the event the ACC added members to the 12-team roster. The advantages of Pittsburgh and Syracuse have already been hinted at by many, particularly Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson.

"From a regional standpoint, adding these two high-quality schools will enhance the marketing footbpring of the league," Anderson said in a prepared statement. "Both Pittsburgh and New York City will offer the conference new opportunities to attract fans in all our sports. We look forward to discussions about the future of the league and would encourage future expansion."

Anderson hit the nail on the head for the ACC's current members: marketing. The conference will now get to expand their brand into two major markets that where there was previously no ACC presence. Increasing the marketing opportunities will raise the value of the product - and thus raise the pay day each school could expect from a renegotiated media deal. Anderson not only gave his approval for the addition of the two new markets, but has even given his thumbs up on the move to 16.

In a teleconference with the media on Sunday, ACC commissioner said they would not be "philosophically opposed" to further expansion, but stressed his content with the current 14-team lineup. Judging by the reports, it seems the conference will sit back and see who moves next. Conference realignment has become a board game, with players strategizing and analyzing each possible move. The ACC has used their turn, and now will likely see how the Big East and Big 12 schools react in the next few weeks.

Texas and Oklahoma will likely step up next, and the college football landscape will wait - and react - to whatever move they choose to make.

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Posted on: September 18, 2011 5:32 am
Edited on: September 18, 2011 5:56 am

What I learned from the Big Ten (Sep. 17)

Posted by Adam Jacobi

1. It's Wisconsin, then everybody else. In a week where Ohio State and Michigan State both flunked their first major tests and Nebraska looked increasingly like a three-loss team in the making, Wisconsin blew out yet another opponent, this time working NIU 49-7. And yes, Northern Illinois is a MAC team, but a good one at that, and one that was expected by Vegas to keep the game within three scores. That went out the window by halftime, and the Huskies never looked capable of challenging Wisconsin. Russell Wilson (pictured above, striking a perhaps prophetic figure) looked fantastic once again, and now it's down to him and Denard Robinson in early consideration for first team All-Big Ten at QB.

As for things that aren't perfect about Wisconsin, it's a pretty short list. Russell Wilson did finally threw an interception, so he's clearly mortal, but even that's bad news for the Big Ten -- if he's mortal, then the rest of the Big Ten can't play its games against Wisconsin under protest (because immortal QBs have to be illegal, right?). We'll know way more once Nebraska comes to Madison on October 1, but until then, this is a one-team race.

2. It's Ohio State's turn to have no quarterbacks: Last week, Penn State's duo of Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin combined for a horrific 12-39, 144-yard passing tally in a 27-11 loss to Alabama. McGloin in particular submitted a near-impossible 1-10, 0-yard performance. But hey, at least it was against Alabama; facing Temple on Saturday, PSU went a much more reasonable 22-37 through the air for 216 yards (and confoundingly, McGloin looked far better than Bolden). Not great, but not awful.

No, awful had somewhere else to be, and this week, that was "under center for Ohio State." Ohio State lost to Miami under the lights at Sun Life Stadium, 24-6, and it looked capital-B Bad in the process. Facing Miami's secondary, which certainly isn't as good as Alabama's, QBs Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller combined for the following line, which contains no typos: 4-18, 35 yards, 1 INT. Passer rating: 27.4. HELPFUL POINT OF COMPARISON: Penn State's passer rating vs. Alabama was 56.7. Yes, for as awful as Penn State look against the Crimson Tide defense, Ohio State was way, way worse on Saturday.

Needless to say, the OSU tailbacks weren't thrilled at the result. "I felt like me and Jordan were doing a great job in the run game, so I felt we should have just come out and ran at them," OSU tailback Carlos Hyde said after the game. "We should have manned up and ran straight at them, see if they could stop us. I think it would have worked. I mean, to me, I don't think they were stopping us on the run, so I feel like it probably would have worked."

Just as with Penn State last week, there will be better days for both OSU QBs over the rest of the season. There just has to be. Otherwise, we'll have two stadiums on the east side of the Big Ten, filled with 100,000+ fans who'll have nothing to say. And for once, neither will be the Big House. I KID, I KID, Michigan. You're a peach.

3. The Big Ten is almost certainly not expanding east: If one continues to subscribe to the theory that the Big Ten will join the ranks of the 16-team superconferences, one would have thought recently that its expansion would be largely eastward, with both the Big East and ACC seemingly vulnerable. Slight problem for that plan, though: the ACC is getting proactive in a hurry, and now the main suspects for Big Ten expansion to the northeast are all off the table. Syracuse and Pitt are in the ACC, and if the USA Today report is correct, UConn and Rutgers are next for the ACC. That basically dooms Big East football, and of the five football-participating conference members left (TCU, South Florida, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Louisville), none look like strong candidates for Big Ten membership and all that entails, to say nothing of their limited geographical desirability.

Moreover, even the potential big-ticket schools out there have severe challenges for fitting in the Big Ten. Texas and Notre Dame have their own lucrative television deals already, and thus probably zero interest in equal revenue sharing in the Big Ten Network's plan. The remaining Big 12 North teams are more likely to join the rest of the Big East's football programs en masse than to split entirely off of their traditional base of rivals and go it alone in a new conference. And after all that, there just aren't a lot of schools that would bring more value to the Big Ten than they'd command in an equal revenue sharing program -- at which point it makes no sense to expand at all.

So when Jim Delany says the Big Ten's "as comfortable as we could be" staying at 12 teams... he probably means it.

4. Even Michigan State can disappear on offense: I mentioned in the Big Ten Bullet Points that MSU had to put up large amounts of points to hang with Notre Dame, because the Irish were going to get theirs pretty much no matter what. Notre Dame held up its end of the bargain, racking up 31 points in a variety of ways. MSU? Not so much. The Spartans managed 13 points of their own, and that's almost entirely due to Notre Dame's rushing defense coming up big. The vaunted Spartan rushing attack managed just 29 yards on 23 carries, and MSU effectively abandoned the run in the second half after Notre Dame established a double-digit lead.

That's a shocking result for a backfield that was universally regarded as the second-best in the Big Ten, and the only one even close to matching the potency of Wisconsin's ground game. MSU's got plenty more tough road dates coming its way once conference play starts, and plenty more stout front sevens to face. If this is the way Michigan State responds to tough defenses, it's going to be a long year in East Lansing. 

5. James Vandenberg and Iowa are not dead (yet): When Pittsburgh took a 24-3 lead at Iowa late in the third quarter, Hawkeye fans began panicking; this was the worst deficit the Hawkeyes had faced in four years, and a larger deficit than Iowa had ever overcome for a win. Ever. Quarterback James Vandenberg looked out of sorts for most of the first three quarters, and announcers were wondering for the second straight week if he just couldn't overcome a shaky set of nerves. All of this on top of a three-overtime loss to rival Iowa State the week prior made the outlook dim and grim for Iowa.

All of a sudden, Vandenberg and the Iowa offense sprang to life, racing to a 60-yard touchdown drive in 1:55 of play, and when Pittsburgh could only manage a field goal in response after achieving a first and goal at Iowa's 3-yard line, Iowa smelled blood. The Hawkeyes stayed in a hurry-up offense for the rest of the game, and Vandenberg engineered three fast but sustained touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to bring Iowa back for the 31-27 victory. Vandenberg went 14-17 for 153 yards and three TDs in the 4th quarter alone, and none of his last four touchdown drives lasted any longer than 2:11 -- or went for any fewer than 60 yards.

Iowa can't rely on 153-yard, 3-TD quarters from its quarterbacks, ever, so this will almost certainly be a result in isolation from the rest of the season -- especially since there were a lot of recurring problems that Pitt exploited in both Iowa's pass rush and its secondary. But at the very least Iowa's not 1-2 right now, and it's not on the ledge of disaster and/or apathy before the conference season even begins. Whether the Hawkeyes can parlay this comeback into big things down the line remains to be seen, but it was a magical afternoon at Kinnick Stadium either way.

6. Northwestern is not kidding about bringing Dan Persa back slowly: Northwestern put Dan Persa in uniform for its Week 3 matchup against Army, and Persa warmed up with the offense, but when the Wildcats struggled for most of the contest, it was Trevor Siemian why came in to spell Kain Colter, not Persa. Siemian would throw a game-tying pass to Jeremy Ebert, but Army still ended up prevailing in a stunner, 21-14. With a bye week next for Northwestern, Persa should be ready to go for the next game on October 1. If so, that's a merciful end to the Kain Colter era for the time being, and Persa can probably right the Good Ship Northwestern just a tad.

One does have to wonder, though -- shouldn't someone in the football program have notified the athletic department that Persa probably wasn't going to play a snap until October before the department put up Persa For Heisman billboards? The billboards came down after just two weeks; did nobody know he'd still be out today? And here Northwestern was supposed to be the "smart" member of the Big Ten.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com