Tag:Conference Expansion
Posted on: September 13, 2011 12:40 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2011 11:26 am
 

Report: Oklahoma wants out and Big 12 is 'done'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We can't personally vouch for the credibility of the Austin-American Statesman's sources. But if the picture portrayed by those sources in this story by Kirk Bohls and Alan Trubow is at all accurate, the day of reckoning for the Big 12 is just about at hand.

According to the report -- and as also reported by CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd -- University of Texas president Bill Powers and athletic director DeLoss Dodds flew to Oklahoma Sunday for a meeting with Sooners officials. Powers' and Dodds' aim, according to Bolhs and Trubow: convince Oklahoma (and by association, joined-at-the-hip in-state rival Oklahoma State) to remain in the Big 12 and forgo applying for membership in the Pac-12.

But according to the report's sources, the Sooners' minds were -- and are -- already made up. They're looking West:
"There's nothing Texas could have offered Oklahoma that would have changed their mind. They were set on leaving the Big 12 before Texas got there," a well-placed source at a Big 12 school said, adding that Sunday's meeting had a very friendly and cooperative tone. "The Big 12's done. Oklahoma wasn't open to creating Big 12 stability" ...

"Texas must have come into the meeting and seen the handwriting on the wall," said a source close to OU and Texas who is familiar with these realignment issues. "I think OU and OSU will seek membership to the Pac-12 in the next two weeks, but [Texas] A&M comes first."
Despite the Sooners' and Cowboys' intentions, even the report isn't ready to move the realignment chess pieces just yet. While the Oklahoma and Oklahoma State move is "expected," Larry Scott -- who has said repeatedly the Pac-12 doesn't want to expand at this time -- and the Pac-12 presidents could reject the Sooners' and Cowboys' applications.

But assuming Scott does pull the trigger, Texas would be left without a viable conference as the Big 12 crumbles. Per the report, their options at that stage would be to follow the Oklahoma schools to the Pac-12 (or -14), apply to join the ACC, or go independent--and the report claims Texas officials have already had highly preliminary talks with the ACC.

While independence is described as the least appealing option for Dodds and Texas officials, the Longhorn Network could be a major stumbling block for joining one of the other conferences. According to Bohls and Trubow, "Texas has no desire to part, alter or share any aspect of The Longhorn Network, but it would not be able to retain the network as is in the Pac-12." The Longhorns are also reportedly balking at the Pac-12's plan for divisional alignments in a 16-team scenario.

So what's the bottom line right now? With the Statesman report backing the widespread rumors that the Sooners are ready to pack their bags, it seems safe to assume that Oklahoma is indeed bent on abandoning the Big 12 and concluding its viability as a conference. But past that? Every other conference realignment chip is still in the air, and it remains anybody's guess where they fall.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview.

Posted on: August 29, 2011 7:01 pm
 

Notre Dame will say no to the Big 12

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Big 12 has thrown out some big names for potential replacements, with perhaps none being bigger than the old conference expansion standby, Notre Dame. Unfortunately for the Big 12, if Notre Dame is the conference's Plan A for replacing Texas A&M, then it's already time to move on to Plan B.

In a talk with the American-Statesman's Kirk Bohls, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick repeated the same party line he's been repeating for years now. Notre Dame isn't interested in your conference.

“Our priority — and our clear priority — is maintaining our football independence and continuing to build our relationship with the Big East with our other sports,” said Swarbrick.

Sorry, Big 12, but it's not going to happen, and if you ever felt otherwise, you were just being foolish.

If Notre Dame was to ever decide that it wanted to join a conference, the Big Ten would be it's first destination. Not only has the Big Ten invited the school numerous times, but tradition wise, it just makes a lot more sense. The school has longstanding rivalries against three Big Ten schools already in Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue, so the transition wouldn't be that difficult to make.

Plus, even if Notre Dame wanted to join the Big 12, would it even make sense for the Big 12 to want Notre Dame in the fold? Think about it, one of the main reasons there is such unrest in the Big 12 in the first place is the preferential treatment many in the conference feel Texas gets, particularly with the new arrival of the Longhorn Network.

Well guess what Notre Dame has hopes of launching in the future? That's right, it's own network. So how would adding a second school that gets to play by its own rules help matters any? 
Posted on: August 26, 2011 2:27 am
Edited on: August 26, 2011 10:12 am
 

Dan Beebe responds to Texas A&M statement

Posted by Adam Jacobi

In the latest chapter in the ongoing flirtations between Texas A&M and the SEC, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe (pictured at right) has responded to Texas A&M's Thursday announcement that the Aggies were exploring a switch in conferences.

First, the statement in full, from the conference offices:

The letter received today from Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin will be addressed by the Big 12 Conference Board of Directors. It remains our strong desire for Texas A&M to continue as a member of the Big 12 and we are working toward that end. However, if it is decided otherwise, the Conference is poised to move aggressively with options.

Beebe should be careful here, as the only high-level unaffiliated football programs out there are Notre Dame and BYU (no offense, Army or Navy), and saying the conference is "poised to move aggressively" implies that there's a willing candidate already in Beebe's mind. Yes, that almost certainly could mean SMU, who's practically begging for a BCS invite, but if the Big 12 adds Houston (as has allegedly been mentioned by the conference as a possibility before), the Conference USA brass might have the grounds to suggest that the Big 12 was admitting to interfering with Conference USA business, and that could mean the threat of legal action.

That said, it could also mean something much less litigious, like adding BYU and/or Notre Dame in football only, and either gently phasing in the other sports (as both schools have full pre-existing conference affiliations outside of football) or leaving it a football-only arrangement entirely. 

Not only that, there are probably plenty of expansion candidates off the metaphorical radar with which the Big 12 has had some sort of contact, and maybe Beebe has the sense that they're privately amenable to a conference change. Again, we're talking about off the radar, so it would be reckless to speculate (see: flat-out guess) on possible schools, but Beebe would be derelict in his duty as a conference commissioner if he didn't have a contingency plan for any type of expansion -- especially one based on how willing the other schools would be to move to the Big 12.

We'll say this, though: Texas A&M is still not even an applicant (much less a member or invitee) of the SEC yet. That's likely to change, but it hasn't yet. So if Dan Beebe can wrangle four of his conference members away from a potential Pac-16 in 2010, then somehow brink Texas A&M back from the bring of "SECession," he's got to be the biggest miracle worker among conference commissioners. Alas for Beebe, miracles are miracles for a reason, and this one's probably not going to happen.


Posted on: August 24, 2011 1:41 pm
 

Brian Kelly won't rule out joining a conference

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Though the fires have cooled off a bit on Conferenceageddon 2K11 as we all sit and wait for Texas A&M to officially announce its plans on joining the SEC, that doesn't mean that the superconferences of the future are dead. We're all likely to see a lot of changes in the college football landscape in the coming years as conferences expand.

One school that's name has already been tossed around plenty when it comes to expansion is Notre Dame. The school has been courted by the Big Ten for years, and has also been tabbed as a potential replacement for Texas A&M in the Big 12. The problem is that at no point has Notre Dame ever seemed eager to give up its independent status. Though that feeling could be changing, or at least it is on the Notre Dame coaching staff.

While appearing on The Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday morning, Brian Kelly said that he wouldn't rule out Notre Dame one day joining a conference.

"You can't rule out anything with college football" Kelly said on the show. "We have to be prepared for anything."

Kelly then went on to talk about conference expansion in college football, saying that things are "only going to continue to go in this route" and that one day Notre Dame may not have any other choice but to join a conference.

Of course, there's a huge difference between Kelly saying this on a radio show and Notre Dame actually having any plans to follow through on it. Still, I can't help but feel like Jim Delany hopped on the phone the second he heard Kelly's comments.

 
Posted on: August 19, 2011 1:56 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2011 2:06 pm
 

Big Ten has "closed down conference expansion"

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The Big Ten announced on Friday that despite all the whispers about 16-team superconferences, anyone expecting the Big Ten to make a seismic shift in the conference alignment landscape is probably going to be left waiting. As the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) noted in a statement, the conference is "not actively engaged in conference expansion at this time, or at any time in the foreseeable future, barring a significant shift in the current intercollegiate athletic landscape."

That significant shift might be just the SEC swelling to 14-16 teams, but considering the usually staid nature of the conference when it comes to realignment, one or two defections down south might not be enough to get the ball rolling for Jim Delany and his member schools. 

Here is the statement issued Friday, in full:

Park Ridge, Ill. – The Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) met recently to discuss reform issues and expansion. The following statement is issued by the Big Ten office on behalf of the COP/C.

In response to a number of recent media inquiries received by several Big Ten Presidents and Chancellors regarding the likelihood of further expansion by the Big Ten, the COP/C would like to reiterate that it will not be actively engaged in conference expansion at this time, or at any time in the foreseeable future, barring a significant shift in the current intercollegiate athletic landscape.

The COP/C is aware that speculation about the possibility of expansion by the Big Ten Conference continues despite a statement from COP/C Chair and Indiana University President Michael McRobbie on December 5, 2010, indicating that the COP/C believed the expansion process had reached its natural conclusion, that it was pleased with the addition of Nebraska, and that it looked forward to working with its new colleagues in the years ahead.

The conference has spent the past 14 months actively engaged in incorporating Nebraska, academically and athletically, into the fabric of the conference. "We're about as comfortable as we can be with where we are,” said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany. “We've said that we will continue to monitor the landscape, but we have closed down active expansion and have no plans to seek new members.”

This is a pretty unequivocal statement, provided the conference alignment landscape stays roughly the same. Whether the Texas A&M-to-SEC move (provided it actually happens) sets off a chain of more defections and additions -- or remains more isolated like the Nebraska and Colorado moves of 2010 -- will likely determine whether the Big Ten stays set at 12 or whether this statement will be rendered quaint by the new state of college athletics.

The message from Delany and his presidents/chancellors is clear, though -- the other conferences might force expansion, but the Big Ten won't be the first to go down that road.

Posted on: August 13, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: August 13, 2011 12:22 pm
 

SEC to discuss A&M on Sunday

Posted by Tom Fornelli

If you've spent any time on Twitter or message boards lately, then you've probably heard the news that the SEC has expanded to a 64-team league at this point, as schools from all over the country have been rumored to be joining the league. Realistically, though, it appears that there is only one team that is serious about joining the league, and that would be Texas A&M.

Of course, just because a team is interested in the SEC that doesn't always mean the SEC's interest is mutual, but according to a report in the New York Times, the SEC will meet in a secret location on Sunday to discuss the possibility of bringing Texas A&M into the conference.

Pete Thamel reports that a high-ranking SEC official has told him that the league presidents will meet at a secret location on Sunday to discuss the move, and that there's a "30 to 40 percent chance" that the SEC presidents will decide against A&M joining the fold. The reason for that is because the SEC has no plans to expand to just 13 teams, and it would need another school to complete any expansion.

“We realize if we do this, we have to have the 14th,” the SEC official told the paper. “No name has been thrown out. This thing is much slower out of the shoot than the media and blogs have made it.” 

In other words, that report you heard on Saturday morning about Texas A&M, Clemson, Florida State and Missouri all joining the SEC to form the first super conference is a bit premature. Missouri AD Mike Alden told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that there was "nothing" to the report and that Missouri isn't talking to anybody.

The Big 12 athletic directors are scheduled to have a conference call with commissioner Dan Beebe on Saturday afternoon with every AD except Texas A&M's Bill Byrne expected to be on the call. However, before you read too far into that, remember that Byrne is currently in Europe at the moment.
Posted on: July 5, 2011 12:00 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 4:48 pm
 

Temple recruits: Move to Big East coming soon

Posted by Chip Patterson

July 1 marked the first day in the house for recent conference jumpers like Utah and Nebraska. As the conferences continue to realign, eyes continue to turn to the 8-team Big East. With TCU arriving in 2012 and the negotiation of a new media deal on the horizon, it is assumed that the conference will be making more moves in the near future to increase membership. Jason Brewer, of SB Nation Philly, pulled together some interesting quotes from Temple recruits that suggest the Owls rumored move back into the Big East could come as soon as after this season.

First came quotes earlier from Temple Football Forever, which included TE Tanner Kearns sharing his excitement for the potential to play in Lincoln Financial Field and "knows" the Owls "plan on moving to the Big East soon." The father of Temple commit CB Tavon Young took it a step further, stating his son will be close to home and "in the Big East in 2012." Add those quotes to the recent statements from LB Michael Kalaman and TE Jameson McShea and you've got to assume that there there is something going on behind the scenes in Philadelphia.

Temple spent 14 years in the Big East before their departure in the exodus of 2003-2004. Since then current Miami head coach Al Golden worked to rebuild the program from within the MAC, bringing the Owls their first postseason appearance in 30 years in 2009. After his departure to the Hurricanes, the hiring of Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio has helped continue the momentum that Golden started in Philadelphia.

But Temple is not the only team that has been discussed in possible Big East expansion. The conference nearly gave one bid away to Villanova before discussions took a turn in another direction, many believe that UCF is a football powerhouse in the making that could benefit the conference geographic balance, and recently the addition of Army and Navy has been discussed. I doubt that Temple's staff would be outright lying to recruits, so they at least have some reason to believe that Temple's invitation to the BCS ranks could be coming in time to join along with TCU.

Big East commissioner John Marinatto told CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy that there is no "best model" for Big East expansion, but there is certainly an end date. By September 2012, the conference needs to be set in their membership in order to capitalize on the negotiation of a new media deal when their current one with ESPN expires. ESPN has already made moves to try and begin those talks, but the conference still has some moves to make before they are comfortable presenting their future product. Temple's potential addition would bring the conference to ten teams heading into the 2012 season, but what would that mean for their Philadelphia brethren Villanova? The Wildcats, already a member of the conference in every sport but football and women's lacrosse, would be one of the easier additions logistically. If the Big East brings in both schools to the football conference, that leaves only one spot left to finish with the magical 12-team count needed to hold a conference championship game. With UCF, Army, Navy, Houston, and East Carolina all likely interested in making the jump, someone is going to get left out. Again.

With all of the other five conferences securing new media deals in the last couple years, the Big East gets to be the prettiest girl at the dance for the next several months. Sure, the schools left aren't exactly the lighting up the BCS standings (only UCF and Houston have ever been ranked); but there is still a lot of potential value for a conference looking to make a statement on the national scene.


Posted on: April 11, 2011 11:54 am
Edited on: April 11, 2011 5:34 pm
 

Villanova's Big East decision delayed [UPDATED]

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Big East has been waiting for Villanova to make a decision on whether or not it would be joining the conference as its tenth football member, and it looks like the conference will need to wait a few more months. Villanova's Board of Trustees have spent the last couple of days discussing the subject, and though the school was expected to make its announcement on Tuesday, it released a statement on Monday morning saying that no such decision will be coming.

Though the delay seems to be more the Big East's doing than Villanova's.

"Villanova recently learned that the Big East Conference needs more time to do its due diligence regarding Villanova’s potential football membership," the university said in a statement. "Villanova is now working with the Big East to provide whatever additional information we can. It is the university’s desire that in the near future its Board of Trustees will proceed with the vote as planned."

Considering that the statement says the Big East needs more time, and that the school wants to proceed with its vote as planned, I'm inclined to believe that means Villanova wants to make the jump, and the Big East may be having some second thoughts. Again, that's just pure speculation on my part from an attempt to read between the lines.

While the schools concern over making the jump from the FCS to the FBS level is no doubt financial, the Big East is likely concerned with where Villanova would play its home games. At the moment the leader in the clubhouse for Villanova home games would be PPL Park in Chester, but the stadium as presently constructed holds only 18,000 fans. That would make PPL Park the smallest stadium in the Big East by far, with only Idaho and FIU having smaller stadiums in the FBS.

Of course, PPL Park does not have to be a long-term solution. It is possible that Villanova could move into Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, after the 2017 season, when Temple's lease expires.

Odds are that, even with concerns, the Big East will try to do everything it can to make this Villanova move work. While the conference wants to add a tenth member to the conference, it would also prefer not to add another school to a basketball conference that will already claim 17 teams once TCU makes the move next year.

Though if the conference decides Villanova is not a viable option, or Villanova ultimately decides against the move, that would mean Central Florida, Houston and Memphis would once again be in play.

[UPDATE, 5:30 pm: Big East commissioner John Marinatto has just released a statement on the matter. It is reprinted in full below.]

“The Big East Conference and Villanova University have worked closely with each other over the past several months regarding potential football membership. We will continue with our due diligence process and work with Villanova to continue to share relevant information and materials. The Big East Conference obviously very much values its long-standing relationship with Villanova and we are committed to continuing to work with them on this matter in an open and forthright manner. Until there is additional information to report, the conference plans no further comment.”

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