Tag:conference realignment
Posted on: January 26, 2012 11:36 am
 

Chuck Neinas calls Missouri 'selfish'

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas called Missouri "selfish" in an interview with the Charleston Gazette while talking about conference realignment and the Big 12's future. According to Neinas, the current lawsuit between West Virginia and the Big East as the school tries to replace Missouri probably wouldn't be happening if not for Missouri.

"The one thing that gets lost is we're in this predicament because the SEC invited Missouri," Neinas told the paper. "But the SEC was willing to play with 13 [rather than 14] next season. We made an offer to Missouri that was financially beneficial to stay for another year. Missouri made the decision not to accept.

"We had a teleconference call with those in the SEC, Big East, ACC, Mountain West and Conference USA. We all agreed we could save money and avoid litigation if all held serve for 2012-13. All agreed. But Missouri made a very selfish decision. It's been very disruptive. Missouri gave us notice in November [of 2011] and it's pretty difficult to move forward then." 

Now, while Neinas may have a point and might even be right, I must admit, I find the fact that conferences are calling schools selfish to be a bit funny. After all, it's not as if the conferences are worried about the well being of other conferences while they seek schools to join their own.

I don't think the Big 12 decided to invite West Virginia to replace Missouri because it was in the Big East's best interest.

Speaking of the Big East, Neinas had some comments for them as well.

"The Big East gets on planes and flies all over the country inviting other schools," Neinas said. "But they raise hell when West Virginia wants to come to the Big 12?"

Considering that the Big 12 is still exploring further expansion and another Big East school, Louisville, is a likely target, it's probably safe to say that the Big 12 and Big East won't be sitting at the same table in the conference cafeteria anytime soon. 

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 11:27 am
 

The Big 12 still looking to expand

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Maybe you thought conferences were done expanding after all the movement we saw before the 2011 season started. After all, nobody was shuffling the deck during the season. Then on Tuesday it was announced that Navy would be joining the Big East for the 2015 season, and it looks like the dominoes have started falling again.

According to The Chronicle (subscription), the Big 12 is once again considering expanding the conference. While nothing is imminent, two sources told the paper that the Big 12 adding at least one new member is "very possible."

That new member would likely be Louisville, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Before it was announced that West Virginia would be joining the conference, there were reports that half the schools were split on which school they wanted to extend an invitation to. Half wanted West Virginia, half wanted Louisville.

An expansion committee plans to put together a report for the Big 12's Board of Directors next week. Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds, Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis, and Kansas State president Kirk Schulz make up the committee. 

“I don’t want to send the message, ‘Oh, they’re getting ready to expand,’” Castiglione told The Chronicle. “But you’d be naïve to think there’s not instability still in our business.

“From a transition standpoint, we’re in position now to deal with the reality of our world. We’re going to make some evaluations and reach the best conclusion that helps us stabilize our long-term future.”

The conference seems willing to stay at 11 teams, much like the Big Ten did for years, if it adds Louisville, but if the return of a Big 12 championship game is the ultimate goal, it will have to add a twelfth school. As for which school that would be, BYU is being mentioned as a possibility again. Cincinnati has also been mentioned as an option in the past as well.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 4:56 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 5:05 pm
 

Necessity, flexibility lead Navy to the Big East



Posted by Chip Patterson


The Big East welcomed Navy to the growing group of newcomers for football on Tuesday, announcing the school's intentions of joining the league for the 2015 season.

Navy will begin Big East conference play two years after the addition of San Diego State, Boise State, SMU, Houston, and UCF - but still after the official exit of Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and West Virginia. After more than 100 years of independence, Navy football will take on an official conference affiliation.

“The Naval Academy is pleased to accept the invitation for our football team to join the Big East Conference,” said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Michael Miller, USN. “After careful consideration, we believe this affiliation to be in the best interests of the Naval Academy, our athletic programs and the Brigade of Midshipmen. While our independent status has served Navy football well to date, Big East conference affiliation will help ensure our future scholar-athletes and athletic programs remain competitive at the highest levels for the foreseeable future.”

A recurring theme from the Navy administration, and even head coach Ken Niumatalolo, was the idea that conference affiliation was the safest way to ensure a program's survival in these rapidly changing times. The administration mentioned the difficulties of scheduling opponents for the future, as schools begin to hold more dates open for conference play. The bowl affiliations, and television packages were mentioned as driving factors in college football becoming more conference-centric.

Searching for a permanent home, the Academy looked to the Big East - advancing a decade-long conversation regarding possible membership. One of the aspects that made the league attractive to Navy was the Big East's willingness to accommodate the traditional rivalries with Army, Air Force, and Notre Dame in the conference schedule.  In addition to holding those three rivalries, the conference was willing to accomodate Navy's interests in hosting all home games on Saturdays - something of concern with the school's proximity to Washington, D.C..

With eight conference games, Navy's non-conference schedule will likely only leave room for one rotating opponent in order to maintain the Commander-in-Chief rivalry and the annual contest with Notre Dame. However if there is a change of heart at Air Force regarding Big East membership, Navy would only have two protected non-conference rivalries to schedule around.

Whether Air Force becomes the Big East's next target is yet to be seen, but one thing is clear: there will be more announcements coming from the conference regarding expansion.

"Please know our membership has worked hard to get to where we are today, but also know we are not done yet," commissioner John Marinatto said. "We feel we can get stronger, and will continue pursue interests from additional top-notch institutions to further enhance our competetiveness in both football and basketball."

If the Big East has 12 teams in competition for the 2015 season and a conference championship game, it would present a potentially unique situation for the Midshipmen.  Navy could win their division in 2015, then play the Big East championship game a week before their scheduled meeting with Army to close the regular season.    

For much more on Navy's move to the Big East, check out Brett McMurphy's blog and our Conference Realignment home page.

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Posted on: January 18, 2012 11:38 am
Edited on: January 18, 2012 12:41 pm
 

Pitt, Syracuse not likely on 2012 ACC schedule

Posted by Chip Patterson

With very little warning, the ACC made one of the most prominent moves in conference realignment in the middle of the 2011 regular season with the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East. The bylaw-mandated 27-month exit period was thought to be negotiable, but all signs from Big East commissioner John Marinatto indicate that the league will hold all departing members to full withdrawal process.

Following the process outlined in the bylaws would hold off the conference move until the 2014-2015 academic year. While the ACC has made it clear they are prepared to work with the Big East to get Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the league sooner, they have not made any legal efforts to expedite the process. With the release of the ACC regular season schedule coming in early February, it is beginning to look unlikely that either school will be in the ACC for the 2012 season.

"You never say never, but it's unlikely there would be major changes once [the schedule] is set," Mike Finn, ACC associate commissioner in charge of football communications, told The Charlotte Observer.

The SEC and Pac-12 have both released their conference schedules for 2012, and the rest of the major conferences will likely follow suit in the next several weeks. The ACC released the 2011 league schedule on Feb. 14.

While the ACC seems comfortable waiting out the exit period, West Virginia is having a much more difficult time leaving the Big East. Both the school and the conference have filed competing lawsuits regarding West Virginia's plans to join the Big 12, and a Rhode Island judge has ordered both parties to enter non-binding mediation. West Virginia hopes to reach a settlement allowing the school to join the Big 12 in time for the 2012 season, while the league has no plans of making exception to the bylaws. A status conference has been scheduled for Feb. 9, as both parties hope to reach a resolution before the Big East and Big 12 release their conference schedules.

When the Big East releases their schedule for 2012, I would expect to see West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse on the slate. If the Big 12 includes West Virginia as well, it could lead to potentially massive headaches for both conferences. It seems as though the ACC is content avoiding the legalities and welcoming their new additions at a later date.

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Posted on: December 14, 2011 2:05 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 2:06 pm
 

TCU has begun renovating Amon G. Carter Stadium



Posted by Tom Fornelli


As you can see in the photo above, when TCU said that its renovation of the east side of Amon G. Carter Stadium would begin immediately following the season, they weren't kidding. This is all part of a $164 million renovation plan that began last season with the north and west side of the stadium, and will be completed before the beginning of the 2012 season.

Which is pretty good timing considering that 2012 is when TCU will begin play in the Big 12 next season. The seating capacity for the stadium this season had been reduced to 34,000 but will be at 43,000 with the possibility to expand to 50,000 in the future.

The stadium opened in 1930.
Posted on: December 10, 2011 6:02 pm
 

Kevin Sumlin officially headed to Texas A&M

Posted by Chip Patterson

Bruce Feldman's report from Saturday afternoon was confirmed when Texas A&M officially announced the hiring of Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin.

"I am very excited about the opportunity to serve as the head football coach at Texas A&M University," Sumlin said in a prepared statement. "Having coached there before, I understand the culture and embrace the commitment by the 12th Man regarding Aggie football. Aggieland is a special place and I look forward to working with the young men in the football program and recruiting the type of players we need to be successful in the SEC."

Sumlin reportedly informed his Houston team of the move to College Station in a meeting on Saturday, with assistant Tony Levine serving as the interim head coach for the Cougars' appearance in the Ticket City Bowl against Penn State on Jan. 2.

Sumlin takes over after Mike Sherman was fired following a disappointing 6-6 finish to a season that started with high expectations for the Aggies. Texas A&M is hoping that the return of the former offensive coordinator - Sumlin worked under R.C. Slocum in 2001-02 - will help give the Aggies the momentum the program will need making the transition to the SEC.

As Bryan Fischer pointed out earlier today, Sumlin will have the opportunity to lock up a recruiting class that is currently ranked in the Top 10 nationally according to MaxPreps.com. The former Houston head coach carries a great reputation among players, and competing for recruits in the SEC is no easy task.

Houston is also on the move to a new conference, with the announcement on Friday of the Cougars' move to the Big East in 2013.

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Posted on: December 6, 2011 3:41 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 6:05 pm
 

Big East additions: what do they bring?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Big East will go a long way towards remaining a solvent football league this week when, as reported by CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphythey announce the additions of Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, UCF and SMU.

The additions will bring the conference's total number of football-playing members to 10, with Nos. 11 and 12 possibly soon to follow. But just as importantly, the expansion also gives the league a bona fide headliner--Boise brings their impeccable record at the non-AQ level, national recognition, and their attention-grabbing status as the No. 1 lightning rod for the FBS's ongoing haves-vs.-have-nots discussion.

But what do we know about the other four teams joining up? What do they bring to the table? What issues might they have to deal with? We've broken it down team-by-team:

HOUSTON

PROS: The Cougars are riding a Case Keenum-led high, having won 22 games in their star QB's last two healthy seasons, including the program's first bowl win since 1980 in 2009. But Houston has plenty going for it off the field, too; their location smack dab in the middle of one of the country's largest television markets (this is going to be a repeating theme) and most fertile recruiting grounds should pay the Big East dividends both in their TV negotiations and on the recruiting trail. If the Cougars themselves can capitalize on their new BCS status on the trails in Houston and nearby Louisiana, they could be a power for years to come.

CONS: What happens when Keenum and head coach Kevin Sumlin --as seems increasingly likely -- both depart for greener pastures? This is still a program that, as mentioned, has just one bowl win in the past 31 years and was in truly sorry shape when Art Briles (with Sumlin in tow) arrived in 2003. The wrong hire in the wake of Sumlin's exit could return the Cougars to their doormat days in a hurry. And as nice as the Houston market is, the Cougars still need to make more inroads into it; fulfilling a promise to expand or replace 32,000-seat Robertson Stadium would be a plus.

SMU

PROS: As with the Cougars, Dallas-based SMU has the advantage of being located in one of the nation's biggest metro markets, a major plus for the television bean counters. But the Mustangs also have an administration that hasn't been shy about throwing its financial support behind its formerly woebegone program, and that's not a "Pony Express" joke; the school opened Gerald J. Ford Stadium just 11 years ago and four seasons back ponied up the cash (that pun's intended) to lure June Jones from Hawaii. Result: three straight bowl bids after a 25-year drought, some of the best recruiting classes in Conference USA, and noticeably increased fan interest and attendance.

CONS: If the Mustangs can hang onto Jones, or replace him with another smart (and duly expensive) hire, they have more than enough potential to be a respectable member of the Big East for some time to come. (The league's higher-ups have to appreciate that the Mustangs defeated Big East deserters TCU this past season.) But the Dallas market and surrounding recruiting grounds are so ultra-competitive, turning SMU's resources and location into a legitimate BCS contender may take quite a few years and even more support from the SMU fanbase, which was called out by an SMU player this season for its lack of enthusiasm.

UCF

PROS: If there's any school that's put its money where its mouth is when it comes to supporting athletics, it's UCF, which opened the $55 million, 45,00-seat on-campus Bright House Networks Stadium four years ago amongst multiple other major facilities upgrades. Though a 5-7 2011 season has been a major disappointment for George O'Leary's program, this is still a team that's won two C-USA titles and earned three bowl bids in the past five years. As the second-largest school in the country in terms of enrollment and the only major college football program in the sizable Orlando market, a move to the Big East and a few years of consistent winning could give the Knights the push on the recruiting trail needed to become a legit BCS contender.

CONS: Of course, that's all assuming the NCAA Committee on Infractions doesn't give the program the USC treatment in the wake of the recent allegations against exiled athletic director Keith TribbleThough the Orlando market is an obvious TV positive, the Knight's central Florida location is both a blessing and a curse; while there's plenty of athletes available around which O'Leary (or his successor) can build a successful program, there's also few (if any) areas of the country where the competition for those athletes is more cutthroat. A few NCAA-hamstrung poor seasons could deal the program a blow that could take it years to recover from.

SAN DIEGO STATE

PROS: Long regarded as the "sleeping giant" of the Mountain West, the Aztecs finally went some way towards waking up with a 9-4 2010 season and just their second bowl berth in 19 years--a campaign that resulted in an attendance surge that ranked amongst the nation's best. Despite the loss of head coach Brady Hoke and multiple NFL talents, an 8-4 year and New Orleans Bowl berth wasn't a bad follow-up. Thanks to their access to California's bountiful recruiting grounds and the TV-friendly San Diego market, another good year or two for Rocky Long should lay the foundation for success for years to come.

CONS: As much potential as SDSU has on paper, this is still a program with just four bowl appearances and one win since 1969; just because it looks like it should be easy to win here doesn't mean it is. More than any of the other addditions save Boise, SDSU will add a sizable chunk to opponent's travel bills. And Long, already 61 years old, may not be the long-term answer at head coach; if he's not, will the Aztec brass be shrewd enough (or spend enough) to find another Hoke?

Posted on: November 10, 2011 1:18 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 1:22 pm
 

Expansion still on minds of some in the Big 12

Posted by Tom Fornelli

This will come as a shock to many of you, but it seems that there are still some things not every school in the Big 12 can agree on. While the Big 12's interim commissioner Chuck Neinas has said that the conference will remain at 10 schools after adding TCU and West Virginia to replace Texas A&M and Missouri, some members of the conference would still prefer expanding to 12, with Louisville being a top candidate.

The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel spoke with a source who was present when Neinas met with Oklahoma regents last weekend and the source said that Neinas is the driving force behind remaining at 10 schools. Neinas seems to believe the conference is better off without a championship game and playing a round-robin nine-game conference schedule.

Another source in Tramel's column is also very much in favor of the conference expanding and sees Louisville as a key addition.

“We have to explore what type of growth would have to be better for our conference,” the source told Tramel. “There’s no data that a conference of 16 is better than a conference of 12. In our case, the number is not the issue so much as the quality. But to make it better for West Virginia, we have to add Louisville. For our conference stability, adding Louisville is good for us because it would be good for West Virginia. The more we can get people to start talking about the greater good, the more stable this conference can become.”

Tramel also spoke to Oklahoma athletic direcotor Joe Castiglione who also believes that the Big 12 should look to add more schools.

“I think what Chuck might be doing is settling everything down, not letting speculation develop,” Castiglione said. “He may very well believe that staying at 10 is the best thing, and I respect that. But I don’t believe we should stay at 10, not with other moving parts.”

In other words, the more things change in the Big 12 -- new schools, new commissioner -- the more they stay the same.

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