Posted on: September 22, 2011 1:49 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2011 9:47 am
By Matt Norlander and Chip Patterson
Conference realignment has temporarily slowed down. With Texas A&M leaving the Big 12, and Syracuse making a move to the ACC with Pittsburgh, it seems we have seen most of the moves for 2011. But the threat of a complete shift in the college landscape got us at CBSSports.com thinking: "How will this all look in 2014?"
We selected that end date because that is when the current agreement between the BCS and the AQ conferences expires. At that point, each conference will be re-evaluated to determine its status as an automatic qualifier for the Bowl Championship Series. In a meeting of the minds between the college football and college basketball writers and bloggers, we mapped what we believe to be the most likely landscape for the six major conferences in 2014 for both sports. For some explanations on how the moves have/might come to be you can check out these realignment columns from Brett McMurphy and Jeff Goodman.
With the future conference rosters set, we took on the task of ranking the six leagues in our future conference power rankings. Here's the hoops angle and power rankings; Chip looked at the football side at the Eye on College Football.
Based on the projected movements, here are the CBSSports.com Future Conference Power Rankings:
1. BIG TEN (FOOTBALL RANK: 2, BASKETBALL RANK: 2) - One of our criteria for the joint power rankings was stability, and it is hard to get more stable than the oldest Division I conference. From a football perspective they already had a history of greatness on their side, and then in their most recent expansion boosted their stats even more with the addition of Nebraska. By 2014 Ohio State and Michigan will be out from the cloud of uncertainty in football, joining the Cornhuskers, Michigan State, and Wisconsin to lead the Big Ten elite.
Norlander referred to Indiana as a "sleeping giant" in basketball and I think he's absolutely correct. The Big Ten fields the second-most NCAA tournament bids in this future conference landscape, only trailing the ACC. Tom Izzo hasn't discussed retirement anytime soon, and the Spartans will lead the way on the court while a slew of football powers will try to end the SEC's streak of national championships. The reason Delany is not stressed about quantity is because this conference does have the most quality. -- Chip Patterson
2. SEC (FOOTBALL RANK: 1, BASKETBALL RANK: 6) - You see the power that football has in our overall conference rankings evidenced right here. Because for as amazing as the Southeastern Conference is on the field, it’s downright dour on the maple. No matter, the league is arguably the most stable of any conference because it’s so comfortable with its identity. Winning half a hundred football titles will do that. The SEC will continue to dictate the tempo and story of college football so long as its storied programs keep outrunning the rest of the country with that Es Eee Cee Speed.
Kentucky can carry the load in hoops, and all will be well. –- Matt Norlander
3. ACC (FOOTBALL RANK: 5, BASKETBALL RANK: 1) - From a football perspective, the ACC is adding three schools that combine for only three Top 25 finishes in the last decade. Additionally Virginia Tech's projected exit takes away four of the last seven conference championships. But in hoops? The expansion gives them 9 of the last 13 national champions and arguably five of the top programs in the nation. The increase in membership to 14 schools also adds stability to the conference, should there eventually be a shift to the 16 team superconference model. Losing Virginia Tech is a huge blow to the conference's football strength, but that fall-out is overshadowed by the new dominance in basketball. The combination puts them in the middle of the road for both sports, but opposite ends of the spectrum in each. -- CP
4. PAC-12 (FOOTBALL RANK: 3, BASKETBALL RANK: 4) - The Pac-12 is poised to eventually climb higher on this list thanks to its leadership and foresight into how to expand its brand and make loads of billions in the next decade. For now, the conference falls fourth in our overall rankings because its across-the-board quality in football and basketball, while solid, lacks the true dominance the SEC has in football, the ACC in basketball, and the utter balance the Big Ten owns in both.
But the league is secure. That we know. And no matter what happens down the road with conference tectonic-plate shifting, the West Coast will always need and demand representation. The Pac-12 will never fold. It may change names, but the conference will exist so long as we’re turning on the lights and rolling the ball out there. -- MN
5. BIG 12 (FOOTBALL RANK: 3, BASKETBALL RANK: 5) - The stability of this conference relies on Texas and Oklahoma. As the last several weeks have shown us, that is not a very comforting situation for the rest of the conference. But Longhorn Network be damned, this conference survived the Realignment Scare of 2011. With schools reportedly content with a 10-team football roster, BYU will bring some intrigue with their first opportunity in a BCS conference. The exit of Texas A&M does cause the conference to lose some of the traditional rivalries college football fans have come to know and love, but the Cougars will have a chance to carve their niche in the conference's history. Kansas is the cornerstone of Big 12 basketball, but it has been hard for any other teams to remain dominant over an extended period of time. Texas and Oklahoma will have to play nice with the new leadership in the conference office for this conference to survive past 2014. -- CP
6. BIG EAST (FOOTBALL RANK: 6, BASKETBALL RANK: 3) - Just as the SEC hangs near the top of our power rankings because of football, the Big East lives down below because its football side is not only dismal, it’s on the verge of barely qualifying as a major-conference worthy. Plenty would argue that’s already the case. And with Syracuse and Pitt now gone, in addition to the fact we’re envisioning UConn bolting for the ACC any time now, the basketball product takes a tremendous hit.
While the Big 12 and the Big East really seemed to wobble for a week or so there, the possibility of both leagues collapsing into each other becoming more likely until the Pac-12 stopped that, we rank the Big East lower than the Big 12 based off football alone. Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman talked about with me on the podcast Wednesday, and we discussed when the Big East will eventually come to accept that it’s not a football league, it’s never been a football league, and it’s never going to be one. And no matter how good your basketball schools are, if you can’t even look worthwhile compared to the rest of the big boys, then you probably shouldn’t even be at the table. -- MN
Photos: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: September 22, 2011 1:11 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 1:21 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Jamie Dixon isn't worried.
Those who say that Pittsburgh will have difficulty moving from the Big East to the ACC need a dose of reality.
As long as Dixon doesn't bolt back to the west coast - which doesn't appear likely - the Panthers will still compete for league titles.
Yes, even in the ACC.
Pittsburgh was able to do it against the likes of Syracuse, UConn and Louisville, finishing first or second in the league in four of the past five seasons.
The Panthers will be able to do the same against North Carolina and Duke.
In case people haven't noticed, Dixon can coach a little bit - and he'll continue to get players.
"A lot of people are making too much of how it's going to effect our recruiting," Dixon said. "We haven't gotten guys from New York in two years."
J.J. Moore is the lone player out of New York that Pittsburgh has gotten in the Class of 2010, 2011 and thus far in 2012.
Let's face it: Khem Birch would have come to Pittsburgh whether the Panthers were in the Big East or ACC. Same can be said for Dixon's two 2012 commitments - New Zealand big man Steven Adams and DeMatha point guard James Robinson.
And as long as the Big East tournament remains in New York, Dixon and his staff will be able to sell the opportunity to play in Cameron and Chapel Hill - as well as the chance to play in New York.
That's what I like to call a win-win.
Dixon's already proven he can coach - and he wins largely with under-the-radar, chip-on-their-shoulder players.
He'll play the same somewhat soft out-of-league schedule he always does - and then the Panthers will in the mix for the ACC crown - as has been the case in the Big East for four of the past five seasons.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: September 22, 2011 12:25 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 12:36 pm
By Jeff Goodman
If Mike Brey has a vote, he'd like to remain in the Big East.
"We've got an identity and we've worked hard to be a presence in this league," Notre Dame's men's basketball coach told CBSSports.com earlier this week.
"The Big East has been really good for our basketball program," he added.
Notre Dame is coming off a 27-7 season and a 14-4 mark in the league, just a game from winning the regular-season title. In 11 years, Brey has won 238 games and has gone to the NCAA tournament seven times.
Brey also said he doesn't want the Big East to lose New York City and Madison Square Garden as the site of the league tournament.
"We've got to find a way to keep the Garden," Brey said.
Brey is concerned about the program's other sports if the league opted to go in the direction of becoming a league of non-football schools (except for Notre Dame, which remains an independent).
"Our other sports play at such a high level, we need the right competition for them," Brey said. "That's a big, big factor."
But Brey is optimistic it'll work out.
"I'm not sure exactly what's going to happen, but my preference is to stay in the Big East," he said. "We've finally got an identity."
Posted on: September 22, 2011 11:40 am
Edited on: September 22, 2011 1:23 pm
By Matt Norlander
The rattle and hum of conference realignment hasn’t fully died off, but we are seeing promising signs of a halt. At least for the short-term. With that in mind, we’ve taken poetic liberty here at CBSSports.com and projected out the six –- that’s right, we’ve still got six -– major conferences in a form we believe they can or will coagulate to.
We want make the most of this team-juggling imbroglio by ranking the six big leagues, best to worst, purely from a hoops perspective. (Quick, someone say “footprint” and “money grab” again!)
So, here’s the deal. By our best guess, no conferences are doomed … for now. We have done some expanding here, some shrinking there, and in the Big East, we’ve gone ahead and completely jumbled up its arrangement. Here are our projections for further conference realignment once this current wave of transition is complete.
With that, we’ve got six conferences ranging in size from 12 to 16 programs. So, which is strongest? Deepest? Most top-heavy? Let’s take a look. You absolutely should overreact and get bent out of shape because over this, of course. I’m ranking the figmental leagues by putting value on NCAA tournament appearances, Final Fours made and national titles won in the past 20 years. Why? Because those are the things that get coaches fired. Those are the metrics used to determine which programs are great; are good; are average; are sub-par; are DePaul.
The vital stats from the past 20 seasons is a large enough data set to justify rankings and broad program statistical evaluations. Also, I have ignored the NCAA’s toothless vacated-seasons penalties and counted all tournament and Final Four appearances from that time period.
As for my somewhat-subjective “top-tier” qualification, I’ll simply say, if a program is constantly bringing in four- and five star recruits; if it’s winning national titles or reaching Final Fours; if it’s making the majority of NCAA tournaments the past two decades, it’s top-tier.
1) ACC. Eleven national titles, 24 Final Fours, 151 tourney appearances (10.8 per team). Five top-tier programs.
Unequivocally becomes the best conference in basketball with its new neighbors. No other conference even comes close in Final Fours the past two decades. The addition of Syracuse and UConn gives the ACC five of the top 10 programs in the nation when those programs are performing at their apex. That alone makes the conference the best, let alone untouchable at the top -- in the history of the sport. Pittsburgh is also a riser, and arguably a top-20 program right now.
There is a precipitous drop beyond Wake, Georgia Tech and Pitt, though. In researching this, I was shocked to discover how infrequently N.C. State and Virginia Tech had made the Big Dance since the ’91-92 season. Then again, every league needs little brothers.
2) Big Ten. One national title, 13 Final Fours, 116 tourney appearances (9.7 per team). Four top-tier programs.
I’m going with the Big Ten at No. 2 because its dense in quality, has a sleeping national giant in Indiana, and has a higher teams-in-tournament average than those below it. Perhaps without coincidence, it has the second-highest number of top-tier teams. Don’t consider Big Ten upper-echelon when it comes to basketball? Time to reevaluate.
What really keeps the Big Ten above everyone else: the lack of fat. Yeah, the bottom three or four teams aren’t cutting-edge, but no conference can find that in its cellar. The absence of stale add-ons keeps this league stronger.
3) Big East. No national titles, six Final Fours, 108 tourney appearances (6.8 per team). Two top-tier programs.
The Big East takes a massive hit by losing Syracuse, Connecticut and Pittsburgh. But I'm still only moving it from first -- where it stands today -- down to third. Even if this conference is on shaky ground and doomed to one day part with its affiliation in football, Big East basketball is never dying. And it's always going to be around fertile recruiting beds. The league will be relevant so long as it continues to survive, and I think it always will.
The lack of a national title the past two decades is dampening, though. Just goes to show you how vital Syracuse, Pitt and UConn were/are to the Big East. Still, everyone from Louisville to West Virginia to Villanova is nationally relevant right now (and Cincinnati's been to 15 tourneys the past 20 years). These are programs with Final Four runs in them nearly each year. The Big East’s problem is all the garbage covering the floor. Providence, Seton Hall, Central Florida, South Florida, TCU, DePaul: these are all non-factors and really bring the cache of the league down. Bigger is most certainly not better, but may be necessary for the sake of survival.
4) Pac-12. Two national titles, nine Final Fours, 102 tourney appearances (8.5 per team). Three top-tier programs.
UCLA and Arizona carried along the Pac-10 for years. Had Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State come ot the conference, then it's third-best league, no question. But this is still a group that's been lousy as of late, one that's failed to populate the NCAA tournament in recent years. The Pac-12 has potential, especially with Larry Scott as commish, to thrive. But from a basketball perspective, both in product and recruiting, the league doesn't have as much to work with.
It can pass the Big East in the coming years if one or two teams outside UCLA and Arizona really makes a run of it. Until then, the mediocrity as of late keeps it in the bottom half.
5) Big 12. One national title, seven Final Fours, 109 tourney appearances (10.9 per team). Two top-tier teams.
A tourney-per-team ratio higher than even the ACC! But that's what you get when you're league only has 10 teams, and one of those teams is a top-three all-time program. And that's why the Big 12 has to be here. There's too much instability. Yes, Kansas is an amazing program. Texas is certainly a powerhouse, too. Baylor and Kansas State are chic right now, and perhaps those two coaches can build legacies at schools that had none in regard to good basketball prior to their arrival. But, overall, the Big 12 sits on topsoil, not the granite and rock of the earth. And when you get down to it, this league's size hurts it, makes it susceptible.
6) SEC. Five national titles, 13 Final Fours, 109 tourney appearances (7.8 per team). Two top-tier teams.
The SEC gets the lowest ranking and least respect because, inversely, they’re so much interest in football. Loving two women at once is nearly as impossible as having dominant, tradition-laden, nationally appealing football and basketball teams across the board. The SEC has put its stake in football. It’s more than OK with that decision.
But from a basketball standpoint, there’s not a lot of inspiration. Arkansas isn’t half the program it should be … and it’s third here. What's that say? It says exactly what you know: the league will always be inferior, long-term, even if it houses arguably the best program in the history of the sport. Virginia Tech and Texas A&M as hoops additions don't bring much. In fact, they further dilute the product in many ways. The Hokies have only made two NCAA tournaments the past 20 years, and A&M is one of the most boring TV products major college hoops has to offer. Take Kentucky away, and I can’t even include this conference with the rest above it. The SEC's deal with the devil is football. Again, it's a deal they gladly live with every day.Photo: AP
Posted on: September 21, 2011 12:56 pm
By Matt Norlander
The Pac-12 is staying put, and that means there's a whole lot of confusion going on. Naturally, conversation must be had, so Goodman and Parrish hopped on the podcast with me today. Topics addressed:
Posted on: September 21, 2011 9:05 am
Edited on: September 21, 2011 9:07 am
By Jeff Goodman
The Pac-12 may have just saved the Big 12.
League commissioner Larry Scott announced late last night that the Pac-12 would remain a 12-team conference.
"While we have great respect for all of the institutions that have contacted us, and certain expansion proposals were financially attractive, we have a strong conference structure and culture of equality that we are committed to preserve," Scott said in a statement. "With new landmark TV agreements and plans to launch our innovative television networks, we are going to focus solely on these great assets, our strong heritage and the bright future in front of us."
There was a possibility that Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech were headed from the Big 12 to the Pac-12, which would have triggered wholesale changes on the conference landscape. That would have left the Big 12 extremely vulnerable with just Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Baylor and Iowa State.
Certainly, Texas and its new Longhorn Network had something to do with the fact that the Pac-12 opted against expansion. The league was adamant that the revenue would be split equally.
However, this decision by the Pac-12 doesn't mean this game of league musical chairs is over. They'll be more maneuvering, whether it be the ACC and Big East adding a couple more teams, the SEC grabbing one or even the Pac-12 - down the road - opting to expand.
But it's no longer complete mayhem.
The Pac-12 is still a league on solid footing without the four schools under consideration. Obviously, Texas would have heightened its profile - but the financial risk didn't outweigh the reward.
The Big 12 has nine members after Nebraska and Colorado already left and Texas A&M is headed to the SEC. It will likely try and pluck another school in order to get to 10.
The Big East would then likely stay together as a football-basketball league despite the impending losses of Pittsburgh and Syracuse. The conference sits at 15 schools with the addition of TCU, but there's still a possibility that a couple of its members - UConn and Rutgers being the prime candidates - go elsewhere.
So, while there's still movement on the horizon, the Pac-12's decision brought a little clarity to an arena in which it's clearly needed.
Posted on: September 20, 2011 11:00 am
By Matt Norlander
I don’t know if John Marinatto really knows what he’s doing in running the Big East, but at least I know the man can trash talk.
In discussing the conference’s future with Pete Thamel of the New York Times, Marinatto let off this frustrated grenade blast toward ACC commissioner John Swofford.
“We have a track record of coming out stronger than we did before,” Marinatto said, referring the A.C.C.’s raid of three Big East teams in 2003. “We may even hold the opening round of our basketball tournament in Greensboro,” a frequent site of the A.C.C. tournament, he said in jest.Look at Marinatto showing some cojones! We’re now in an era of college sports that’s occupied by stodgy suits intently focused on crafting vanilla press releasing and doling out patronizing quotes left and right. So to see Marinatto let some steam off like that, it doesn’t get much more genuine or acidic. This shot at the ACC was inspired because Swofford opined on the possibility of the ACC one day playing its postseason tournament at the Garden during Sunday’s news teleconference, when Syracuse and Pitt were officially declared accepted members of the ACC.
The Big East cherishes the building; it’s played its tournament there for the past 28 years -- all but three years of its existence. Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo has also gotten in on the ACC-at-MSG talk as of late.
Take our teams but not our party house, the Big East says. Understandable, but also interesting to see the fight that could develop around Madison Square Garden’s availability in early March each year. As it stands, the Big East is inked to play its postseason bracket out in the Garden through 2016. The ACC is contracted in Greensboro until 2015.
By the way, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn opens a year from now. Another option for either conference in a spanking-new building surrounded by the finest hipsters the world has to offer.
The other outspoken voice -- perhaps the most outspoken in this melodrama of movement -- is former Big East commish Mike Tranghese.
Tranghese was far more vocal in his displeasure with Swofford’s and DeFilippo’s mentioning playing in the Garden, especially because the comments came immediately after the death of Dave Gavitt, the Big East’s founder.Marinatto also wants to make schools who choose to leave linger as long as possible. That means, as of now, Syracuse and Pittsburgh will need to abide by the 27-month waiting period before they can officially leave for the ACC. This seems unlikely to happen, as the Big East, should it survive (and I believe that it will), will want to get its replacements into the conference as soon as possible.
Can’t have it both ways, so it’s most likely going to be that Syracuse and Pitt play, at most, two more seasons in the league. Could be just one, though. Marinatto also told Thamel the conference has been courted by multiple schools. The Big East and Big 12 are currently doing more than playing footsie; a massive meld of the two leagues is becoming more imminent by the day.
“We may look different, but we will be better,” he told the Times.
Posted on: September 20, 2011 12:11 am
Edited on: September 20, 2011 12:14 am
By Matt Norlander
The saddest and most ironic thing about Kyle Anderson's commitment to UCLA, and not Seton Hall: it came on Talk Like a Pirate Day.
UCLA luring the Jersey native -- a top-five 2012 kid -- is a huge coup for Ben Howland. We predicted it was likely to happen, and indeed it did. A day before Anderson planned on announcing, to boot. The 6-8 St. Anthony’s point forward announced his decision on Twitter Monday night. We’ll get into what Anderson’s verbal commitment to UCLA means for that program and for Howland in the morning.
Tonight, can we talk about Seton Hall for a few? We don’t get a chance to do that much on the blog, but Kevin Willard missing out on Anderson is just as big for the Pirates as landing him was for the Bruins. Willard chased Anderson with all he had. Every game he and his staff could be at, they were there. I talked with Willard this summer at the Peach Jam during one of Anderson’s games. Normally, coaches casually make conversation and take their eyes off the court. Not Willard, at least not on that day. He was fixated on an AAU blowout like a 5-year-old waiting to blow out his birthday candles.
He put everything he had into getting Anderson in white and royal blue. The Pirates had never been so close, literally, to such a highly touted prospect. Anderson, who is probably the most dynamic player in this class, lives life a swift bike ride from SHU campus. And Willard couldn’t reel him. It’s not Willard’s fault; Anderson was courted by plenty of big names, and Seton Hall hasn’t had cache for huge recruits in well over a decade.
But it’s not going well for the Pirates right now, and that’s the grand and obvious observation. SHU is watching conference brethren bolt from the league like the cops just showed up at an underage party with liquor bottles all over the lawn. Who knows if the Big East even exists in five years. We know it won’t exist in the way it so briefly did for the past seven years, when it became the most powerful league in the history of college basketball.
Now Seton Hall is without a positive signal, an identity, heading forward. Borzello has mentioned the next three targets for the Pirates, two of whom they really need to convince to come to campus. The New York-area trio of Daniel Dingle, Kareem Canty and Jevon Thomas are now next on the list. Dingle is being considered by Rutgers, Dayton, Auburn and UMass. Canty has Xavier, Virginia and Florida State interested. Thomas is the lowest-ranked, and smallest, of the three.
These are the guys the future of Seton Hall’s program is relying upon. It’s unfortunate, but Willard gambled because he had to. You’ve got someone that good that close, you have to chase him with everything you’ve got. It’s an impossible situation for a coach like Willard at a school like Seton Hall. In many ways, and he’d never admit this publicly, Willard probably wishes Anderson lived a few hours rather than a few minutes away. That way, there’s no pressure to bring him in and sacrifice going after other recruits.
But now, with no Anderson and no 20-win season since 2004, Seton Hall looks about as hindered as any program could be in what’s currently becoming a pretty hindered, maligned conference.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE