September 29, 2016

REALIGNMAGEDDON: Death of the Big XII, Dawn of the Superconferences?

In light of THIS WELL-INFORMED ARTICLE from SI's Campus Rush writer extraordinaire Pete Thamel, my guess is that the Big XII is headed for a future where Texas and Oklahoma bolt (to the ACC and the SEC, respectively) and the conference loses its 'Power-5' status, triggering the dawning of four 16-team superconferences and the 64 schools seceding from the NCAA to form their own semi-pro college sports league.

Sounds far-fetched, right?  Well, don't bet against it.

I'm a bit of long-time student of REALIGNMAGEDDON, and I think it's going to come to this:

Boston CollegeIllinoisAlabamaArizona
ClemsonIndianaArkansasArizona State
Florida StateKansasFloridaCalifornia
Georgia TechMarylandGeorgiaColorado
LouisvilleMichiganKentuckyColorado State
MiamiMichigan StateLSUHouston
NC StateMinnesotaMississippi StOregon
North CarolinaNebraskaMissouriOregon State
Notre DameNorthwesternOklahomaStanford
PittsburghOhio StateOklahoma StateTCU
SyracusePenn StateOle MissUCLA
TexasPurdueSouth CarolinaUSC
Virginia TechWest VirginiaTexas A&MWashington
Wake ForestWisconsinVanderbiltWashington St


Notre Dame to the ACC -- They're left out in the cold unless they join a conference, and the only conference they'll join is the ACC.

Texas to the ACC -- Thamel puts it best: "Texas has all the cards here and would be courted by any league. Institutionally, the school has shown little desire to go to the SEC. (Why join Texas A&M?) The Big Ten could be a fit, as would the ACC and Pac-12. The ACC would likely offer the smoothest transition for the Longhorn Network, as ESPN owns all of the ACC's content and the easiest solution for everyone would be to fold LHN, a partnership between ESPN and Texas, into the ACC Network."

Kansas to the Big Ten -- AAU membership has its privileges, plus KU is a geographic fit (for all that matters, which isn't much) and an inventory generator for the BTN thanks to Jayhawks hoops.  This isn't a slam dunk, but I think Kansas is more attractive than the alternatives (Cincy, UConn, Iowa State, Kansas State, etc.)

West Virginia to the Big Ten -- Just a shot in the dark here.  Feels like it could be an okay fit.

Oklahoma and OK State to the SEC -- Big brother and little brother won't/can't be separated, and T. Boone Pickens' money helps grease the gears.  A very tidy acquisition for the SEC.

BYU to the Pac-16 -- They rejected BYU once before, but I can't resist the though that the Cougars deserve a seat at the big boys' table, just on the sheer strength of the size of their fanbase.

Colorado State to the Pac-16 -- This is probably my biggest reach of all, but I really do believe this is an up-and-coming athletic department, worthy of eventual "power" status.

Houston to the Pac-16 -- They have leapfrogged UConn and Cincinnati atop the G5 pecking order at just exactly the right time.

TCU to the Pac-16 -- Thamel: "It has arguably positioned itself as the third-most attractive program in the Big 12 in a short period of time."

Left Out in the Cold
Air Force
Boise State
Iowa State
Kansas State
New Mexico
San Diego State
Texas Tech


  1. I don't see Baylor getting dropped for Colorado State (or even possibly Houston). Baylor spent the first two years of the playoff knocking on the door of getting in, and has a gorgeous new stadium. Colorado State may be on its way, but Baylor is more than there. Houston is there too, but can it be consistently there? Probably, but why take that risk over Baylor?

  2. I have to think the recent scandals at Baylor will be at play if this moves as quickly as it looks like it could. All signs point to this shift coming very soon (6-12 months), at least the Big 12 part. Baylor's got a lot of stink on it. And will the football program continue to be successful moving forward? Probably, but there's risk.

  3. 2016 Baylor = 1987 SMU. I really don't see the Baylor program recovering within the next 20 years.

    While Houston's timing is perfect, Baylor's timing is... whatever the opposite of perfect is.

  4. Not sure the politics work on this one. In the ACC, really wonder if the UNC/Greensboro folks wanting Texas's influence. In the B12, hard to imagine Baylor getting left out, but maybe the political landscape there has changed (I don't know). Also very hard to imagine Cal, Stanford, etc. accepting BYU. And WVU seems like a big reach to a conference that cares about AAU status.

    Texas's desire to independently monetize it's brand puts the B12 in jeopardy. Beyond that, things seem very stable to me.

    Also, conferences have struggled to put a cohesive product on the field ever since going to 12. And that gets worse in a 16-team environment. It would make more sense to have multiple conferences join forces to collectively negotiate contracts, but maintain separate brands. Imagine if the ACC and B12 (including Texas) "merged" at a "holding company" type level, but branded independently to fans. You'd get whatever you were trying to get from ESPN without blowing up whatever value exists in the B12 as a conference (or TTU, individually, which you've relegated to midmajor status).