MIZZOUEXPANSIONAPALOOZA™ 2011: Lots Of Moving Pieces

So in the name of multi-purpose writing, my latest MIZZOUEXPANSIONAPALOOZA™ piece is up, with a different title, at the mothership. I'll cut, splice, etc., here, amongst hundreds of links, but do be sure to go over and give the full one a read. As Gabe's piece below suggests, things are probably going to work out just fine for Mizzou, but the "SEC picks WVU, stops at 14, and the Big Ten doesn't expand" scenario is at least on the table. We'll see.

The Effect: Honestly, this doesn't directly affect the Big 12 simply because they're a little busy right now trying to somehow keep Oklahoma (and potentially Texas) from bolting.

What Happens Next? If the conference survives this week's Oklahoma and Texas regent meetings (and it probably won't), this move could honestly mean good things for the constantly embattled Big 12 because, quite simply, some expansion candidates were just made available. If the Rutgers, Connecticut and potentially West Virginia depart, then technically that opens the door for the Big 12 to move in on programs like Louisville, Cincinnati and TCU, thereby surviving once again in unlikely fashion.

In other words, we will soon get to find out just how far out the door Oklahoma and Texas really are. Is the Big 12 dead to Oklahoma, or just mostly dead? OU president David Boren seemed to have soured on the conference when they both lost Texas A&M and realized they had no viable replacement/expansion candidates. But adding some combination of the three above schools and BYU would be attractive. Is it too late?

Pitt And Syracuse To The ACC

What Does The ACC Do Next?

The Effect: This one is obvious. Anytime we run through the "realignment Armageddon" scenarios, it plays out in virtually the same way: the Big 12 dies, the SEC, Pac-XX and Big Ten move to 16 teams, yadda yadda yadda, the ACC and Big East cannibalize themselves, and voila! Four 16-team conferences! As I've mentioned before, the math in that scenario does not work out in any clean fashion, but don't tell that to the ACC, who went ahead and skipped a few steps. Now, they bring into the fold a solid Pittsburgh team and a Syracuse program that has been historically successful and has improved over the last couple of seasons. And they have taken a few huge steps toward getting their "Best basketball conference" title back. Great move.

I must say, I very much admire all the players involved in this move, at least in terms of secrecy. We dealt with months of Big Ten expansion speculation. We dealt with months of A&M-to-the-SEC drama; the rumor would come, then go, then come, then go again. But this development went from rumor to fact in less than 24 hours. Players involved kept this so quiet that supposedly Big East commissioner John Marinatto didn't even know about it until it was all but official.

What Happens Next? Evidently there could be more Big East theft on the horizon. UConn wants in as well (can you blame them?), and supposedly Rutgers has been on the phone with both the ACC and Big Ten. West Virginia has gone into full 'self-interest' mode, which means they might be trying to get in the door, too. And that says nothing of last week's "Might Texas go east instead of west?" rumors. With the ACC's successful ability to move into secrecy mode, we probably won't know what's happening here until it's happening, but one thing is pretty clear: they're probably going to 16 teams at some point, and chances are, they'll be pecking away at the Big East again when they do.

And What's About To Happen Out West? And What The Hell Is Up With Texas?

  • Austin American-Statesman: Sources: Plan could bring UT, three others from Big 12 to a Longhorn Network-friendly Pac-12
  • Pacific Takes: Pac-12 Expansion: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech About To Join The Conference?
  • New York Times: A Superconference? Obstacles Remain for the Pac-12
  • Mercury News: Pac-12 Expansion: The latest on Texas, revenue sharing and 16-team division alignment
  • Tulsa World: Pickens: OSU is smart and won't be left 'high and dry' in conference realignment
  • San Antonio Express-News: Report: UT could be headed to Pac-12
  • CBS Sports: Report: Texas, others closer to forming Pac-16
  • Addicted to Quack: Pac-12 cannot allow Texas into the conference on anything less than our terms. We have too much to lose otherwise.

The Effect: I know Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott says he doesn't want to expand, and I know that some of the conference's university presidents probably mean it. But still, instability helps this conference as much as any other, and if both the Big East and the Big 12 are suddenly in mortal danger, then Scott and company will probably swoop in to benefit from it.

What Happens Next? Oklahoma and Texas decide what they are going to do, basically. This conference is, and will continue to be, as aggressive as any other, but they are geographically limited, and if OU and/or UT don't come aboard, there really is no reason for them to expand. If Oklahoma does indeed head west, then this will probably be the first conference to reach 16 teams. Oklahoma State will go wherever their Bedlam rivals go (nice arrangement, eh, Cowboys?), so that's 14. Then, they can go one of three ways: 1) Bring in Texas and, presumably, Texas Tech, 2) Bring in some combination of Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Texas Tech if Texas is a no-go, or 3) Stop at 14.

There are over 2,000 words in this column, and as with most realignment analysis, there is strong reason to think that every single one of them will be rendered moot by a move nobody saw coming. It is the way of realignment. I am not going to even pretend to know what is about to happen, but this is roughly where I think we stand right now.

What's This Mean For The Big Ten?

The Effect: Again, something very good and something very bad happened as it pertains to the Big Ten. The "Notre Dame panics" scenario has once again come into play, but that could be offset by the fact that a) the ACC is now a lot more attractive an option if the Irish do decide to jump (aside from that whole "They're nowhere near the Atlantic Coast" thing; then again, Syracuse and Pittsburgh are not exactly hopping sea ports themselves), and b) the ACC just took two of their "If we ever do expand further..." candidates.

What Happens Next? We know one thing: Jim Delany and company are probably not going to panic. I actually somewhat believe it when they say they are satisfied at 12 teams. But if the ACC, SEC and Pac-XX are all going to have 14-16 soon, the need to play a larger role in the marketplace may get rather strong. And honestly, their window of play with some realistic, worthwhile candidates could close soon.

What Do We Know About The SEC?

  • PowerMizzou: Mizzou's options are many, certainties are few
  • CBS Sports: West Virginia statement doesn't mention Big East

The Effect: As with the Big Ten, the SEC was impacted by the ACC's move simply because it potentially shrank the applicant pool.

What Happens Next? We know that both West Virginia and Missouri are available to become Team No. 14; the SEC could add one of those two and call it a day. But if they want to add both, then who becomes No. 16? If the "Gentlemen's Agreement" is indeed a real thing, then the SEC's options were already somewhat limited. But if it wasn't, and Florida State or Clemson were a possibility, well, they are a bit less of a possibility now, as are programs like Maryland and N.C. State. So if ACC programs are off the table, as are Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, then that leaves ... who, exactly? Kansas? If there isn't an obvious No. 16, then they probably won't go to 15; WVU could be quickly attempting to glom onto the ACC, and Mizzou could be praying that the Big Ten actually looks in their direction for once.

Ah, Old Times

This Isn't Very Fun

  • Smart Football: Things that are uninteresting and interesting about conference realignment
  • The Trib: Let's just get this over with
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