Playing with Data

Personal Views Expressed in Data

The Death of an Athletic Conference

Normally this blog is about weather topics. Tonight, I deviate…

In less than 24 hours, I believe we will be talking about the death of the Big-12 athletic conference. Rumors are flying tonight that the University of Oklahoma, the University of Texas, Oklahoma State University, and Texas Tech University will all be joining the PAC-16, with announcements on Monday. This undoubtedly was hurried by the announcement earlier this weekend that Syracuse University and Pittsburgh University had applied to join the ACC. This significantly weakens the football aspect of the Big East conference. Rumors are also flying tonight that the University of Connecticut is “aggressively” seeking membership in the ACC; I can only assume that Rutgers is doing the same. This will bring the ACC and the PAC-12 to 16 teams.

With two superconferences, I would expect to see the SEC expand. With Texas A&M already poised to join the SEC, leaving 13 teams, I would think that the SEC will seek to add Missouri (for television markets) as the 14th team. However, Missouri would much rather be in the Big-10 (for academic reasons), and if Notre Dame joins the Big-10 as the 13th team, Missouri might gain access as the 14th team. If Notre Dame doesn’t join the Big-10, I’d expect to see Missouri eventually join the SEC. With Baylor and Iowa State already making overtures to the Big East, I’d expect to see the remaining Big-12 and Big East schools align in a hastily arranged marriage for the sake of survival.

I know everyone will want to lay the blame of this round of conference realignment at the feet of the University of Texas and the Longhorn Network, but I think this is a bit short-sighted. Yes, this is what prompted Texas A&M to seek membership in the SEC, but that was as far as it would have gone if not for the public comments of the University of Oklahoma’s president, David Boren. His public comments about actively considering opportunities elsewhere, and suggestions of wanting to look west, made the rest of the collegiate landscape nervous. Much as the talk of the Big-12 disbanding caused Colorado to jump the Big-12 ship (prematurely) before being left behind last year, I believe that when all is said and done, comments made by President Boren set this entire cascade in motion. I hope I’m wrong, but it certainly doesn’t sound that way tonight.