Loyal Cougars

The Next Round of Conference Realignment: Part 3

In this 3-part series, Troy Adams looks at the current stability of the Power 5 conferences, the issues most likely to trigger the next round of conference realignment, and which teams and conferences are most likely to make a change. Today’s Part 3 focuses on which teams will be involved in the next round of conference realignment as the expansion dominoes fall. If you missed Part 1, it can be found here. You can read Part 2 here.

Back to the B1G, which two teams will it add?

In Friday’s Part 2, I predicted that the Big Ten will add two new teams before its new media contract begins in 2017. Speculation alert – I have no clue what will happen.  But without any media rights complications, the B1G could add any team from the SEC or any Independent today. Assuming that the B1G stuck to its criteria of high academic standards and geographic proximity, the only SEC teams that would qualify are Missouri and maybe Vanderbilt. However with a projected B1G media deal of $45 million per school, it is arguable whether Vanderbilt would add adequate value. Further, since independent Notre Dame has rebuffed multiple overtures from the B1G and has instead nestled up to the ACC, this leaves only BYU, which does have high academic standards but will likely never be an AAU school (13 of 14 current B1G members belong to this prestigious academic organization).

So is there anyone else? The B1G brass have shown in the Maryland/ACC case that they really don’t care about exit agreements between universities and other conferences.  Since the B1G media deal will likely be worth at least 10-15 million dollars more per school than the Big 12 and ACC, it is possible that schools from these conferences may consider an early exit.  In this case, the two best choices given the B1G criteria are Kansas from the B12 and Virginia from the ACC. While neither would add much football value to media negotiations, neither did Maryland or Rutgers, and that didn’t stop the B1G from adding them during the last round of musical chairs.

If the B1G poaches a B12 team, what happens next?

Blogger Jonathon Crowl states that inaction by the B12 will cause its own damage, building upon the losses incurred under Beebe.2  I agree. The B12 is guilty of assuming that it is “un-poachable” and as a consequence, the conference has taken no proactive steps. I believe this will ultimately spell the death of the B12 as we know it.

If the B1G poaches even one B12 team, it will be over for the B12. What happens next is anybody’s guess. For example, in the mildly possible scenario that has Missouri moving to the B1G, the SEC may then move to take Texas, OU, and OSU to become a 16-team league. If the ACC applied the Notre Dame modification (see Part 2) to become a 16-team league with Notre Dame; just like that, there would be three 16-team leagues.  Can you see where this is going?

How Would The P12 Respond?

Most likely, the P12 would do nothing. There could be a lot of leftovers laying around in B12 country (ISU, KSU, TCU, Tech, Baylor, and even WVU); but if the P12 said “No” to OU, I can’t see the P12 adding any of these teams.

The best scenario for the post-realignment casualties is to rise from the ashes and re-build.  That would most likely mean the addition of enough universities to get back to 12 (approximately 6 additional schools). It is way too early to think about the composition of a rebuilt B12 but there are some obvious candidates that come to mind. Everyone will have their own list. However, what I see happening the most clearly is that the remaining four Power 5 conferences will quickly close ranks and push a newly incarnated B12 to the back of the bus along with the AAC, MWC, C-USA, MAC, and Sunbelt.


The next round of realignment could begin as early as this year if the B1G indeed plans to add two teams.  The B1G is the only Power 5 conference that would add a team from the B12 at this point. If it does, look for the SEC to swoop in and grab as many as three B12 teams. The P12 will be interested in any Power 5 conference developments but given the already huge geography of the P12, it will likely stand pat with 12 teams. If the B12 is indeed shaken up, and I believe it eventually will be, there exists the possibility of a new conference.


  1. Mark Steele

    April 27, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    As a BYU fan, shoot me now.if the scenario you outline is likely to happen.

  2. John Roberts

    April 28, 2015 at 12:11 am

    So, BYU will still end up on the outside looking in.

  3. Thor

    April 28, 2015 at 9:14 am

    One thing BYU has to offer, simply by virtue of geography, is a western time zone, which is valuable for mid-western and eastern conferences, because it gives them one more late-hour time slot for kickoff, which means more potential TV revenue. I don’t know if it’s enough to make them attractive to the B1G (I highly doubt it, since they’re so far away), but at this point, I’m grabbing on to any hope I can find that BYU will end up in a good league and not on the outside. Joining forces with the leftovers of a poached Big 12 is not what any of us are hoping for.

  4. Dr. Nick

    April 28, 2015 at 10:23 am

    BYU is never getting in to the B1G or Pac-12 for academic reasons. Universities are sorted into what’s known as Carnegie Classifications. The “top” classification is RU/VH (Research University – Very High Research Activity, previously called R1). BYU is classified as the next step down or RU/H. Every single member of both the Big Ten and Pac-12 is classified RU/VH. The B1G and Pac-12 will never add a university that is not a large research university.

    The ACC and SEC, however, already have a number of non-RU/VH schools (ACC: Boston College, Clemson, Syracuse, Wake Forest; SEC: Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi), while 6 out of 10 Big 12 schools are not classified RU/VH (Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech, West Virginia). On top of that, the religious affiliation thing doesn’t sit well in the extremely secular world of academia. The B1G, Pac-12, and SEC are all made exclusively of public or secular private schools, while the ACC and Big 12 seem to be more comfortable with religious affiliation (Boston College, Notre Dame, Wake Forest, Baylor, and TCU).

    This stuff matters because at the end of the day we are still talking about universities. University presidents may be motivated by $$$ but they are still academics. Research classification and religious affiliation make BYU fundamentally incompatible with the Pac-12 and B1G, geography kills any dreams of the SEC or ACC, so it’s Big 12 or Bust for BYU.

    • Nate Kennedy

      April 28, 2015 at 10:47 am

      I don’t think religious affiliation matters as much as the academic reasons. If religious affiliation mattered that much the BIG would not be hot after Notre Dame. Money talks above all else, but I do believe you are right, it is Big 12 or bust for BYU at this point.

      • Dr. Nick

        April 28, 2015 at 11:00 am

        Nate, I think you are right – Notre Dame may be the one case where money trumps religious affiliation. Notre Dame’s historical success and huge fan base make it a huge cash cow. But I have to wonder if religion didn’t factor into university’s decision to join the ACC, which already had another prominent Catholic university. And religion certainly played an issue in the Big Ten – Notre Dame relationship throughout the 20th Century.

        However for every religious school not named Notre Dame, religious affiliation would be a major roadblock to joining the Pac-12 or B1G.

      • Dr. Nick

        April 28, 2015 at 11:02 am

        And of course Notre Dame is classified as RU/VH, so the academic side of things would line up very well with the rest of the B1G (although they are not an AAU member, but again the money might be enough to overcome that concern too).

  5. James Guinn Anderson

    April 28, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Its NOT about academics, location, etc., its ALL about the MONEY. I lived and worked for the Kansas State Dept. of Education for many years, and the BIG schools did not want the Wichita States of the World to be in the Big 12. They loose money, when they have to share with other schools…The more schools, the less of the POT they get from the STATE. Think about it. Each state gets so much money to share with the schools in the state…If you add more schools to the “pot”, there is less to go around…

  6. Tom

    April 28, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    I realize I may be thinking too simplistically, but what if there were 4 20 team conferences with 2 ten team divisions. Current conferences could stake their claim on either a conference or division. Divisions would be geographically determined to cut down on travel expenses, etc. Each team would then have 9 division games picking up 3 non-conference games. Division winners would play in conference championships and then conference champions would move on to the playoffs, essentially creating an 8 team playoff. Makes sense to me, but I’m sure logic and sensibility were never intended to be part of this conversation.

  7. Texas Fight!

    April 28, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    Texas, OU and OSU to the SEC? Have you paid no attention to realignment during the past 25 years?

    #1 UT has refused to join the SEC many times and has been very public about having no interest in the SEC. Conclusion: UT will never join the SEC.

    #2 In two previous dalliances with moving to the PAC, OU and OSU made it clear they are a package deal…and it’s not forced by politics. Both OU and OSU cooperate to put the financial interests of the State of Oklahoma first. Conclusion: OU and OSU are a package.

    #3 OU isn’t going anywhere without UT.

    #4 UT has made it clear it isn’t going anywhere without Texas Tech. Conclusion: UT and TTU are a package.

    The “Texoma 4” are natural and mutual rivals (too varying degrees) and their proximity is both convenient and very economical for Olympic sports. Your presumptions are pure speculation.