Big 12 Looking Into Alliance With ACC (Rather Than Expansion)?

Is There Any Chance a Big 12/ACC Alliance Happens?

Is There Any Chance a Big 12/ACC Alliance Happens?

Friday afternoon saw plenty of conference realignment talk after the Austin Statesman reported that the Big 12 was looking into an alliance with the ACC, and possibly two other leagues. The basics of said “alliance” would revolve around basketball and football scheduling, plus bowl partnerships and (most importantly) television negotiations.

It goes without saying just how important this could potentially be for the ACC’s long-term success and survival. And according to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, this could even be a move to avoid further conference expansion:

“‘If anything, it’s the opposite,” Bowlsby said. “You can begin to get some advantages without taking on any of the disadvantages (of expansion). It’s one option that allows benefits. It’s kind of like friends with benefits.'”

There’s plenty more details and hypotheticals we could go over here — what it means, how this could potentially work, and even what this has to do with the Big Ten — however, I’ve already done so over at SB Nation’s Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician. So for further information, head on over there. If there’s further movement on this front, I’ll be sure to provide updates here.

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Conference Realignment: Is Big 12 Expansion With Florida State and Clemson Imminent?

Bob Bowlsby's Said the Big 12 Could Expand. But Will They Do So at the Expanse of the ACC?

Bob Bowlsby’s Said the Big 12 Could Expand. But Will They Do So at the Expanse of the ACC?

Just when we thought things could settle down for a little while among the five power conferences and their conference expansion dreams, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby had this to say on Wednesday (via CBS Sports):

“We could be proactive [in conference alignment], I think,”

Simple phrasing that could potentially mean nothing. Or could potentially mean the next dominoes start falling on January 28 and 29 when the league meets in Dallas. Personally (and yes, I understand there’s some bias), I don’t see them adding a team from the ACC. Based on the current legal battle around Maryland‘s $50 million exit fee, the soon-to-be-renegotiated-again TV contract, conference television network talks and four incoming new members, it becomes more difficult to create a compelling case for any school to exit. Further, Bowlsby himself at least hints at an unconventional add, should they decide to expand:

“Look at Maryland and Rutgers. They don’t bring programs that are of the ilk of the others in the Big Ten. The philosophy clearly is: ‘As members of the Big Ten we can grow them.’“

There’s two ways to look at that statement. First: they’re willing to take a flyer on a developing program (Connecticut, Cincinnati?) and allow them to reach their full potential within the constructs of the Big 12. For the ACC, this is obviously the ideal situation for the time being — it keeps its best schools in the fold, which at this point, is the most important goal. But for the long-term, the league loses its top two expansion candidates, should the Big Ten pick off a few more schools (not impossible at all).

The other way you can look at this statement is the one that worries ACC supporters right now. Clemson and Florida State surely don’t need to be “developed” into major programs by joining the Big 12. But neither is necessarily the “ilk” of the current Big 12 schools either. You can make similar statements about nearly every other school in the conference, save maybe Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh (solely based on their respective rivalries with West Virginia). Additionally, it’s an unknown which schools are on the conference’s rumored “quality” expansion list. This short list, supposedly built into their television contract, is supposed to enact automatic increases in per-school payouts when schools are added. I’d assume those names include Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Miami and Notre Dame, with BYU as another possibility.

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Conference Realignment: Would Penn State Have Ever Left the Big Ten?

Could Penn State Ever Leave the Big Ten?

According to Barry Alvarez, Appeasing Penn State Drove This Round of Realignment

Friday, on the three-year anniversary of leaking the news that the Big Ten was looking to add a 12th team, Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez told the school’s athletic board the conference was driven to add a 13th and 14th team — in part — to keep Penn State in the fold.

“Jim (Delaney) felt that someday, if we didn’t have anyone else in that corridor, someday it wouldn’t make sense maybe for Penn State to be in our league,” Alvarez told the board, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “That they would go into a league somewhere on the East Coast. By doing that, it keeps us in the Northeast corridor.”

So is there any truth to this? Was there a threat by the PSU administration to leave? Since the Big Ten’s grant of rights only covers the length of the current television contract, the timing would make sense. And Penn State’s recent issues with the conference have been well documented, too. While we certainly never believed PSU — or any team, for that matter — would truly leave the Big Ten, here’s the sales pitch we advocated for the conference to push to the school back in November:

“We know the Big Ten has it out for you. That fumble call against Nebraska was part of a much larger conspiracy by the league and the NCAA to truly stick it to you in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. They’re going to continue to do so. Oh, and remember when Penn State was able to claim a good chunk of the New York market due to its proximity and affiliation to the B1G? Well that’s gone too, now that Rutgers has joined the conference. Speaking of the Scarlet Knights, we have a proposition for you: trade matchups with them and the Terps at noon for games against FSU, Notre Dame and Miami. We’ll even let you restart your old, bitter rivalries against Syracuse and Pitt. And we’ll let you win games and compete for a national championship. Seriously.”

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ACC Issues Statement of Solidarity; But Does It Mean Anything?

Did the ACC's Statement of Solidarity Actually Mean Anything? Well...

Did the ACC’s Statement of Solidarity Actually Mean Anything? Well…

As was heavily documented yesterday, the ACC‘s Council of Presidents issued a joint statement of solidarity, expressing their desire to work together to continue building a stronger athletic conference. The statement, which was backed by all 11 current committed members and all four future members, read:

“We, the undersigned presidents of the Atlantic Coast Conference, wish to express our commitment to preserve and protect the future of our outstanding league. We want to be clear that the speculation about ACC schools in negotiations or considering alternatives to the ACC are totally false. The presidents of the ACC are united in our commitment to a strong and enduring conference. The ACC has long been a leader in intercollegiate athletics, both academically and athletically, and the constitution of our existing and future member schools will maintain the ACC’s position as one of the nation’s premier conferences.”

So while it’s great to see all of the conference’s schools appear united amidst increased talk of further Big Ten (or even Big 12) raids, does it actually hold any water?

Unfortunately for those of us who are rooting for the ACC’s survival, the answer may be a resounding no, based on similar statements in the past, by other leagues feeling the expansion pressure. A sampling:

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Conference Realignment Rumors: Georgia Tech Next ACC School Head to Big Ten?

Rumors Are Going Around That Georgia Tech May Be Next on the Big Ten's Expansion Hit List

Rumors Are Going Around That Georgia Tech May Be Next on the Big Ten’s Expansion Hit List

The conference realignment carousel never ends. And now, it could potentially have a negative effect on the ACC for the second time in the last few weeks, as there are rumors that Georgia Tech may be headed off to the Big Ten as well, joining Maryland.

What started out as some message board chatter, has seemingly gained some actual legs amongst legitimate sources. I saw some of the talk last night, however, was waiting for some legitimate sources to weigh in on the action. And then not too long ago, SB Nation’s Land Grant Holy Land (Ohio State site) posted this:

Report: Georgia Tech Approved by Big Ten to Become 15th Member

So yeah, this is a bit terrifying. And that the story is now gaining ground in some more reputable sources is a bad sign for the ACC. Of course, the Land Grant Holy Land story isn’t completely sold either (a good thing). As author Luke Zimmerman says:

Besides the most interesting subtext (like, for one, how do all these guys from areas with little to nothing to do with the Big Ten have so many midwest athletics sources?), the other is why the league would move so soon with Maryland’s legal battle with the ACC not even coming to a head yet. While I imagine the exit fees will get negotiated down out of court to something in the $20-25 million dollar range, even $50 million would be a lot for the Big Ten to ostensibly front for the likes of Maryland and Georgia Tech.”

And I’d echo those thoughts. Given the legal battle going on with Maryland, why would Georgia Tech leave now? Their names are on the lawsuit. By endorsing the suit, they endorse the league’s right to pursue that money. I’d also note that while ZImmerman believes the fees could be negotiated down, I’m tempted to think the ACC isn’t budging — especially if it ends up being both teams.

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Meet Your New Neighbors: How Louisville Stacks Up Against the ACC

Now That Louisville’s Officially Invited to the ACC, How Do the Cardinals Stack Up to the Rest of the League?

As you know by now, the ACC has added Louisville — formerly of the Big East — as its 15th member. And while it’s certainly a positive outcome for the conference and the school, admittedly, neither are all that familiar with each other on the football field. First and foremost, we look at the school’s W-L record against each member of the ACC (including Maryland, despite the fact that the Terps will be gone when Louisville joins).

Louisville vs. ACC
Boston College 3-3
Clemson 0-0
Duke 1-0
Florida State 1-10
Georgia Tech 0-0
Maryland 1-3
Miami 1-7
North Carolina 4-3
NC State 2-1
Notre Dame 0-0
Pittsburgh 8-8
Syracuse 6-6
Virginia 1-1
Virginia Tech 2-5
Wake Forest 1-0
All-Time 31-47

Surprising to see just 78 games all-time between Louisville and its new conference-mates — and just 50 when you exclude the matchups against Pitt and Syracuse, who currently play against them annually in the Big East. At the onset, we can expect to see the Cardinals find easy football rivalries with the aforementioned Panthers and Orange, while Clemson, Miami and NC State all seem like natural rivalries, depending on the divisional setup.

Having a successful football program wasn’t the only part of the equation, however. Louisville’s also displayed an impressive, impassioned amount of fan support, which certainly carried weight with the other “football schools” such as Clemson, Virginia Tech and Florida State. A look at home attendance in terms of accumulated percentage of stadium capacity, as officially compiled by the NCAA, from the 2011 football season:

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Conference Realignment: ACC Adds Louisville to Replace Maryland

It’s Official: Louisville Is Headed to the ACC

The big news this morning is the ACC‘s unanimous vote to add Louisville as its 15th member, replacing Maryland, which announced its departure a week ago. While Louisville was certainly added for its football prowess, the school also adds an impressive basketball pedigree, along with a well-rounded and growing athletic program in a new geographic market for the ACC. Obviously, details still have to be worked out in terms of their departure from the Big East, however, one would expect the Cardinals’ arrival to coincide with the Terrapins’ exit.

Though the ACC was in contact with schools such as Connecticut, Cincinnati and Navy — some of which may have been a better traditional “fit” — in the end, they made the most strategic move available. Louisville was an in-demand property, drawing interest from the Big 12 as well. The rest, while desirable programs, were not going anywhere and could be available down the road if necessary. And again, Louisville had the best combination of basketball, football, new markets and growth potential. The school has made significant investments in academics and athletics in recent years, and now, that’s really paid off with an invite to the ACC.

So now what? Well, with luck, this will be the final move for the ACC, barring defections of course. Between adding the strongest program available in Louisville, and the lawsuit filed yesterday to pursue the full exit fee from Maryland, the conference appears to be on much more stable footing (knock on wood). The fact that all 11 current voting members, plus the three additions all backed the lawsuit is a positive sign going forward. No school would get behind enforcing a full $52.5 million-payout if they themselves intended to leave (conceivably, at least). And after the statements from charter members Virginia and North Carolina denouncing any talk of their departures, and the big win for the “football” schools in grabbing Louisville over UConn, things really do seem to be looking up.

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