Yeah, that's right. I just compared this whole realignment situation to WWI. If there are any history buffs out there you can see all the amazing parallels between this mess and The Great War. One small and seemingly insignificant event leads to other players doing things no one thought they would do. And now there are multiple nations lining up with one another to try to claim a position of power and hopefully end the conflict sooner rather than later, but only time will tell if the chaos will be worse than anything we had ever imagined.
There is news tonight that the ACC is in talks with Pitt and Syracuse. Judging from the "no comment" response from multiple Syracuse officials it looks like it's going to happen. It doesn't surprise me to see the ACC go after teams like Pitt and Syracuse. I still can't quite figure out all the rumors of the ACC going after Texas and some other Big 12 teams, but here's my attempt to understand what is going on behind the scenes.....
If it is FSU to the SEC then you have to ask what the ACC will do in response. It's been theorized for some time that the advent of the superconference era would leave us with 4 16 team conferences and that some combination of the ACC and the Big East would probably be one of those leagues. For a while it looked like that might not happen as the Big 12 was blowing up and the Big East started talking to the rest of the old Big 8 teams Kansas, Kansas St, Missouri, and Iowa St. Some version of that may still happen, but it looks like the ACC "has returned to finish the job" as Rhas Al Goul said in Batman Begins when speaking about his plan to destroy Gotham City after the first attempt failed and left the city weakened, but still alive. The ACC pretty much tried to destroy the Big East when they snatched Miami, Boston College, and Virginia Tech several years ago. And now it seems they want to make it even harder for the Big East, the ACC's arch nemesis when it comes to basketball supremacy, to survive.
If the ACC fears losing one or maybe 2 teams to the SEC then they can at least be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to ensuring their viability. The Big 12 could have certainly used the leadership that John Swofford provides, but that's another issue. You have to think that the SEC will try to poach at least 2 ACC teams because now is the best time to move to 16 if you are going to do it at all. It seemed originally that the SEC wanted to stand pat at 14 and see what happened to the first poor sap that tried to make a major 16 team conference work. They may no longer have that luxury. If schools start moving in multiple directions at the same time then you should take who you want now before that school is off the table. You may only get one shot to do this right.
The other argument for this approach comes in the basis for making these moves in the first place and that is TV money. It's pretty much been covered that adding A&M and another school will allow the SEC to renegotiate its contract with both CBS and ESPN. Both A&M and whoever the 14th team is will have to bring a certain dollar amount to the table in order to pay for themselves, but even that is not good enough. Each team has to add enough value to a new contract so that all 14 members get an immediate pay raise. If that is not doable then that makes the whole exercise completely pointless. Well, the same is true if you want to move from 14 to 16. Teams number 15 and 16 will have to bring enough value to not only pay for themselves, but enough to give everyone else a raise otherwise there is no point in doing it. If the SEC is forced to go to 16 later with less desirable options just to keep up with everyone else then they aren't doing themselves any favors by waiting. It is doubtful that there are 2 more teams out there who could bring the firepower that A&M and FSU bring in a second round of expansion. So anyway, this means that it may be the smarter move to find 15 and 16 now and take the lump sum pay raise that is coming rather than having to take a pay cut down the road because 15 and 16 didn't add as much value per team as 13 and 14 did.
So here is another theory. The Big Ten wants Notre Dame. The Big Ten can't get Notre Dame without raiding the Big East and making it a non-viable conference for Notre Dame's other programs. Ok great, so the Big Ten wants to expand more into the Northeast anyway so going after schools like UConn and Rutgers could help you kill 2 birds with one stone. But wait a minute, will that be enough? The Big East is ready to snatch up some old Big 8 schools in the event that the Big 12 does fall apart so it is possible that the Big East is about to become stronger rather than weaker. So what the Big Ten needs is a partner. They can't take down the Big East by themselves, but with a little help from the ACC maybe they can make it happen.
So here's how it works:
-The ACC grabs a school like Syracuse which is a program they have wanted for a very long time and another strong option like Pittsburgh. The Big Ten doesn't want Pitt because it already has a strong presence in PA markets and Pitt isn't a big national draw like Notre Dame or FSU. The ACC might also like schools like Rutgers or UConn, but they are probably more likely to bolt for the Big Ten from the ACC if an offer ever came so don't worry about them because it doesn't fit the plan.
-The ACC helps out the Big Ten by killing the Big East and the Big Ten helps out the ACC by promising never to raid the ACC for schools like Maryland or Duke or UNC. The ACC also wants basketball supremacy and the further destruction of the Big East is something they are very interested in without all the other factors.
-There probably isn't another option in the Northeast that interests the Big Ten. WVU is not an option. The Big Ten is an elitist academic empire and WVU is not of their ilk. There's an outside chance that the ACC would take WVU, but there is also a shot that the SEC takes WVU and either way that further weakens the Big East. Perhaps in the world of 16 team conferences the ACC relents and adds programs like WVU and USF to balance out the numbers.
-If the Big Ten can't find a suitable Big East program and the option of taking an ACC team is off the table then they can do the next best thing and take the strongest option out there that the Big East will look to heal itself with and that just happens to be Missouri. The Mizzou people have made no bones about it that they want into the Big Ten. The Big Ten probably doesn't really want them that bad, but they fit into the plan. Missouri brings the academics that the Big Ten is willing to associate with and Mizzou neatly fits into slot 16 and prevents the Big Ten from having to go look for some off the wall candidate.
-Texas is probably the only other candidate that the Big Ten might consider, but that won't happen because Texas will not give up the LHN.
-You might have been able to count on the SEC to take Mizzou, but I think the SEC is looking for bigger fish and it is probably smart for the SEC to look for more of a cultural fit than Mizzou.
-The Big East will probably survive in some form, but may very well lose their BCS status and will turn into a continental conference instead of an Eastern conference. They could be the Mountain West to the East of the Rockies. I have no idea how this may effect the theory that the Big East football schools and the Big East basketball schools are headed for a split, but I would guess that schools like Georgetown and Villanova aren't going to be thrilled if the Big East goes after a bunch of non AQs to fill out the football side of the conference. Perhaps we see the return of Temple to the Big East or maybe even the addition of UMass who is moving up to FBS soon.
I know that that is quite a conspiracy and I have absolutely no evidence to back it up, but it makes sense. I could be completely off base and you could see the Big Ten going after Maryland by tomorrow, but I think this scenario works better for everyone involved.