Tag:Conference Realignment
Posted on: October 30, 2011 11:23 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2011 11:24 pm
 

The Big 12 may not be done expanding

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The wheel of conference realignment never stops spinning, it only hits bumps in the road and crushes conferences beneath it occasionally.

When the Big 12 announed last week that West Virginia would be joining the conference as Missouri's replacement -- should Missouri leave, which is expected but just hasn't happened yet -- interim commissioner Chuck Neinas said that the conference was done expanding for now. He also said that the Big 12 was fine with 10 schools.

Well for now may not have lasted very long. According to Berry Tramel in The Oklahoman, the team that lost out to West Virginia to become the newest member of the Big 12 may still be in the running. Tramel says that the Big 12 may invite Louisville to join the conference soon and expand the league to 11 teams, much like the Big 10 did for years before adding Nebraska this season.

Tramel also says that the Big 12 might consider playing a 10-game round robin conference schedule if it expands to 11 schools in hopes of increasing television money by having more premiere games.

Of course, I'm of the opinion that if Louisville did eventually work its way to the Big 12, the conference wouldn't stop at 11, and would look to add another school. Much like the Big 12 would consider a 10-game conference schedule to increase revenue, it'd probably start thinking about the revenue it could get by rekindling the Big 12 title game as well.

Who that next team would be, I'm not sure. BYU could still come into play, even though the Big 12 seemed to pass on the Cougars already. In his report Tramel mentioned both Notre Dame and Cincinnati as possibilities, but I see no circumstance in which Notre Dame joins the Big 12 in football. Cincinnati might work because its current conference is in the process of falling apart, and it would provide the Big 12 with a nice market in Ohio, which could have some recruiting benefits as well.
Posted on: October 28, 2011 5:46 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2011 6:44 pm
 

West Virginia expects July 2012 arrival in Big 12

Posted by Chip Patterson

West Virginia president James Clements made it very clear the way he felt when issuing his opening statements on the Big 12 Update teleconference.

"It's a great day to be a Mountaineer, and a great day to be a member of the Big 12 conference," Clements boasted to the media on the line. After a week filed with back and fort reports regarding their conference affiliation, West Virginia finally had a home.

When, exactly, the Mountaineers join the Big 12 is still unknown. Big East bylaws require a 27 month withdrawal period after the official notification from the departing school. Athletic director Oliver Luck confirmed he officially informed Big East commissioner John Marinatto of West Virginia's intentions on Friday morning.

Both Luck and Clements repeatedly used the target date "July 1, 2012" as the school's expected arrival in the Big 12. When multiple questions were posed to West Virginia's leadership on how they planned to leave before the completion 27-month period - the response was predictably vague.

"Our team and their team were in discussion today, tying to make that happen," Luck said of the negotiations with the Big East office.

As required in the bylaws, West Virginia has already paid $2.5 million - half of the $5 million exit fee - to the league offices along with their official notification of withdrawal. Luck and Clements were both confident in their ability to join the Big 12 in time for the 2012-2013 season, though there was no elaboration on the negotiations with the Big East.

West Virginia to the Big 12
Another important development from Friday's teleconference was the Big 12's announcement that the reported grant-in-rights was close to being approved by the member schools. The agreement, which was confirmed as a 6-year deal, is currently "being circulated" among the member schools with the expectation it will be approved in a Tuesday meeting.

The Big 12 announced that this would likely be a stopping point, for now, for expansion. Ten teams allows for a round-robin conference schedule, and "a true champion" to be crowned in the regular season. Missouri has not officially left the Big 12 as of Friday's call, but it was clear they did not expect the Tigers to be a conference member for much longer.

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Posted on: October 28, 2011 12:13 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Big 12 makes West Virginia official

Posted by Tom Fornelli

As first reported by CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy on Friday morning, the Big 12 has invited West Virginia to join the conference and West Virginia accepted the invitation, informing the Big East of the decision on Friday.

The move is now official as the Big 12 has released a statement about West Virginia.

"The Big 12 Presidents and Chancellors are excited to welcome another outstanding institution to the Conference," said Burns Hargis, Chair of the Big 12 Board of Directors in the release. "The addition of West Virginia, while expanding the reach of the Big 12, brings an impressive institution with esteemed academics and a proud athletic tradition into the Conference. This is another step in building a strong foundation for the future of the Big 12." 

"The Big 12 is a perfect fit for West Virginia University," said WVU President Dr. James P. Clements. "It is a strong conference that, like WVU, values quality academic and athletic programs, and has a great tradition of success. This is a very exciting time for WVU and Mountaineer nation. I am confident that the future of WVU athletics has never been more promising."

West Virginia to the Big 12
What is not so clear at this point is when West Virginia will be joining the Big 12, According to the Big 12's release on Friday, the school would become a member of the conference beginning on July 1, 2012. However, the Big East said on Friday that it plans on holding West Virginia to the same 27-month notice that it is holding Pitt and Syracuse to. If that is the case, then West Virginia can't join the Big 12 until 2014.

During a conference call on Friday afternoon announcing the deal, West Virginia said that it plans on being in the Big 12 by July 2012, but it's not official as of yet. From Chip Patterson's post:
Both [athletic director Oliver] Luck and [President James] Clements repeatedly used the target date "July 1, 2012" as the school's expected arrival in the Big 12. When multiple questions were posed to West Virginia's leadership on how they planned to leave before the completion 27-month period - the response was predictably vague.

"Our team and their team were in discussion today, tying to make that happen," Luck said of the negotiations with the Big East office. 
How West Virginia would go about that, the odds are that the answer is money. The Big East may be willing to let the Mountaineers leave early if the school pays far more than the $5 million exit fee. What exactly the amount would be for that, well, as Luck said above, those discussions are currently being held.

Of course, this does not answer every question about this announced move. Generally over the last few weeks when West Virginia was a rumored target of the Big 12, it was always with the caveat that the conference wouldn't bring in another school unless Missouri left the conference first. Well, as of the news that West Virginia had accepted an invitation on Friday, Missouri had yet to announce that it was leaving for the SEC.

Though it's possible that Missouri's announcement could be coming in the next couple of days.
Posted on: October 28, 2011 12:03 am
Edited on: October 28, 2011 11:10 am
 

Leaked SEC statement welcomes Missouri to league

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Barring someone having pulled off the new Guinness world's record for Most Convincing April Fool's prank in late October, the SEC is (or was) poised and ready to welcome Missouri to the league this coming (or past) Monday--as an introductory statement dated Oct. 22 leaked on the conference's own website made clear late Thursday night.

The statement includes references to an announcement yet-to-be made by Mike Slive, links to related introductory Missouri content, and July 1, 2012 specified as the date in which the Tigers would officially join the league. As of 11:40 ET Thursday night, the page appeared on the official "SEC Digital Network" site like this:



The page and all associated content had been removed by 11:55 ET.

If it wasn't already safe to assume Missouri was headed to the SEC before, it certainly is now. The July 1 date would also corroborate the news dropped by Slive Thursday that the league was still aiming for the Tigers to join before the 2012 football season.

The questions now are: if the announcement had been planned last Monday, what kept the SEC and Missouri from releasing it? And now that we know Missouri's acceptance is a mere formality, how long until the league (and the Tigers) drop the pretense?

The statement reads in part:
Given the ever-changing conference paradigm over the past year, the Southeastern Conference has continued to demonstrate its commitment to maintaining its stature as one of the nation’s premier conferences by welcoming the University of Missouri as the league’s 14th member, Commissioner Mike Slive announced Monday. 

Missouri joins Texas A&M University as the league’s two new institutions who will begin full membership on July 1, 2012. It is the first expansion of the SEC membership since Arkansas and South Carolina joined the conference in 1992 ... 

Geographically, it is a natural fit as the state of Missouri touches more states (Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee) that currently are home to an SEC institution than any other state that is not in the league’s previous 13-member footprint. Like the majority of the cities in the SEC, Columbia, Mo., is a college-centered town with a metropolitan population of 164,283, making it the fifth-largest city in the state of Missouri ...

Missouri is one of only 35 public U.S. universities invited to membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU). It will become the fourth SEC school that is part of the AAU, joining Florida, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.

Monday’s announcement marks just the fourth time in the history of the conference that the SEC will expand its membership. In a landscape that has seemed ever-changing in recent years, the SEC has exemplified stability as 10 of its original 13 members remain.
For a look at the full webpage, click here.

UPDATE: An SEC spokesman has described the appearance of the pages as a "web vendor mistake" and stated there is "no agreement" between the league and Missouri.
Posted on: October 27, 2011 5:50 pm
 

Boise issues statement on meeting with Big East

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As reported by CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy Wednesday, Big East officials have pushed west to Boise State and Air Force in an effort to find the new members that would keep their endangered football league afloat.

Boise president Bob Kustra has now released a statement confirming those meetings and that Big East commissioner John Marinatto had offered a "presentation" on "what role Boise State could potentially play" in the league's expansion efforts. (In plain speak: Marinatto asked them to come aboard.)

Here's Kustra's statement in full:
“We had an informative meeting today with officials from the Big East Conference. Commissioner John Marinatto made a presentation regarding possible ideas for conference expansion and what role Boise State could potentially play in those plans. We appreciate the outreach on the part of the Big East Conference and will continue our due diligence in this matter.

“As we have indicated consistently, we will take our time in evaluating conference affiliation options and we will make an informed decision representing the best interests of the university. Boise State is a quality institution with an elite football program and a significant national brand identity. As a result, we are an extremely valuable partner when it comes to conference affiliation."
Where the Big East is concerned, we doubt anyone would argue with that last assumption.
Posted on: October 27, 2011 2:12 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 5:34 pm
 

Slive: SEC 'working on' 13 and 14-team schedules

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Hey, remember three days ago, when we told you that per Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity, the SEC wasn't looking at a 14-team schedule for the 2012 season?

HAHAHA just kidding, folks:


As reported by the Birmingham News's Jon Solomon, yes, that's Mike Slive telling reporters at SEC basketball media days that McGarity was (as the kids say) full of it. (Slive only added that he had nothing else to add.) Since we're pretty sure there's no better source on this than the commissioner himself, it's now safe to assume that Missouri has not been ruled out from competing in the SEC in 2012 and that the league is prepared to make the necessary accomodations if the Tigers want to make the leap as soon as next season.

That, of course, was how Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton had previously described his school's potential jump, saying recently it would be "applicable to the next year."

That assertion has been challenged by everyone from McGarity to Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas to plenty of other anonymously sourced reports that have put Mizzou in the SEC in 2013 at the earliest. That makes more sense than the alternative, since the rearranging of 2012 schedules at this late date on both the Big 12's end (with a giant Missouri-sized hole in their slates) and the SEC's would be a logistical nightmare.

But it may be a nightmare both the Tigers and the SEC are willing to deal with, if it means the former dodges a lame-duck final season in the Big 12 and the latter avoids the awkwardness of a 13-team schedule. With Slive now openly admitting for the first time that the SEC is poised to go to 14 teams and the Big 12 actively pursuing the addition of one or more new members, it seems likelier than ever Missouri's defection could become official in a matter of days rather than weeks.

Will that be soon enough to leap through the rapidly-closing 2012 scheduling window? That still seems unlikely, but if Mike Slive himself is open to the possibility, the possibility is no doubt open.



Posted on: October 26, 2011 12:06 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 3:17 pm
 

Not so fast on West Virginia to the Big 12

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Tuesday CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy reported that the Big 12 had invited West Virginia to join the conference in the event that Missouri left for the SEC, and that West Virginia had accepted the invitation. A report that was confirmed by multiple outlets throughout the day.

Well, this is the world of conference realigment, and in the world of conference realignment things happen and then don't happen before happening again or not. Then you wake up in an alley somewhere with no recollection of how you got there or why you're suddenly missing a kidney.

So of course there was a report on Wednesday from the West Virginia Metro News saying that the done deal may not be a done deal after all, and that Louisvillecould be replacing Missouri in the Big 12.
As of late yesterday afternoon, WVU had received a verbal invitation to the Big 12 and had accepted. Plans were in the works for a news conference Wednesday to make the announcement.

But sources say the process hit a “bump in the road” last night.  WVU was apparently notified by the Big 12 that it needed “more information” from WVU and that there would be a vote by the Big 12 Board, perhaps on Monday.

There is speculation that the “bump” was a push by Louisville.
So what's the problem? Well, it's not so much that Louisville made some kind of last minute presentation to the Big 12 or anything as much as it's the fact that the schools aren't all in agreement that West Virginia is the better choice, as Brett McMurphy documented on Wednesday.

You may remember that on Monday, while one Big 12 administrator was talking about how much better West Virginia would be for the Big 12 than Missouri, another conference administrator was of the belief that Louisville was the better choice.

I know, the fact that the members of the Big 12 don't all agree on something shocks me too.
Posted on: October 24, 2011 6:47 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 6:50 pm
 

UGA AD: No discussion of 14-team '12 SEC schedule

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Last time we checked in on the ongoing SEC 2012 scheduling mystery, the league seemed 100 percent committed to some form of 13-game schedule, with any additional teams -- Missouri, Missouri or potentially Missouri -- on hold until the 2013 football season. But then Mizzou chancellor Brady Deaton said that any move made by his institution would be "applicable to the next year," seemingly reopening the door for  the Tigers to join as soon as next year.

But to hear Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity tell it, that door may not be open after all. In an interview with the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, McGarity said that in discussions of the SEC's 2012 football schedule, the league has focused exclusively on a slate without any hypothetical late additions.

"That's all that we're really focusing on right now is the 13-team model," McGarity said.

He added that the SEC's concentration has been exclusively on finding a workable solution for 2012, not establishing any kind of long-term solutions for preserving rivalries or cross-divisional rotations.

"There are various challenges that will be clarified here shortly," McGarity said. "But we all realize that we're just focusing on one year. ... That's really our mission right now."

That would seem to indicate that  the conference (rather obviously) isn't planning on staying at 13 teams for very long. But a "one year" solution might also suggest the league is planning on having newcomer Texas A&M play their eight league contests as a four-four divisional split, a move that would keep the second half of this year's home-and-home cross-division rotation intact.

That kind of split would never work as anything more than a single-season patch job, but SEC spokesman Larry Templeton has already called it the "least disruptive" plan for next year.

At this late stage, of course, adding Missouri would be even more disruptive. But if the SEC's scheduling intentions as portrayed by McGarity are any indication, that's one disruption that will wait until 2013.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com