The top story in sports the over the past few months has been what is going to be the final outcome when conference realignment is over and done with. Who is going where? What about super conferences? What conferences are going to be around when it all over with? In my last blog entry I said my thoughts on what things will look like when its all said and done, and it would look like this:
Pac 10____BigTen_______SEC_______ACC________Mountain West
1. USC______Ohio St._______Florida______Miami_________Utah
2. UCLA_____Penn St._______LSU________BC___________TCU
Cal_________Michigan______Tennessee___Virginia Tech____ BYU
4. Stanford____Michigan St.____Kentucky____UNC_________Air Force
5. Oregon St. ___Wisconsin ____Alabama ____NC State ______Colorado St.
6. Oregon ______Purdue _____Auburn _____Duke_________New Mexico
7. Arizona St.___Indiana______Vanderbilt____Virginia______San Diego St.
8. Arizona_____Illinois_______Miss St.______Maryland____UNLV
9. Washington__Northwestern__Ole Miss_____UConn______Wyoming
11. Colorado______Iowa_____S. Carolina____Cincinnati____Kansas St.
12. Texas________Nebraska___Georgia_____Louisville_____Iowa St.
13. Texas A&M____Missouri___Georgia Tech___S. Florida___Baylor
14. Texas Tech____Rutgers_____Clemson_____Wake Forest__Boise St.
15. Oklahoma___Notre Dame____Florida St.____E. Carolina__Fresno St.
16. Oklahoma St.__Pittsburgh____West Virginia__C. Florida___Nevada
Now the interesting thing is what happens if I am correct? College football and the money that it produces are the things that are driving this conference realignment. College’s second biggest sport, college basketball, seems to be forgotten about. Simply put college basketball only produces a fraction of the profit that college football does, that is why a team like Kansas is not highly sought after and will be forced to join the Mountain West.
But what about those teams that do not play Division 1 FBS football? The Big East as it stands today is one of the big six power conferences and has 8 schools in its football conference, but 16 teams in it basketball conference. So if the Big East as a football conference collapses, what happens to the other 8 schools. Well, first Notre Dame will go to the Big Ten. One of the major selling points for Notre Dame will give up its independence for the Big Ten is just for this reason. If we start to get super conferences then the Big 12 and Big East are likely the odd two out, and Notre Dame will move to the Big Ten to protect its other non-football sports.
This then leaves DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s, and Villanova asking, what about us? These 7 teams can either decide to stay together and pull in other teams, but it is going to be hard to pull away schools from other stable conferences to one that seems to be imploding. More likely is that these schools will look to go to outside conferences and thus ending the Big East for good.
With these schools leaving and the schools being from the Midwest (DePaul and Marquette), Mid Atlantic (Georgetown, Seton Hall, and Villanova), and Northeast (St. John’s and Providence) these schools will be divided up into several different conference. DePaul and Marquette will most likely return to Conference USA, where they were before moving to the Big East in 2005. Although C-USA may still be a little bitter about what happened in 2005 C-USA will have two vacancies from East Carolina and Central Florida going to the ACC, and with Marquette being a solid basketball school and Depaul being located in Chicago it is going to be to hard for C-USA to pass up a chance to reacquire them.
Villanova and Georgetown will be welcomed with open arms into the Atlantic 10. The A-10 is already a solid basketball conference with Temple, Xavier, Dayton and St. Joseph’s (a Villanova rival). The expansion will move them from 14 to 16 teams make them the 6th super conference in basketball, and one of the best basketball conferences in the country.
That then leaves Seton Hall, St. John’s and Providence, will have several options…but none of them all that great. These three’s best hope would be that C-USA would decide to do the same thing as the A-10 and create another 16 school basketball super conference, however if that doesn’t happen then the choices get ugly. The problem is that these three schools, while having past success, are not all that great at basketball (remember it is all about revenue sports) and are also smaller schools who do not have a large fan base (even in NYC more people now tend to root for UConn or Syracuse over St. John’s). There are 3 conferences that are in the region that the three schools could join either together or individually; the MAAC (10 schools, notable: Siena), the Coastal Athletic (12 teams, notable: George Mason, VCU, and Drexel) and America East (9 teams, notable: Vermont). All those options are not prefered if you are Providence, St. John’s or Seton Hall, and generally unless Conference USA comes calling these teams better hope for limited conference realignment or they will only be seen on ESPN during Bracket Busters Week.
For Villanova, Georgetown, DePaul, Marquette, Senton Hall, St. John’s and Providence conference realignment will not be about what conference should we join, and which one will get us the most money? No, for them conference realignment is about what conference will have us, and where can we go to stay relavent?