Breaking News; 16-team ACC, the Pac-16 is Coming, and Death to Big East Football

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With news that Syracuse and Pittsburgh were going to join the ACC, the dominoes were truly set to fall for the creation of the 16-team mega-conferences. While the Texas A&M domino wiggled and almost caused the chain reaction, it was the ACC who started the show, realizing their members could be poached by the SEC and Big Ten if they didn’t act first.

With the addition of two strong basketball programs from the Northeast (who’ve had their share of football success over the years), the ACC lays a strong claim to the best basketball conference in the country ahead of the Big East. Now word is that UConn is lobbying hard to join the ACC as well. This could lead to the demise of the Big East as a football entity entirely, or at the very least relegate it from BCS-conference to WAC-like status. I do not think the ACC would say no to UConn and would also be in a strong position to pick up another Big East team such as West Virginia or Rutgers. However, one can not count out the ACC going hard for Texas, despite the obvious geographic distance from the rest of the conference.

That being said, the Big Ten is going to have to assess whether they want to stick with 12 teams or go for 16 as well. Several of their potential targets (Maryland, Syracuse, and Pitt) appear off the board now. So, to get to 16, they would need to target Big East schools such as Rutgers or West Virginia. Notre Dame would seem like an obvious choice if the Fighting Irish realize their independence is no longer advantageous when competing against super-conferences. The Big Ten could also go after the remnants of the Big 12, with Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State being possibilities.

However, the SEC would also find going to 16 more challenging if they can not get any ACC teams either, so they would probably also go hard after Missouri and West Virginia. Louisville of the Big East might work, as might TCU. But, the SEC will find getting three more marquee teams other than Texas A&M will be quite difficult. Thus, they may end up losers in all of this because of their lack of proaction?

Larry Scott, not to risk being left out of the circus has now begun making concessions on the Longhorn Network that will allow Texas to join Oklahoma and Oklahoma State (and presumably Texas Tech) in a newly expanded Pac-16. One way or another it appeared the Oklahomas were set to come west. If Texas agrees to come, then it is a done deal. The rest of the Pac-12 can accept three mediocre academic institutions to get one great one, especially when they are adding the power of three of the nations best football programs and 30 million TV sets.

In the end, ironically in some cases, it seems like some teams will be in a position of strength as this whole realignment unfolds. Missouri, West Virginia, Kansas, Texas, and a few other teams will be in a strong negotiating position, as multiple conferences will be aiming for them. Unfortunately, a few others like Iowa State and Baylor will be looking for someone to take them into the fold and may find that the WAC, MWC, or Conference USA will be their only options.

As for the Big East? Well, the loss of 4 football playing teams to the ACC would leave them with just six. They might lose another two/three to the Big Ten and/or SEC. They will have to either snap up Kansas and Kansas State, plus some Conference USA-type football schools to even continue to offer the sport. Or, they could simply go basketball only. They’d still be a good basketball conference in key media markets with their eight basketball-only schools. Maybe they should just go back to their roots.