Conference realignment could trickle down to ACC

  • Nebraska's Big 10 decision could come by Friday
  • ACC might have to act to save schools or expand
  • Can you see an ACC with West Virginia or Connecticut?

Concluding yet another what-if conversation about conference realignment Tuesday, a plugged-in source offered these sage words:

"Even when you're sure you know, you don't."

Amen, brother. Anyone who recalls the ACC's 2003 expansion understands that even the principals — Syracuse had its bags packed until Virginia politicians intervened on Virginia Tech's behalf — can get blindsided.

That said, the latest realignment buzz is not good news for those of us who hope the 12-member ACC remains unchanged.

Unlike seven summers ago, the ACC is not the aggressor here. But the league may soon have no choice but to act.

The Southeastern Conference courting Virginia Tech and other southern ACC schools? An ACC without Miami and/or Florida State but with West Virginia, Syracuse and/or Connecticut?

Once preposterous, it's now conceivable, especially if Wednesday's Omaha World-Herald is prescient.

The newspaper quoted an unnamed Big 12 official saying he expects Nebraska to bolt the Big 12 for the Big Ten. The executive anticipates an announcement Friday.

The ridiculously named, 11-member Big Ten is determined to expand for two reasons: broadening the reach of its cable television network and meeting the membership minimum required to stage a football championship game.

But unless its 12th is Notre Dame, the Big Ten is unlikely to stop there. The Big East's Rutgers and Syracuse and Big 12's Missouri, for example, offer far more lucrative TV markets than does Nebraska and its renowned football program.

And given that Big Ten membership could probably triple their annual television revenue to more than $20 million, Missouri and Rutgers, and perhaps Nebraska, are groveling for an invitation.

If those dominoes fall, buckle up.

A Big 12 sans Nebraska and Missouri likely pushes as many as six leftovers, most notably heavyweights Texas and Oklahoma, to the predatory Pacific 10, where new commissioner Larry Scott is the antithesis of his staid predecessor, Tom Hansen. An All-American tennis player at Harvard, Scott was chairman and CEO of the Women's Tennis Association and had zero college administrative experience before taking over the Pac-10 last year.

If the Big Ten and Pac-10 balloon beyond recognition — don't these power and money grabs warm your capitalist heart? — the SEC is on deck.

If any conference should be content, it's the 12-school SEC. Long-term contracts with CBS and ESPN assure each member more than $17 million annually and the league national prominence.

But in an April speech to newspaper sports editors, SEC commissioner Mike Slive said realignment elsewhere would prompt his conference to respond.

How? Would the SEC be satisfied as constituted with the Big Ten and Pac-10 at 16? Does bigger translate to better?

Featured Stories

Advertisement

PLAN AHEAD

Top Trending Videos