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Over the past few weeks I have documented my predictions for NCAA Mega Conference expansion in a series of phases that I posted in the order I think they will occur.  In case you missed it, here are the links:

  1. First Big Ten expansion includes three Big East programs
  2. Pac-10 grows by two
  3. Big Ten completes full expansion to 16 teams
  4. The SEC responds in a big way
  5. Two more Big 12 teams move to the Pac-10
  6. 14 feels right for the ACC

The next question may be what happens to what is left of the Big East and Big 12.  My guess is that the Big East will become a conference driven by basketball without football.  I’ve read that the Big East has already approached some Atlantic 10 teams about their willingness to join the league if some of their current members are poached.

That could potentially leave Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida in no man’s land.  Perhaps the Big 12 would try to rally around what they have left in Texas, invite  the Big East castoffs and a couple of current non-BCS schools like TCU and Central Florida in a desperate attempt to maintain their BCS status.

Another question is what happens to the BCS.  Does the new conference alignment alter it in a whole new way?  Could the four mega conferences work together to put their four champions in a four team playoff and complete eliminate the involvement of all the other programs as reader NC_Buckeye has suggested?  I could certainly see that happening.

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Shortly after the second phase of the Big Ten’s expansion you can expect the action to be fast and furious.  Everybody will be waiting for the SEC, the highest revenue grossing conference, to make their move.  They will do so, and it will be huge.

To maintain its place as the top conference in the country the SEC will be compelled to act.  With Notre Dame committed to the Big Ten, Texas is the remaining big prize.  They are also the only university that can add a significant number to the SEC’s bottom line, and would certainly shift the balance of power.  The SEC will be smelling blood after Colorado and Missouri leave the Big 12 and will go right for the kill.

Much of the speculation on long term expansion has the SEC looking at ACC schools Florida St., Miami, Clemson and Georgia Tech.  However, I don’t think they’ll be looking to solidify the ground they’ve already got covered in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.  I think they’ll be looking West.  By doing so, they can eliminate all questions as to who really is the best college football conference in the country while greatly expanding their footprint and revenue potential. 

They will start the wooing of Texas early and will be willing to take on their state rival Texas A&M as well.  While the Texas A&M football program may not be at the top level right now, the school has an excellent overall athletics program and a strong passionate fan base.

And then, to add the cherry on top, the SEC will also expand to the Sooner state bringing in Oklahoma and Oklahoma St.  This addition will enable the SEC to own the Red River Rivalry, further expand into new territory and bring in two more programs with huge alumni support bases.

To me the addition of Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. sounds much more impressive than the group of Florida St., Miami, Clemson and Georgia Tech.

And since the SEC is already divided into two geographically-based divisions it is easy to imagine a new alignment:

East
Alabama
Auburn
Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
South Carolina
Tennessee
Vanderbilt

West
Arkansas
LSU
Mississippi
Mississippi St.
Oklahoma
Oklahoma St.
Texas
Texas A&M

Wow…so the SEC will have spoken and made a huge impact on the college sports landscape.  Will they have solidified their spot at the top of the college football mountain?  What do you think about this potential SEC expansion?

What conference will make the next move?  Will the Pac 10 or ACC strive to match the SEC and Big 16?  Will the Big East or the conference formerly known as the Big 12 make a move for survival?

Photo sources: dherrera_96 and SD Dirk

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The biggest thing that came out of the Big Ten meetings today was the reference by conference commissioner Jim Delany to the shifting U.S. population. 

“As far as the shifting population, that is reason, by itself, enough, to look at the concept of expansion,” Delany said. “In the last 20, 30 years, there’s been a clear shift in movement into the Sun Belt. The rates of growth in the Sun Belt are four times the rates they are in the East or the Midwest.”  What does this statement that seems to have come from left field mean?  Here are four possibilities:

  1. The Big Ten is going to make a huge push for Texas.  Many folks, including me, have discussed the fact that their are two potentially huge prizes to be won in expansion, Notre Dame and Texas.  While Texas was mentioned briefly as a Big Ten target, most of the speculation is that the conference will push Notre Dame to move.  Maybe their main target is Texas.
  2. ACC schools like Maryland and Virginia may be expansion candidates.  On May 13 Tom Dienhart of Rivals tweeted that those two programs were included in the latest buzz he was hearing.  First of all, based on the ridiculous happenings in the state of Virginia during the ACC expansion earlier this decade I don’t see UVA going anywhere.  Secondly, the ACC is on the cusp of signing an impressive deal with ESPN that will significantly increase the revenue each member will receive.  A week ago this may have been a much greater possibility.  The Big Ten may grab Maryland but I’d expect it to take a lot of hard work to do so.
  3. Delany is simply firing a shot across the bow of the SEC and their commissioner Mike Slive.  It seems clear that the major battle for supremacy that awaits college football will feature the Big Ten versus the SEC.  Delany is trying to make the SEC a little less comfortable.
  4. It’s a complete smokescreen.  All of the talk about the South is simply to open up the possibilities and take some of the pressure off the Big East schools they are likely to invite along with Notre Dame.

In my mind the most likely option is the fourth one.  However, if there is any reciprocal interest from Texas (and I have to believe somebody somewhere in the Big Ten knows if there is) then the first option is a no brainer. 

Please, share your thoughts.  What other options do you see?

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