Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The dozen biggest misconceptions in realignment posts and articles...

As a guy who has tracked conference realignment since 1989, I am constantly reading realignment articles and fan responses.  There are some things I run across from even the most reputable of the realignment bloggers and reporters that just floor me.  So Today I am going to talk about things that frankly I consider misconceptions that are often pushed forward in realignment talk as viable and even likely possibilities to trigger conference movement.

1) Politics in the state of Texas may push Houston into the Big 12.

I have read articles where this is thrown out by out of state realignment writers.  It betrays an absolute misunderstanding of Texas politics. Houston may gain inclusion to the Big 12 at some point, but Texas politics will not have played a role.

Look...Yes former Lt. Governor Bob Bullock did lend his considerable power to back up his friend David Sibley, a former Mayor of Waco, to lean on UT and TAMU to accept the Big 8 schools' long offered concept of a somewhat merger and take Tech and Baylor into the Big12. 

It totally happened.
But that was almost 25 years ago.

There are no politicians in Texas today who are chomping at the bit to try to force something down UT's throat.   UT has too many powerful boosters to want to try something like that today.  It would be political suicide.
That was a unique window in time. The Lt. Governor in Texas has historically been the most powerful position in the Texas Government.  Bullock was the last in a line of fearless, cutthroat Texas politicians.  He was a total wild card who scared the crap out of other elected officials. That kind of politician doesn't exist today in the Texas State government.
The forces behind this coalition had leadership roles in areas where they could touch the PUF fund which both schools were a ton more reliant on back then.
Ann Richards was Governor and probably had her eyes on potentially running for President one day. She had strong UT and Baylor ties and, as such, potentially a lot to lose and so she wisely stayed out of it.
Texas Tech and Baylor had large alumni bases as members of the Texas-only SWC.  Politicians affiliated with Baylor and Tech were willing to work together and to play hardball with UT and A&M if needed.
These factors just do not exist today.  Lately A&M's had the most influence on Texas State government.  That was a part of how they were able to leave for the SEC without interference.
Current Governor Greg Abbott is a UT guy. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick is a radio talk show host out of Houston. While he seems the type who would love to claim credit for getting UH into the Big 12, he also seems like a guy with larger political aspirations.  Jamming UH down UT's throat is not going to help his political career in any way.
This wouldn't be "Hey, lets keep as much of the SWC together as possible..."  This would be, "Let's force UT into an association they have not chosen."  Additionally, TCU, Tech, and Baylor are usually backing UT's position lest the Longhorns turn on them, so you have politicians supporting the state's 5th most powerful school trying to badger politicians supporting the state's 1st, 3rd, 4th, and, I dunno what TCU would be...seventh (?) most powerful school?  I cannot see that.
Plus Houston in the Big 12 is not in A&M's best interest so the state's #2 school in terms of influence would not be in favor of this either.
This is not the kind of movement where Texas politics would come into the fold.

I just don't see any chance of Texas politicians forcing the conference to take UH.
If UH gets in, it will be for the same reason TCU got in --- because the key powers in the conference saw a need to add them. Nothing more.

2) Oklahoma is moderately happy in the Big 12.

Their actions suggest they aren't. 
Not at all. 

If you look at what Oklahoma has done over the last few years it certainly appears they have no desire to be in the Big 12.
1) In 2010,  they were pushing to go west with UT, Tech, A&M, OSU, and CU.  DeLoss Dodds screwed that up.
2) They then were part of a group that approached the Big 10 about joining with Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa State, and Texas A&M--- presumably to escape DeLoss Dodds.  The Big 10 declined that group of schools for their reasons. 
(My best guess is that at that point they only wanted the football red meat in the Big 12 ---Nebraska, OU, and UT.  In addition to not wanting some of the offered schools, they probably recognized that Dodds was bordering on irrational ---some may call it "cagey" --- and would go to a different conference simply to give the Big 10 the bird for trying to force his hand.)
3) Then they offered to join the PAC-12 straight up with Oklahoma State.  This was a no-brainer offer the PAC should have accepted as UT would have followed OU.  (UT won't follow A&M, but OU is another story.)
The academic core of the PAC-12 (Mostly Cal and Stanford) was short-sighted and they likely rejected OSU instead of doing the smart play and adding both Oklahoma schools and then offering Rice and UT to make it "academically tolerable". (If UT said no, the PAC could add TCU and protect Oklahoma's recruiting while gaining DFW and Houston media access.  This progression would pretty much have UT and Kansas either joining Nebraska --- which priniciples at UT hate for winning realignment by walking out on UT ---in the Big 10 or following their ally OU to the PAC-12.)

Look....those were three serious attempts to leave the Big 12 in the last 5 years.
If things do not change, OU won't stop trying to escape until they get out.   It is entirely likely that OU is living their worst case scenario today.  They have lost some of their best rivals in Nebraska, Missouri, and Colorado.  They are in a conference that is not going to be of any use to them in their pursuit of AAU admission and with the ascension of A&M and the new golden age of coaching in the PAC-12, they have lost supplemental recruiting handholds in Houston and California respectively.   OU cannot recruit at a contending level in today's Big 12.   And UT is pushing their other allies to try to hold the lid on expansion.

The other Big 12 schools need to wake up and realize that backing OU over UT is by far the better long-term play.

3) BYU is not the best candidate for a power conference not already in a power conference.

It isn't even close.
When you look at their academics, athletics, and fan support, BYU is probably about the 20th to 30th most valuable program in the entire FBS ranks. 
You would be had pressed to list 5 more valuable programs in each of the 5 power conferences. 

Try it.

You really can't.

That means they are BETTER than at least half of the programs already in the power conferences.
They absolutely merit being in a power conference.
You can't say the same about Memphis or Cincinnati or anyone else out there.
And the reality is that BYU is probably a lot more valuable than most measurement suggest. 

BYU isn't in a BCS conference because BYU's religious interference with research is not something the PAC-12 or Big Ten will tolerate and the Big 12 already has a headache school in UT with whom they have to make concessions.  Adding BYU has the potential to make Texas worse, so BYU is on the outside of the power conference ranks looking in.

It isn't about anything else.

It isn't about not playing on Sunday.  TV has the NFL on Sunday.  Putting BYU in the Big 12 still gives the networks the opportunity to put all the other Big 12 brands on TV on Sunday. The "sunday issue" is more of an annoyance than a cost.

It isn't even about BYU being a religious school.

It's all about research.  The B1G and the PAC love research schools.  Private Universities tend to do less research. Religious privates tend to do even less.  BYU has actively chosen to be on the low end of even that scale.
It is like BYU has put up the finger to doing research.  They will never get into the PAC-12 or Big Ten.

There is chatter that BYU has turned off a lot of Big 12 schools as the parties negotiate. You need votes to get in. That is entirely possible. BYU may consider themselves more entitled to getting their concessions than Big 12 schools may think. I am sure a number of Big 12 schools are tired of dealing with entitled members.

Frankly, BYU is reading it right in assuming they have the leverage.  The Big 12 needs BYU far more than BYU needs the Big 12.  BYU can afford to bleed out for a decade. When OU and Kansas leave and UT follows, the remaining Big 12 schools will give BYU everything it wants to lure them in, lest BYU cherry pick them, the MWC, and the American for a new conference.

UT, Kansas, and OU are the only hurdles preventing BYU from building a new power conference-ish WAC that BYU rules.   You think SDSU, Boise State, Utah State, UNLV, CSU, Air Force, Wyoming, and UNM wouldn't jump at a chance to dump the rest of the MWC?   Do you think five out of Houston, ISU, KSU, OSU, Tech, and TCU wouldn't be receptive to joining BYU in that group at that point?  Baylor, and WVU could be on the outside looking in.

But, BYU wants to be in a power conference. The only guaranteed way to make it happen is to eat crow and go to the Big 12 with hat in hand.   Tell the Big 12, BYU's only caveat is to not play on Sundays and other than that BYU will tow the company line.

It is a win-win scenario if egos can be parked at the door.

BYU isn't the cure for what ails the Big 12, but adding BYU is the smart play for the bottom of the BIG 12 membership (Baylor, ISU, KSU, OSU, Tech).  Secure BYU on the terms the Big 12 can live with today as part of a solution that delivers both financial value ...and as an insurance plan for today's members should OU leave.
As I covered in the Big12 expansion series, BYU could be part of a solution for the Big 12, but I am not holding my breath on the principles on each side seeing the bigger picture.

4) Boise State is a viable power conference candidate.

No, academically Boise State is the poster child of why academics matter to university presidents in expansion discussions.  

Boise State used to be a junior college.  No power conference school wants their university to be seen as a peer to a former JUCO.

The US News rankings divides universities into two categories:  National Universities and Regional Universities.  A National University tend to award doctorates and Regionals tend not to.  In general, National Universities are more widely respected overall, but a top Regional University will offer more valuable undergraduate degrees than a mid-level National University.
Almost every power conference school is a National University ranked in the top 150 or so.
Boise State is ranked tied for 61st among western regional universities.
"Western regional universities?" You may ask.  Yes.
Regional universities are grouped in one of four regions of the country. So it is like saying Boise State is ranked 246th in a less prestigious university category.

No power conference is desperate enough for the limited value Boise State football brings to the table to take the academic black eye to admit them.   Power conference members make at least $20-25 Million a year from TV.   Boise doesn't bring that kind of value, so why would a conference overlook their academics?
Boise is a very small media market.  Idaho is a low population state. BSU's TV value is as a weaker national brand due to TV curiosity.
BSU's brand is being "the school that is unfairly left out". Unlike predecessors in that role TCU (DFW market) or Louisville (Rick Pitino basketball) or successors Cincinnati (strong basketball, good market, snowbound statewide following in large state with literally nothing better to do than watch football) or Memphis (strong basketball, new facilities on the way, good market, statewide following in large state, Great recruiting area), that identity is all the value BSU possesses.

Boise State is a one trick pony and that trick may lose all resonance at the power conference level.

On the non-power conference tier, where school TV shares top out at $2 Million a year, Boise State's football value is pronounced and has proven capable of giving them access to any conference they want.
Not so much at the power conference level.
The only possible way I see for Boise State to get into a power conference is if a wounded Big 12 ---lead by BYU--- that is still considered power conference-level (I am not even sure if such a thing is possible) took in Boise State at the instruction of BYU.
That kind of conference might be pulling in TV checks in the $5-15 million ballpark.  Boise State might measure up there and BYU needs a good sidekick to replace Utah.  Boise is Mormon country.
I think there is a very good chance such a conference would merely inherit the limbo realm between tiers where the MWC with Utah and BYU used to operate, rather than being acknowledged as a power conference. Boise's brand is maximized there.
There are even problems with this scenario.
Does BYU even want to do that?  The whole point of BYU leaving the MWC for independent status was so BYU could manage the black eye of getting passed over for Utah by the power conferences.  It is a weak "separate but equal" argument ---but it is all BYU has at this point!
Is there a reason that would be compelling to BYU leadership for BYU to be in a non-power conference? ...

5) Houston offers no value to the Big 12.

Totally wrong.  Houston's value is recruiting based.  Houston to the Big 12 is Aggie Kryptonite and as such should be on the Big 12 short list. 

As a football-only member.

Houston is not going to ever get voted in by any of the four healthy power conferences.  The city for some insane reason allowed the Rockets and Texans to put their operations right next door to UH and as such UH will have attendance problems for the foreseeable future.  (Something that hacks me off to no end as I grew up a big Phi Slamma Jamma fan.)

Their academics are just worse than West Virginia's --- the lowest ranked school in the power conference ranks. 

I have touched on this in the Big 12 series,  adding UH football has immense value for the Big 12 because TAMU recruiting is killing the Big 2.  UH has a very large alumni base, the vast majority of it in the Houston DMA.  Add that to the various Big 12 fanbases down there, and it turns Houston into Big 12 country first.  Adding Houston football gives the Big 12 a platform in the Houston DMA to promote their brands.  That will hobble A&M's recruiting. If A&M cannot recruit like they are today, they cannot compete in the SEC West.  Hello 6-6.

And the Aggies can't do a damned thing about it.  If I sound giddy at the prospect, it is because I am.  I was very happy with the idea of Texas, Tech, and A&M going to PAC in 2010 and all those research dollars and angel investor dollars flowing from high tax California into low tax Texas, creating tons and tons of high paying jobs for Texans (!!!!)....  But DeLoss Dodds had to be an ass and the Aggies "just had to get into the SEC!"

Neither one is on my Christmas list.

(I know I should probably let it go as the Aggies have to realize that joining the SEC instead of the PAC likely cost them a national title in 2012. That should be punishment enough.)

To my way of thinking TAMU put their football program before the good of the state of Texas. They sold us out to be a conference outlier.  So as far as I am concerned "why being a conference outlier sucks" is a great lesson for the Big 12 to teach departing schools.

UH is not compelling enough to ever get voted in by the SEC.  Additionally, the SEC  expansion philosophy is to add a single school from a new state.  They already have TAMU, so they already have Texas.   It is already an uphill battle to add a second school from Texas....The SEC is never going to add a football only member who cannot hold their own in football.  The SEC is not likely to ever add a football only member at all.  Is the SEC really going to add the worst academically of all the viable Texas candidates as an all sports member?  Just to protect A&M's recruiting?  Good luck there TAMU.

Sigh...UH probably won't get into either conference, but a man can dream, can't he?

6) Memphis is a great play for the Big 12.

Academically, they are not even in the top 200 of National Universities.  They are lower ranked than Houston. You will have to break UT's teeth,  pry it's mouth open, and force Memphis down UT's throat. Do you really want to do that...for Memphis?

Don't get me wrong.  Memphis has some nice attributes.  I love the location in recruiting terms.  I think a Memphis addition would help all of the Northern teams in the Big 12. As a former USFL fan, I like the idea of a majorly successful football program in the city of Memphis and I think it is very possible, but I am wary of Memphis.

Big time. 

Memphis used to have an elite collegiate basketball coach.  He left years ago and since then their attendance has trended downwards. That is not surprising.  When an NBA team is competing for fan dollars with a collegiate team, you almost always see the attendance of the collegiate team collapse.  Frankly the Tigers have held on longer than I thought they would.

Coaching is playing a role.  New coach Josh Pastner can recruit, but he cannot retain his talent.  That is a HUGE problem for Pastner.  I think he is in trouble.

In football, after years and years of missing, Memphis struck gold Unobtainium with Justin Fuente.  He clearly has the same knack for coaching talent up that his mentor TCU head coach Gary Patterson has.  He is the hottest name in college football.

Does anyone think Fuente will be at Memphis next year?   If I am Tennessee, he's my guy.  Butch Jones is a nice man who has done right by Tennessee in building an impressive level of talent, but he can't seem to win games.   I am normally inclined to wait a year too long, but if I am a Tennessee booster, I cannot ignore the guy next door who is beating talent-loaded top 25 SEC teams with FBS 80-90 level talent.  What would Fuentes' record be with Jones's talent?

I am looking at Memphis and no doubt I am impressed that new facilities are in the pipeline, but judging them as an applicant I am also thinking, 2 coaching changes in both revenue sports = non-competitive teams for the first 4 years they are in the Big 12.

Too many red flags.  Fool's gold.

To me you let them build the facilities and get their house in order against weaker competition and then re-evaluate them in 4 years...

7) UCF is worthy, but USF certainly is not.

Hot garbage.  Years ago USF fans were saying the same about UCF when the golden knights were angling for a Big East invite.  "They fake their attendance counts" USF fans screamed.

Don't listen to the noise. They are the same damned candidate.

USF was very, very good in football a few years back and UCF was mediocre. Last year USF was pretty bad and UCF was pretty good.  Now UCF is 0-7 and USF is 3-3.

The funny thing is that they can both recruit very well for non-power conference schools.  (Ordinarily the non-power conference schools start at about 63 or so.)  Here are their recruiting finishes for the last 4 years.

recruiting class rank (out of 128)
2012 2013 2014 2015
55 49 43 69
2012 2013 2014 2015
100 82 61 71

Since UCF moved up to the American, they are recruiting a lot like USF, but it doesn't appear to have hurt USF.  That is not surprising.  Florida produced 306 three star or better recruits last year.  The state's seven FBS schools only have scholarships for  about 165 of them each year.  At the American level both schools should be able to roll out of bed and have a recruiting class packed with Florida 3 stars.   That would only improve in the Big 12.

UCF has their own on campus 45,000 seat stadium.  USF slums it in the NFL Buc's Raymond James stadium 14 miles away.  Big advantage UCF.

USF does about $330 Million in annual research, something UT's leadership would appreciate. UCF does $108M.  Big advantage USF.

Other than that? Same damned candidate.  Valuable developing football commodity with strong TV potential; moderate basketball.

8) BYU has already maxxed out.

This is a shit-ball crazy concept that BYU haters have pushed to support their line of thinking.

Total Fucking Bullshit.  I have no vested interest in BYU, but this is an unsupportable smear campaign.

BYU saw their little brother Utah picked for the Pac-12 over the Cougars.  Utah is about 60% of what BYU is...with one exception. Research.  From the PAC perspective, BYU doesn't give a crap about research and Utah does.

With Utah in a power conference, BYU felt there was no way they could stay in a non-power conference.  They only have two potential suitors among the power conference ranks: the PAC and the Big 12.  The PAC has decided to make their bed with Utah and the Big 12 decided that they didn't need another entitled school.

So BYU went independent.

And it is killing them.

Without local schools to play off, BYU's fans are unmotivated once BYU loses a game and is eliminated from the playoffs.   Attendance has dropped off.

That does not mean BYU has maxxed out.  Just the opposite.  If BYU was a stock, I'd be buying low right now with my entire 401K. (And for the record, I bought Marvel stocks at 25 cents a share.)

The WAC's Utah Valley University is very close to BYU and used to be a JUCO that fed BYU. A lot of student ties there. UVU does not play football. BYU is 30,000, UVU is 34,000.

BYU has not had a more powerful member in their conference since the 1970's when Arizona State left. IMO that has stunted their growth.  Their foray into independence has further stunted their growth.
Moving to a power conference would do just the opposite. 

With UT and OU potentially visiting in-conference, a $25 Million annual TV check, and the LDS’s desire to stick it to the PAC-12 and the fans of the University of Utah, I would not be surprised to see BYU evolve into 90-100K stadium football king.
That is a big score.
It would happen much faster with a few more of BYU's traditional rivals in the mix.

9) Cincinnati offers great recruiting to the Big 12.

I have covered this in great detail in the Big 12 expansion thread.  For recruiting to be valuable, it has to be mineable.  For the Big 12, with the exception of Cinci and West Virginia, it would not be.

I do want to reiterate that Cinci offers a lot of valuable attributes especially research that frankly keep them borderline for me.   Their academics are grit your teeth tolerable, like San Diego State's.

Cinci has weak statewide following that is frequently snowbound with nothing better to do than to watch football on TV in a pretty big population state.  The trouble is, is that better than the potential at SDSU or the Florida giants?

If  the Big 12 is just going to do a BS, time-wasting, 2 team expansion, then why not add Cinci?  They have very good attributes.

But if you are going to try to execute an expansion to save the conference, you have to carefully spend your slots.  Cinci to me is a "tuck away for later" candidate, like Memphis.

10) Colorado State is a poor play for the Big 12.

On the contrary, like BYU, CSU is a buy now stock.  They are a strong number 2 school in a medium sized state where the #1 has forgotten how to compete.   They are building a 40,000 seat on campus stadium with supporting facilities (apparently out of pure gold) at a price of only $200+Million.

Look.  The stadium is too small.  Yeah. But when you are rebuilding a fan base you need to be able to generate ticket scarcity.  The stadium is expandable and all things considered, 40,000 is OK for today.  CSU's fan attendance eroded from about 29K at their old stadium.  They will pick up at about 30K in the MWC.   If they land in the Big 12 (likely as a travel partner to BYU) their attendance will grow quickly based on their schedule and they might expand by 2024 or so.

Consider their in conference schedule would likely be West Virginia, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, BYU and 4 teams from the Texas division leaving them free to play the OOC foes they want to play.  I would not be surprised to see them continue to play rivals Colorado, Wyoming, and Air Force as their OOC schedule.  UNM, Utah, and Utah State are potential opponents too. Picking up a 13th game against former WAC rival Hawaii would be a smart play.

That is about as fan friendly of a schedule as a school wanting to rebuild attendance could see.

In the interim, they will be able to recruit much better than they have in the past with that complex (and potentially a Big 12 invite).

Fans have to understand in evaluating CSU, it is like evaluating UNT in the last days at Fouts Field.   In both situations you are trying to evaluate a program that was playing in the absolute worst stadium situation in the FBS ranks.  That kills recruiting and attendance and really makes it almost impossible to evaluate what they will be based on what they were prior to the new stadium.

What we do know looks good. Their basketball is tourney level and is run by a coach with a spotty past who is not likely to get hired away.  This is a very good situation.

They are ranked 127th academically among National Universities.  Unlike most Big 12 candidates, CSU is not in academic foul territory.

They do about $291 Million in annual research, which isn't bad at all.

They are located in the dead center of the Denver DMA and their alumni tend to stay in state.  That is great in TV terms.

BYU used to have a group they maintained called the "Gang of 5" that controlled the MWC.  It was BYU, Utah, Air Force, Wyoming, and CSU that delivered the Denver and SLC DMAs.  BYU and CSU would give the Big 12 most of that.

They are a very, very solid candidate --- especially partnered with BYU which also has fans in Colorado.

11) The Florida Giants are too far away to be part of the Big 12

The state of Florida has a population of 21 million.  Adding both USF and UCF as football-only members would deliver you statewide football TV viewership in Florida at the cost of 4 current Big 12 schools making one flight to Florida a year.

You really cannot afford that?

Florida has 3 of the nation's top 25 media markets. UCF and USF are located in 2 of them.

They are 2 of the 10 largest universities in the country.   Their academics are not elite and their mission is local service, so most of their alumni are in those DMAs.

They are great TV candidates for this reason.

I would not champion both as all-sports members as their basketball programs would be a drag on the Big 12 (even though Orlando is a great recruiting town for basketball talent), but if a decision was made to add both schools as all-sports members, again you would be talking about 4 schools in their division making a single flight to Florida in each sports.

I am fairly sure that won't bankrupt the University of Kansas.

12) FSU and Clemson are pipe dreams for the Big 12

Lets be clear.  No one is bailing on the ACC in the next decade and paying that fee.   But come 2023 or so...would those schools listen to a move in a few years?  Possibly.  It depends on the makeup of the Big 12 making the offer.

There is a lot of frustration there.

Clay Travis of "outkick the coverage" confirmed what a lot of us suspected, that Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Clemson are blocked from SEC inclusion by a pact between Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.   Given their location, they are effectively trapped in the ACC.

Now the ACC is not that bad of a conference to be trapped in, but trapped is trapped. No one likes feeling that way, especially if you are a fan or booster and the perception is that the SEC's block puts you in a lesser recruiting position.

FSU is in a situation a lot like OU.  They feel their conference is holding back their football program.  And they resent feeling like a pawn to UNC and Duke rather than the football king they are.

Clemson feels the same way, but they are frequently undervalued in expansion talks.

Miami is a little Jeckyl and Hyde right now, but if FSU left they would strongly consider going with them.  Miami used to pull fan support from NYC and supplemental recruits from areas like Dallas. Joining the Big 12 would do a lot to restore Miami's national brand.

This trio in particular share the Big 12's likely desire to stick it to the SEC.

Georgia Tech would have no desire to go, but if their whole football neighborhood evaporated overnight, they would strongly consider jumping to the Big 12 too.  Georgia is a hella good recruiting territory for a 10 Million population state.

(And frankly should GT pass, Louisville would strongly consider the fourth spot in spite of the fact that the ACC is academic gold and a conference that Louisville has no academic right to be in.  The knowledge that Louisville might take that slot and that the Big 12 doesn't make strong expansion decisions might be enough to spur GT to take the offer.)

The buttons are there to be pushed IF 1) the Big 12 is stable and equitable and 2) the fundamentals of the conference are similar to the ACC's by 2023.

Such a move would likely put the SEC schools at a recruiting competitive disadvantage for once.   FSU and Clemson would tolerate some change for that.

I have no doubt any competent commissioner could rip the football heart out of the ACC armed with a boldly expanded Big 12 footprint... Or even just a much stronger footprint...but not with today's Big 12.

To have any shot at that foursome, the Big 12 needs a lot of TV households.  They don't have that today.


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  2. Someone on a UH forum posted how UH compares to the Big 12 in 34 different World and US University rankings, and UH would fall in the top have of the big 12 in all but 5, and is last in only 1 ranking (the only of these 34 that you chose to use). Point being, I think you are giving far too little credit to the academics at UH, it would in reality fall in the middle of the pack in the Big 12.

    See the compiled listing from 34 different rankings, all of which have links to validate the stated numbers:

    1. I think I am perceived as a little bit of a UH hater. Totally untrue. When I applied to colleges I applied to UT, Houston, and Rice. (My grades weren't quite good enough for Stanford otherwise they'd have been application #4.)

      Houston was my "definitely can get in" school and I'd have been quite happy to attend as I was a huge Phi Slamma Jamma fan, but that doesn't change the fact that academically they don't compare well to power conference schools.

      I totally could seek out other rankings that part out the university by department and rank several of those departments at very respectable levels. I don't because that is what people advocating Houston would do --- not what people evaluating them would do. People evaluating them would seek to simplify the process by putting them on a platform that evaluates the university as a whole against others as fairly as possible.

      I use the US News cumulative rankings even though everyone hates them and research totals because they happen to line up almost exactly with power conference and non-power conference divisions. That tells me they are probably a fair ruler in the discussions about realignment.

  3. I agree with pretty much everything here, except there are still a few lingering misconceptions about the various "motivations" inside the halls of ACC headquarters (as a Clemson fan/alum living in North Carolina I guess this is something I may know a little about). First, the idea that UNC and Duke somehow control all major decisions within the conference was a legitimate concern...15 years ago. That has never really been the case since the ACC's initial expansion back in 2003. UNC and Duke did everything they could to drag their feet and botch expansion. Even after their initial efforts failed, and the then-nine presidents voted 7-2 in favor of expansion (Miami, BC and Syracuse), UNC and Duke decided to take advantage of political pressures in Virginia by coercing UVA into changing its vote after-the-fact. Ultimately, this backfired because, instead of blocking expansion, the ACC was stuck with two new schools (Miami and VaTech). And from everyone's perspective (including those at basketball-driven Duke and UNC), 12 schools was going to be preferable to 11 (thus, the vote to add BC as a 12th school was unanimous when it eventually happened less than a year later). John Swofford may have been a UNC guy, but he has consistently advocated changes that were contrary to UNC's best interest (although perhaps in the best interest of the ACC as a whole). If UNC knew then what they know now, I 100% guarantee they would have blocked Swofford from getting the job. Perhaps the biggest change was the decision to move the men's basketball tournament to places outside of the State of North Carolina (prior to 2005 I traveled to Atlanta roughly one per decade and that was it). UNC and Duke fans still complain CONSTANTLY about this to anyone who will listen. The philosophical change represented by adding Notre Dame as a non-football member was another example of going against the ACC's "Old Guard." And then of course there was Louisville. When the decision came down to vote on Louisville, all media reports I saw said there were (yet again) only two votes holding them back. Those two schools decided to abstain at the last minute (once the writing was on the wall) so that the invitation would appear unanimous. Sure, it is at least possible that UVA could have been one of those two votes instead, but I doubt it given the track record (UVa perhaps more than any other ACC member has never felt like a "pawn" next to UNC and Duke...probably due to the fact that their own ego would prevent them from noticing whether they were being treated like a pawn in the first place. If Clemson or FSU feel slighted in anyway, it is not because of anything going on in Chapel Hill or Durham. It has far more to do with the ACC's existing television contracts. At the time, it gave the conference financial stability (especially after Maryland left). But, now it has become the biggest (if not only) major obstacle to the conference starting its own cable network. ESPN has no incentive whatsoever--I mean ZERO PERCENT--in starting-up yet another new network. Especially now, given its decreasing market share . But it has plenty of good reasons to block the ACC from partnering with someone else (Fox or Comcast for example) in order to start a competing network. Something will have to budge before the end of the existing ESPN deal in 2023.

    1. Chuck, thank you for this post. You are absolutely correct on all of this. You have summed it up far better than I did, but I will stick by my guns in saying that the ACC football kings feel more like they are considered peers in that conference.

      But you make another fine point about the TV deal. If memory serves their deal includes some or all of their tier three rights, but their payout is in line with other conferences teir 1&2 rights. It could totally be the trigger that implodes the conference down the road.

  4. Completely agree with almost everything here, and you added some new insights I hadn't considered. I didn't realize BYU was such a strong candidate. So...what's stopping the B12 from acting? What's the inertia all about? Does it not make sense in terms of revenue? Are they waiting on a CCG possibility in FB?

    Do non-FB and BB sports matter here, or do they drive the horse? I don't know much about any of the programs, but it seems BYU is great in Olympic sports (beat my Longhorns in W VB, always in the NCAA tournament in BB). It seems like Cinci would be decent in other sports, but Memphis, UH, CSU, UCF, and USF would all be pretty bad in those areas.

    1. There is a lot of smoke that BYU rubs the Big 12 membership the wrong way. Maybe if we didn't already have a headache in UT the membership would feel different.

      As I stated in the Big 12 expansion articles, unlike maybe most Big 12 fans, I'd be totally willing to add 3 or up to a total of 6 schools in the west to get the best possible versions of SDSU and BYU. I think you could have two future kings there if the supporting schools are around them.

      Cinnci, Memphis, Houston, UCF, USF, etc. are not going to be kings in the next 20 years.

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  5. In a broad sense, can you explain why in the hell academics are such a big deal? These are ATHLETIC conferences. I seriously don't understand why teams are snubbed because they don't meet the "academic freedom" profile like BYU get snubbed. And why did West Virginia get accepted when they are far away, not that great in athletics, and the worst in academics among all P5 teams? I wish the B12 would get in gear and take the best athletic programs to bolster the conference.

    1. Well, power conferences run the gamut. sadly geography screws BYU. If BYU was in the east, I suspect they would have been happily sucked up by the ACC if not the SEC ages ago.

      A poster I read a while back made an interesting point. He said conferences who are in a strong position only add schools that they want. Other conferences add who they can tolerate.

      It is maddening to some degree, isn't it? I think realignment CW is basically something that has taken on a life of it's own.

      Conferences form, then they bring in candidates who reflect their general quality or bring some perceived added value. When the value stops being there...ex. the SuperWAC, the SWC, The Big East, The WAC...members tend to look to bail on each other first so they won't be the last one in the boat rather than try to rebuild.

      What you end up with is that conferences who "make the right decisions" in expansion stay together and those who don't collapse.

      There starts to be an internal pressure by conference decision makers to maintain standards to avoid making the wrong decisions.

      Sometimes that in itself leads to the wrong decisions! (I am writing an article on the Big 14 currently that will hit on this last thing.)

      The West Virginia addition is the perfect example of to me one of the only real rules of realignment. The school that gets added may not be the best candidate---it is the candidate with the votes the day the members decide expansion has to happen.

      On your last point, you and me both!

  6. I agree with most of what was said....BYU would a great addition to the Big12. I attend all BYU home games and when we played Texas 2 years ago we sat by some really nice people from Texas. They were great and we talked about getting BYU into the Big12. They were confused as to why the league was dragging their feet about adding them. I know most BYU fans would love to be in the Big12 and I think they could compete. They bring a national following, good programs, state of the art television facilities, solid history and really want to be there. I would love it if BYU was invited along with Boise St or CSU. To me it makes sense!

    1. I think BYU should have been in from Day 1, but that is just my opinion. Any time you can get a maybe king, you should.

  7. The most sense for the Big 12 right now is to expand to 14 and become the Big 14. You do that by inviting BYU, Cincinnati, Colorado State & Rice (Yes, Rice.). It works under the academics part for the Big 12 and they add the Mountain Time Zone to their TV packages plus another AAU university in Rice which has a stellar baseball program plus attracts an athlete in the likes of Northwestern, Stanford & Vanderbilt.

    It also solves the problem of UT along with A&M not wanting UH in a Power 5 Conference, the schools wouldn't blink at the addition of Rice plus it adds a different type of prestige and recruiting to the Big 12 fold.

    By making this move they also only pluck an Independent, American Athletic, Mountain West & Conference USA member and that is a good move on the Big 12's part because it doesn't cause instability in other conferences.

    UMass can move to the AAC, Idaho to the MWC and New Mexico State to CUSA. It's quite a simple move for everyone involved and I'm sure the Big 12 can get those 4 schools to take a discounted rate like TCU & West Virginia did when they joined over the course of 5 seasons.

    The remaining members get more money over time with the move, more inventory and a conference championship game. It's a smart move overall for the Big 12 and that's what they should be looking into by adding BYU, Cincinnati, Colorado State & Rice.

    1. It's a good scenario, but Rice has some love/hate relationships among the old SWC schools. They would all love an athletic affiliation with Rice, but older boosters remember playing in front of sub 20,000 crowds in Houston the SWC.

      I have never been able to totally dismiss Rice. I read a wonderfully compelling point by someone recently. Every power conference has one elite private academic school except the Big 12. Pac (Stanford), Big Ten (Northwestern), SEC (Vandy), ACC (Duke & ND).

      Baylor and TCU are nice, but not in the same neighborhood.

      The trouble with Rice is that they only have 4000 undergrads, 44,000 living alumni and they are right down the street from UH, the Texans, and the Rockets. Their attendance will always be suspect. Can you reward that?

      Like I said, I go back and forth on Rice.

      It is funny that the three universities I am probably toughest on are the three I applied to. :)

      It is not at all a given that the AAC would add UMASS. They may get blocked by UConn. It is very possible the MWC would be more likely to pursue Montana than Idaho. I don't love it but I could see it. It is very unlikely that CUSA would pull in NMSU. UTEP would block them to protect their football recruiting advantage in El Paso. I would think either Texas State or a Georgia School (G so.?) would get the call.

      Your expansion adds 19 million to the footprint ...which doesn't suck. It brings the conference up to 57 Million. Still behind the PAC, but in the same ballpark.

      To me, if you go to 14, it is smarter to go to a 14/16 with UIC and St. Louis as they bring some TV and basketball value at a very cheap cost at a combined $16 Million a year. TV would totally sign off on that to add another 19 Million to the footprint.

    2. ....I forget to say this...Given that the decision makers are far, far more conservative than me in their views on realignment, your plan is far more likely to be embraced than mine. :)