Let's start at the top of the realignment pecking order.
1) The Big Ten.
The Big Ten has all the money. Their TV negotiations look to deliver TV payouts in the $40M per school annual range. (For perspective if we look at the current year's payouts on the escalating scales used for conference TV, ACC schools are pulling about $16M today and the Big 12 only slightly more).
They are Scrooge McDuck/Richie Rich-rich.
And they are letting people know.
They would like to pay schools like UT, OU, UNC, Duke, Notre Dame, etc. to be their
Strangely, their targets are somewhat resistant at this point and have actually begun looking at possibilities to save their current conferences. (Very out of character...)
2) The SEC
If the Big Ten is Richie Rich, the SEC is Richie's scheming and envious cousin Reggie.
The SEC hit the gold mine when they landed Texas A&M and they fully realize they are living a charmed existence. They aren't trying to be #1 in revenue, they just want to be firmly #2 so you have to talk about the SEC and the Big Ten as a pair.
The SEC would be very content taking Virginia Tech and NC State after the Big Ten guts the ACC or OU and West Virginia if the ACC survives.
Clay Travis recently wrote an article bemoaning the thought that UT might let the Longhorn Network become a Big 12 Network and the Big 12 might expand. "There's no Profit in it!!!"
As an SEC hater, I read that as, if the Big 12 survives and the ACC survives and the PAC might be propped up by some kind of Big Ten affiliation, then there is no raise for the SEC and eventually the gap between the other 4 conferences will diminish.
Sounds like good news to me.
3) The ACC
A few days ago the ACC is rumored to have gone to ESPN with pitchforks and torches and told them to honor their commitment to create an ACC Network or prepare to get the bejeeezus sued out of you. One can imagine there may have been more --- a promise not to see ESPN ANY content from any current ACC member. This would be a heavy threat as ESPN fills a lot of network hours with ACC content.
The rumors coming from a lot of sources is that there was a reversal of position and now rather than ESPN throwing $45 M at the ACC by July 1st for essentially failing to deliver the ACCN, they will instead have a network going/announced by that date.
There is also a marginal rumor that the ACC is looking at adding Temple and UConn. I have advocated such a move in the past as it would help the northern schools to inject more quality rivals. This would also cockblock the Big 12 who is apparently quite interested in UConn in order to get a toehold in the New York City DMA.
4) The PAC
There is a lot of chatter that the Big Ten might somehow help the PAC. It would be totally within character. Could we see the Big Ten help the PAC negotiate carriage fees? Could we see Pac content on the Big Ten Network and vice-versa? Could we see ad dollars moving back and forth based on that content?
This bears watching. The Pac schools were thrilled with expansion...then they couldn't leverage it. If the Big Ten helps them leverage it, they become a threat to the Big 12 again and not a potential donor.
5) The Big 12
The latest from MHver3 is that UT and it's two
UT and the Big 12 do not seem far off on LHN to Big 12 Network conversion negotiations (from my read anyway), although UT wants to keep the "LHN" brand in Texas. OU is fighting this bullshit idea.
MHver3 says the expansion will be all sports Cincinnati and UConn and football-only BYU and UCF.
(It should be noted that no one else is saying this. Keep in mind our West Virginia leak guys are ...in West Virginia. Decisions on the Big 12 are made in Texas. As good as their sources may be for West Virginia news, you literally cannot get any farther from the decision makers than that in the Big 12. It's a little like trying to diagnose heart trouble by listening to a toenail.)
Such an expansion seems potentially sensible to OU and UT. UT and OU get BYU into the conference but don't have to play them in division every year. The other schools who don't want to mess with BYU's drama or have to schedule around sundays, can dump them easily in the future and do not have to schedule around sundays.
OU, Baylor, and WVU get Cinci in, but again, UT doesn't have to deal with them.
UT and OU get their old Big 12 South back with one notable football only exception ---one biannual recruiting trip to the heart of Florida to play UCF.
I don't like it as laid out...but I cannot deny it does make sense given the sensibilities of those involved.
Update: Well.... That didn't take long to change, illustrating my #1 rule rule of realignment --- it doesn't matter who was the odds on favorite to get in or for how long, expansion decisions are made in favor of whatever school has the required support the moment a conference decides it absolutely has to expand.
Some may ask what is the point of realignment writing if what you write is often not what ultimately occurs. I would turn that around to get you your answer and ask why readers read realignment articles? I think we all want to understand the process in advance. The point is to deconstruct the thought processes at work at member schools, so in some ways the prediction itself is not nearly as important as understanding the logic underneath it.
So our other West Virginia leak guy (Chis Lambert) has pronounced the Big 12's kumbaya moment is over and expansion is again dead for now.
He advises UT and sons are again firmly against expansion meaning that the Big 12 again cannot get the 75% of the league's votes for expansion.
He advised that in spite of that the league is laying the groundwork for expansion by selecting teams. He more or less confirmed MHver3's reported list of 4 candidates was accurate, but advises that list was so yesterday...Today the list of preferred candidates is BYU, CSU, Cinci, and UConn, but that UT has no desire to vote for them...
more to come....