Monday, November 19, 2012

Who's next?

Maryland is in. Rutgers is coming, perhaps as soon as tomorrow. Who's next to join Jim Delany's pajama party? Here are my guesses:

Georgia Tech: If you are looking at what animates the Big Ten, Georgia Tech has a lot to offer. It's in a major media market (Atlanta), it has a good if somewhat quirky football history and it's academically solid (a member of the AAU). My guess is that Georgia Tech will be in demand from both the Big Ten and the SEC. Strangely enough, GT might be a better fit in the Big Ten. It's long played the Georgias and Alabamas of the world, but it's not the same kind of school. I would expect this to be a top priority for Delany & co.

Virginia: There would be a lot of support for adding Mr. Jefferson's university to the Big Ten, since it is one of the premier schools in the country. They have had some success in football as well, although they don't bring as much to the party as Georgia Tech would. The thing that makes this choice unlikely is that Virginia politics would likely try to force a two-school parlay with UVa and Virginia Tech. I am certain that the Big Ten would have no use for adding Virginia Tech, however.

North Carolina: The perfect parlay with UVa, but not as likely. The Tar Heels have been a good football program and they would absolutely make a huge impact in basketball, but they wouldn't want to leave their many rivalries in the ACC. If the ACC implodes, they might show up as part of a 20-team megaconference, but otherwise don't expect them to arrive in the conference any time soon. They also bring a lot of eyeballs, though, which is a big factor.

Kansas: Academically a good fit and would bring some eyeballs in Kansas City, but has nothing to offer as a football program. This would seem to be a fallback option if other more desirable teams were unavailable. Really a basketball school and since football drives the bus, this seems less likely.

Notre Dame: An interesting scenario. They cast their lot with the ACC in all sports except football, but if the ACC implodes, they'll need a place to go. At this point, their only option might be the Big Ten. They don't want it and I think the Big Ten is tired of ND's rejections by now, but circumstances might dictate a change of heart for everyone. Eventually ND may find that they can't be an independent any longer and if that happens, the Big Ten might be the only choice remaining.

Texas: The holy grail and the ultimate darkhorse candidate. Texas offers everything -- a great football tradition and program, institutional strength and tons of eyeballs. What works against it:  Nebraska left the Big XII to get away from Texas, and the Longhorns have their own television network, so they would likely want a king's ransom to join. But if the Big XII implodes, they would be the one team everyone would want. I expect the SEC to make a play for them as well if that happens.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?


J. Peterson said...

I think that Kansas can be removed from the list. They are tied to Kansas State by the State of Kansas. Where KU goes they will have to make sure that KSU is welcome as well

Night Writer said...

Well, if North Carolina comes in it will be harder for Jerry Kill not to play them.

I'm wondering if Notre Dame becomes more or less appealing if it wins the national championship this year. They'd have extra leverage for dictating their terms, and their success might bother some of the other "name" schools in the conference.

Brian said...

Speaking as an alumnus of Georgia Tech, the prospect of moving to the Big N is something about which I am deeply ambivalent, from Tech's POV. Specifically, I wonder whether the increased national exposure and consistently better opponents would increase the quality of recruits and football, or if we would be doomed to be the conference's Vanderbilt.

I think for the conference, though, it is a slam dunk, because of the size of the Atlanta TV market. That said, don't overestimate that: for every GT fan in GA there are about 10 UGA fans who would probably watch any SEC game over a Tech game. We're a small school, hard to get in to (and even harder to get out of), and alumni tend to scatter to the four winds.

I'd love to think that Tech could hang in the SEC, but I really don't think we would. And culturally, we are a very different school than they are. I think we'd struggle in the Big N as well, but for some reason that bothers me less.

Mr. D said...

I don’t really know the relationships well, but my impression has always been that GT would be at best an uneasy fit in the SEC, for the reasons you’ve stated, Brian. UGA would get a lot more fans, but academically it’s not a fit for the Big Ten and that does matter at least a little bit. GT is an AAU member and that makes a big difference. You’ll note that all the schools I listed (other than ND) are also AAU. While this thing is about money first, academics do matter.

It’s also always been my understanding the GT is different culturally than, say, Vandy, Tulane or even Rice, which is why it could work in the Big Ten. The school most like GT that’s already in the Big Ten is Purdue and they’ve done just fine for over 100 years now. From what I’ve seen of GT in football and basketball, they’ll be able to compete in the Big Ten.

If I had to guess, I think when this is all done the Big Ten could be a 20-team league in two divisions. I could see the ACC imploding and the Big Ten adding UVa, Carolina, Duke, N.C. State and maybe Notre Dame. Essentially it would be the ACC under new management. Wake Forest would be the odd team out and Clemson, Va Tech and Florida State would go to the SEC, where they really belong anyway.

First Ringer said...

I would think a move further south would benefit the B10.

Moving East may mean more eye and thus advertising dollars, but college football isn't necessarily big business there.

Texas wouldn't join "someone else's" conference, but I think you could poach a Baylor, Texas Tech, Texas A&M or similar schools. That would plant a flag-pole for the B10 in the recruiting heart of the country and set the stage for the B10 swallowing the old Big 12.

Although at some point, you simply can't keep expanding. A 16-team conference is downright awkward; at least the way the B10 is currently configured.

Brian said...

I think the best way I can describe Tech is that it is a hybrid between a big state university (though it is an Institute, not a University, it is often and emphatically pointed out) and a more nationally (and increasingly internationally) focused science and engineering school like Cal Tech or MIT. (Yes, Purdue is probably a good point of comparison.)

There is definitely an element of the whole southern football tradition with intense rivalries and all of that, but I think that has really given way to a more global outlook in the last few decades.

I think your assessment of where the ACC schools ought to go in the event of the ACC's demise is spot on.

Mr. D said...

Good analysis, FR -- I'll do another post about this topic, perhaps this evening.

Mr. D said...

I think the best way I can describe Tech is that it is a hybrid between a big state university (though it is an Institute, not a University, it is often and emphatically pointed out) and a more nationally (and increasingly internationally) focused science and engineering school like Cal Tech or MIT. (Yes, Purdue is probably a good point of comparison.)

Purdue is the closest school I can think of that way -- Va Tech and Texas Tech are good schools, but from what I know about these things, they aren't of the same caliber as GT. Purdue is an interesting case, especially since its existence allows IU to be much more of a liberal arts school than most state universities are. Georgia is fortunate to have GT, although my impression has always been that GT's existence has allowed UGA to slack off somewhat in academics. That's what I've been told, at least.

Brian said...

I just spent the weekend with my closest friends from GT, so this is really fresh on my mind...

One of my buddies from GT spent a few years as an instructor at VA Tech, and in his words, "it ought to be called VA State."

TX Tech is interesting (I have several friends on faculty at the Pharmacy school there) because they have a multiple campuses and much more diverse portfolio of programs.

Interestingly, GA Tech is prevented by state law from having any degree programs that would compete with UGA. (There is some overlap, such as in the basic science departments that are requisite for an engineering school.) This is why it isn't a "university". English degrees, for example. Really, nothing in what would be easily recognizable as the humanities at all, though since the 90's they've tried to make an end run around that with things like "Science, Technology, and Culture", and "History of Science and Engineering", for example.

When I was there (mid to late 90's) the easiest degree program was Management. And even those guys had to take three quarters of calculus.

I don't think UGA is too slack on academics, so much as they have more programs including those that are just by their nature less taxing than anything offered at Tech.

But don't tell them I said that.

Mr. D said...

But don't tell them I said that.

Hush hush all the way....