Plenty of buzz is circulating about possible conference expansion as it relates to college athletics, primarily football. The Big Ten (er…11 right now) got it all started it seems, with rumors flying of teams who’ve already been invited. Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne tweeted a couple of links on Sunday that are worth reading: from David Climer of the Tennessean, and from Randy Galloway from the Star-Telegram. Also David Brandt of the Clarion Ledger touched on the subject in Sunday’s edition. Please read those and then come back here and read the rest of my thoughts.
One angle that nobody seems to be looking at this: maybe the SEC’s presence is so strong that the Big Ten is having trouble advancing quickly because they’re absolutely scared to death of what the big, bad Southeastern Conference might do in response.
Think about the scenario this way:
Regardless of what Kirk Hirbstreet (or any U. of Texas alum for that matter) tells you trust me on this…if the SEC wants to make a run at bringing Texas and Texas A&M into our conference, they can do it…period. The Big Ten knows this, and they also know (don’t miss this) that move by Slive/SEC would overwhelmingly trump anything the Big Ten could do in the near future. I don’t care if it’s 16 teams or 26 they expand to.
The mere possibility that the SEC could pull that off probably, LITERALLY, keeps Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney awake at night.
And back to the Texas issue. Texas grads and others will try and convince you that UT would never join the SEC for academic reasons. B U L L. College athletics conferences are No.1 about money, No.2 exposure/footprint, and No.3 maybe just maybe academics, and the same is true for the University of Texas. The opportunity to extend the Longhorn’s exposure and footprint east will be tempting.
Texas fans also say, “money is irrelevant in this. We already have enough so it won’t make/break the deal either way.” Again…B U L L. The SEC has enough dollar figures to throw UT’s way to get the ‘Horns to listen to a sales pitch. Once Slive’s foot is in the door with his CBS and ESPN buddies, it’ll be all over but the crying…IF that’s what Slive/SEC wants.
Lastly, Tony Barnhart of the Atlanta Journal Constitution who refers to himself as Mr. College Football (@MrCFB on twitter) writes this morning The SEC Can’t Ignore What the Big Ten Might Do. I think it’s the other way around.
The Big Ten better be careful what it does…and Delaney knows it.