16 June 2010

Utah to Pac 12. End game?

As expected the Pac10 added Utah to make a round dozen of schools to allow for a conference championship. Most folks are calling this the end of the realignment.

Not so fast (ugh, why did I write that? I hate Lee Corso).

What no one seems to be focusing on is what will be the MWC's next move now that they are back down to nine schools? Clearly they are actively seeking to be a relevant player in the college football landscape. What is their next course of action in this endeavor? Will they again raid the WAC? If so, Fresno St seems like a decent target given its CA locale. Perhaps Nevada or Idaho are targets which would get the MWC to twelve schools, a conference championship game, and potential automatic BCS invite. But, these two schools seem rather blah even by MWC standards.

Is it possible that the MWC goes all Pac10 on the college football world and tries to upset the apple cart again? If I'm the MWC, what do I have to lose from taking a flier and attempting to raid the unstable Big XII? Wouldn't it be rich if the MWC invited Texas Tech and Oklahoma State to the party and thereby solve TX's "Tech problem"? Surely these two feel like they are in no man's land between their big brothers (TX, A&M, OU) and the Big XII have-nots. It seems risky for these two schools, but they aren't upwardly mobile under the status quo and are bound to continue losing ground to big brothers. If these two don't go for the bait, maybe MO, KSU, KU, ISU, and/or Baylor would listen to the MWC's pitch.

Stay tuned as this thing ain't over yet. Let's wait and see what the MWC's next move is (and the WAC for that matter) before turning our eyes to the fall.

15 June 2010

Blue balled conference realignment

Well so much for the seismic shift in conference affiliations. Talk about anti-climatic. What a friggin tease!

With the Big XII's existence safe for now, it looks like this will only be a minor reshuffling of the conference decks. The Pac 10 may add another team (Utah), the MWC may raid the WAC again or pick up another team from elsewhere. And the WAC will need to make itself whole after losing Boise St and maybe another school.

So what happened? How did the Big XII get rescued when at the brink of extinction? A band of mysterious and unknown shadowy individuals came together to ride in on their high horses and come to the rescue. Let's call them the Nazgul as there are nine likely candidates who formed an unholy coalition to preserve the status quo.

First is first though... what did it take to maintain the status quo? Simple. Give Texas what it wants -- namely, more money and its Bevo network. A good short term fix for UT, but eventually Oklahoma and A&M are going to see they have better options to the south and east. This unstable equilibrium ain't gonna last long.

So who worked behind the scenes to use Dan Beebe as champion for the status quo? The nine Nazgul, in order from most to least motivated:

1. Notre Dame -- It is a no brainer that they were leading the race to save the Big XII. For better or worse, they will only give up independence on their death bed.
2. Texas -- there is little doubt they wanted this outcome, short-sighted as it may be.
3. Mizzou/KSU/Baylor/KU/ISU AD coalition -- these five were staring at oblivion. Desperate times call for desperate measures even if it means falling farther behind the conference haves.
4. Media execs-- This includes NBC, ABC/ESPN, CBS, and FSN (among others). All of them would lose bargaining power and hence money under major realignment.
5. BCS bowl execs coalition -- their little gravy train would've been threatened as playoffs would be a natural outcome of consolidation
6. ACC commish -- compelled by contagion fears, only recently got conference on path to position of strength
7. Big East commish -- see six
6. Lower bowl execs coalition -- see five
9. NCAA exec -- their power is inversely related to schools' collective power

I've seen speculation that the SEC got what it wanted -- the status quo. Whether this is true or not, I don't think they were active in saving the Big XII as the rich tend to get richer under these situations -- and the SEC (along with the Big Ten and Texas) overflows with college football wealth. There is no doubt in my mind that the SEC was poised to gain under realignment with the addition of A&M and one or more of the following: OU, VaTech, WVU.

I've also seen speculation that the Big Ten had an interest in slowing this down to reassess the new landscape. I doubt the Big Ten, the catalyst for these changes, was behind the rescue of the Big XII since it had considered most every scenario and was prepared to make its own maximizing moves under severe time pressure. Since other players may not have been so prepared then there is little to gain and possibly something to lose for things to slow down from the Big Ten's perspective.

11 June 2010

Prediction on realignment

Big Ten adds NE, TX, ND
SEC adds A&M, OK
Pac10 adds CO, MO, UT, KS
MWC adds TX Tech, KS ST, IA ST, OK ST, Baylor

07 June 2010

On Big Ten Expansion

This year's void from big college revenue sports action has been filled by talk of big ten expansion. We at carmodycourt are grateful for this great source of rumor fodder to help pass the time.

This is a great opportunity to apply some game theory principles to what we have seen play out. Some of the most enlightened thought on this topic has been provided by illini lawyer blogger frank the tank (great movie btw).

What ftt has seemed to hone in on is the big ten and its influencing factors and decision drivers. This led to the astute observation that tejas and nd are the big fish. Where ftt has been somewhat less focused upon are the why's and the who elses.

The biggest question in our mind when the news first broke wasn't which schools would be added but rather why announce expansion intentions at all? To do so would seemingly give up the value of secret negotiations.

The a nouncement told us one of two things about the big ten's goals for expansion.

1. Primary target is nd.

Secret negotiations and/or nd-specific negotiations in the past failed to lure the domers. Public announcement sets major conference reallignments in motion which could help push nd in. Most interesting rumor that supports this is the big east telling nd to leave in order to protect itself from getting decimated by big ten expansion east.


2. Expansion was never about just going to 12.

This is not necessarily true as nd is possibly big tens only objective, but this is very likely about going to 14+ teams. It's easy to hold confidential conversations with one party. It's impossible to do so when speaking with more than one other party, particularly here since decisions to reallignments are likely to be interdependent of others decisions. No use keeping cat in bag here.