Tag:Conference Realignment
Posted on: September 18, 2011 2:45 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Sept. 17)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. The Big East lost big time on Saturday, and never saw it coming. Big East commissioner John Marinatto sat down in Byrd Stadium on Saturday to watch West Virginia take on Maryland. When he made the arrangements to attend the game, I bet he didn't know that he would be in an ACC stadium while being informed of reports Pittsburgh and Syracuse are leaving for that very conference. When reached for comment about the reports, Marinatto had none. Based on reports from the stadium, the commissioner never saw it coming.

If true, it is incredibly embarrassing for the league office and not a great sign for the league members. TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte already expressed his concerns regarding the shifts in conference alignment, and the departure of two teams has led to league officials reaching out to current Big 12 members. It's possible that if Oklahoma and Texas leave the Big 12, the remaining members (likely that Oklahoma State would follow OU, possible Texas Tech follows Texas) could fold in with the remaining members of the Big East.

From a conference perspective, league officials needed to decide whether they wanted to play offense or defense in realignment. Texas A&M started the process, but the power move was made on Saturday when the Big East lost two more schools to the ACC - bringing the tally to five schools in a decade. Syracuse was a founding member of the conference, and Pittsburgh had become a perennial contender in football and basketball. The Big East only added TCU as their offensive move, and were completely unprepared for Saturday's news defensively. The conference only has a $5 million exit fee, as opposed to the recently approved $20 million exit fee for the ACC (unanimously voted on last week by the school presidents). The Big East lost two schools, and a lot of leverage in conference realignment. Now John Marinatto must scramble, and make efforts to secure TCU's interest in the conference as well as develop a plan to replace the departed universities. Ironically, the conference went 4-2 on Saturday. Only Pittsburgh and Syracuse picked up losses.

2. Give West Virginia the ball and flip a coin, if it's heads they'll score. The Mountaineers finally got a ground game going in the 37-31 win at Maryland on Saturday, with Andrew Buie, Vernard Roberts, and Shawne Alston combining for 107 yards on 25 attempts. The numbers aren't fantastic, but it is an upgrade from where the rushing attack was heading into College Park. Head coach Dana Holgorsen mentioned that teams were daring West Virginia's offense to run the ball, and if they couldn't make it a threat it would be a weakness moving forward.

Instead of the run setting up the pass, the pass sets up the run in Morgantown. The mere presence of a rushing threat completes an already efficient West Virginia offense. On the season the Mountaineers have scored on 17 of 31 drives uninterrupted by the end of a half. Give West Virginia the ball, there's more than a 50% chance that Geno Smith will methodically march down the field and turn the possession into points on the scoreboard. With West Virginia's secondary causing all kinds of trouble for 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year Danny O'Brien, you have to feel good about the state of West Virginia's offense. Of course, we reach this conclusion one week before the Mountaineers face LSU's defense. I believe they present just a little bit of a different threat than the Terps.

3. USF does not get caught "playing to their competition." - The Bulls' offense scored less than 20 points on five different occasions in 2010. I'm willing to bet it doesn't happen more than twice in 2011, if even that. South Florida refused to play down to their Sun Belt opponents on Saturday, lighting up the scoreboard in the 70-17 victory. The blowout comes on the heels of a 37-7 route of Ball State, where BJ Daniels really started to get the Bulls' offense clicking. Everything was moving in full gear against the Rattlers, with Daniels setting a career-high for the second week in a row tossing for 382 yards and four touchdowns. USF scored on eight of their first ten drives, and also featured the breakout of Colorado transfer Darrell Scott. Scott put up career numbers as well with 146 yards rushing, 84 yards receiving, and four total touchdowns. The Notre Dame win felt like it more of a Irish loss at the time, but the sloppy, rain-delayed victory might have been the spark to kick off a potentially memorable season for the young program.

4. Pittsburgh's defense has to improve second half performance. A huge red flag went up last weekend, when the Panthers allowed a blatantly inferior Maine squad climb back into the game in the fourth quarter. The Black Bears did score their final touchdown with three seconds remaining, resulting in a misleading six-point victory, but the it was concerning nonetheless. The trend of poor second half defense finally caught up with the Panthers against Iowa on Saturday, resulting in a 31-27 loss.

Kevin Harper's 24-yard field goal in the fourth quarter gave Pitt a seemingly safe 27-10 lead. Then this touted 3-4 defense sat back and allowed James Vandenberg to go to work on the secondary. Iowa's offense put up 201 of their 475 yards of total offense in the fourth quarter, sending the Panthers packing with no answers for their poor play. The Panthers will get one more non-conference game to fix these issues before kicking off the Big East schedule against South Florida at home. Unfortunately for the Panthers, next week's opponent is a much-improved Notre Dame squad fresh off a confidence-building victory against Michigan State.

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Posted on: September 18, 2011 1:19 am
Edited on: September 18, 2011 1:26 am
 

What I learned from the ACC (Sept. 17)



Posted by Chip Patterson


1. When it comes to expansion, ACC moves swiftly and silently. While Mike Slive and Larry Scott continue to make headlines with their cryptic quotes about realignment and expansion, ACC commissioner John Swofford once again made the moves necessary to protect the future of the conference. Before Legends, before Leaders, and before the Pac-12 matched their name with their membership; the ACC added Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College from the Big East in order to hold a conference championship game. I knew that September 17 would be a big day for the ACC, but I did not know it would be a day that defined the future of the conference.

Before Big East commissioner John Marinatto could say "clambake," Pittsburgh and Syracuse reportedly submitted formal applications to the ACC for membership. CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy broke the story Saturday morning, and Gary Parrish is reporting the ACC presidents could vote on the expansion as soon as Sunday. "It's done," a source said to Parrish.

The addition of the two schools paired with last week's decision to raise the conference's exit fee to $20 million protects the future of the ACC. If we are indeed headed towards superconferences, Swofford has prepared his league to be one of them. By the time the story broke, the deal was reportedly already done, and there was no need for cryptic quotes or loaded statements. While Texas A&M's move was the first domino to fall, Saturday's developments may have expedited more major moves. Buckle up folks, the shift is happening now.

UPDATE: At 11:37 p.m. (ET), the ACC announced a media teleconference for Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m.. CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy is reporting that the university presidents will meet prior to the teleconference. Stay tuned to CBSSports.com for more details of the conference's announcement, whatever it may be.

2. Florida State displays resilience in loss, but now what? The Seminoles fought with every ounce they could pull together from their beaten and battered roster in a losing effort to the top-ranked Sooners. The options were laid out plainly before the game: win and become a national title contender, lose and fall from the national title discussion entirely. Granted there are plenty of scenarios that could feature the Seminoles in the national title game as a 1-loss or even 2-loss team, but I wouldn't put any money on those outcomes.

The challenge for Jimbo Fisher's team is avoid a hangover from this frustrating loss. Florida State can still set their sights on the ACC Championship and a BCS bowl victory. The Seminoles haven't won an ACC title since 2005 and haven't won a BCS bowl game since defeating Michael Vick and Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl to win the National Championship for the 1999 season. There is plenty of room for growth, and the loss does not mean that the Seminoles "aren't back." The atmosphere in Doak Campbell Stadium was electric on Saturday night, and hopefully a sign of things to come in Tallahassee rather than a one-time occasion.

3. Miami got Jacory Harris back, but the difference was on defense. Jacory Harris may have matured, and changed in many ways off the field. But against Ohio State, Jacory Harris still looked very much like the Jacory we know and love. Great footwork, incredible athleticism, and wildly inconsistent in his reads and decision making. Harris finished the game with 123 yards passing, two touchdowns, and a pair of interceptions to match. The Hurricanes got their boost from their defense, which swarmed all over the field with high energy and held the Buckeyes to just 209 yards of total offense. Senior linebacker Sean Spence led the way in his first game back from suspension as the team's leading tackler while Adwele Ojomo and Marcus Forston provided depth on the defensive line that was lacking in Miami's season opening loss to Maryland.

4. Georgia Tech's offense is for real. Record-setting real. Georgia Tech's frustrating 2010 season included a 28-25 loss to Kansas. If the Yellow Jackets were out for revenge on Saturday, they certainly showed it in their 42-point second half output against the Jayhawks. When the final buzzer sounded 12 different Georgia Tech players had combined for 604 yards rushing in the 66-24 win. The total set a new school record, and the 12.1 yards per carry as a team set a new NCAA record. (NOTE: the official game notes list it as a record, but CBSSports.com's Adam Jacobi points out that Northern Illinois recorded 15.5 last November. Regardless, impressive performance by the Jackets).  Georgia Tech's offense has been steamrolling their opponents, using a stable of home-run threats to deflate their opposition with big plays. Against Kansas, the Yellow Jackets had scoring plays of 95, 63, 67, and 52 yards. Quarterback Tevin Washington has become a wizard in Paul Johnson's option offense, freezing defenders with fakes and reads while his teammates set up the perimeter blocking for the playmakers. High point totals against inferior opposition is normal for early season games, but hanging 66 on Kansas and giving the Jayhawks their first loss of the season made a statement. This offense is a force to be reckoned with.

5. Don't give Clemson WR Sammy Watkins any space. None. At least not if you plan on keeping him from burning your defense. The true freshman wide receiver has drawn the praises of coaches, fans, and teammates since arriving on campus this fall. On Saturday he made his presence known to the nation in the Tigers' 38-24 win over Auburn in Death Valley. Watkins led all receivers with 10 catches for 155 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Both scores came on short/mid-range passes that Watkins reeled in and took to the house. Against a defense that carries the reputation of "SEC speed," Watkins looked supersonic as he left the Auburn secondary in his dust headed towards the end zone. Watkins is an early favorite for Rookie of the Year already, and likely will be giving defensive coordinators headaches for the foreseeable future.

6. Things have gone from bad to worse at Boston College. Heading into the season, all the buzz around Boston College was about an upgraded offense that would feature Preseason Player of the Year Montel Harris rather than rely on the star running back. The defense, ranked among the best in the nation, returned arguably the game's best linebacker in Luke Kuechly and touted sophomore Kevin Pierre-Louis. Kuechly still leads the nation in tackles, but that's about all that has been going write for the Eagles. Offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers has taken a medical leave of absence, Montel Harris is struggling to get back to the field after undergoing his second arthroscopic knee surgery in a year, and leading receiver Ifeanyi Momah might be lost for the season with his own knee injury. But frustrations have spilled over to kicking game as well, with Nate Freese missing an extra point in the second quarter and a 23-yard field goal with 43 seconds remaining in a 20-19 loss to Duke in the ACC opener for both squads. What started as a season of hope for BC (and even some chatter about ACC Atlantic dark horse) has turned into an 0-3 start with Clemson, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Florida State, and Miami left on the schedule.

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Posted on: September 17, 2011 4:21 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2011 4:23 pm
 

UNC AD: ACC expansion 'right thing to do'

Posted by Chip Patterson

Conference realignment accelerated on Saturday, with CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy breaking the news that Pittsburgh and Syracuse are "likely gone" to the ACC.

Each school individually submitted letters of application to the ACC, according to high ranking ACC and Big East officials. The news comes a week after the ACC presidents meeting, where the schools unanimously voted to raise the conference exit fee to $20 million. The exit fee was previously between $12 million and $15 million.

While Big East commissioner John Marinatto wouldn't comment on the reports while attending West Virginia's victory against Maryland in College Park, North Carolina athletic director Dick Baddour weighed in on the ACC's reported expansion.

"It's obvious that the world is turning upside down and we want the ACC to be in a position where we are strong," Baddor said. "It's absolutely the right thing to do."

This would be the second time the conference has expanded in the last decade, after adding Virginia Tech, Miami, and Boston College in the 2004 and 2005 seasons. The combination of adding expansion with the raised exit fee would make it appear that the ACC has positioned itself to survive any poaching from the SEC - which still has not identified a 14th member to balance the divisions after Texas A&M's addition.

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Posted on: September 15, 2011 5:33 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 5:34 pm
 

OU regent agenda includes 'Conference Alignment'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We've already seen credible reports that Oklahoma wants out of the Big 12 and that their conference-mates expect to hear something official within the next two weeks. So maybe it's no surprise that the Sooner Board of Regents is set to potentially make that looming decision at their meeting this Monday, Sept. 19.

The meeting agenda (PDF) was made public Thursday afternoon, and we'll save you the trouble of scrolling to page 218 of 219 and show you what appears there:


It seems entirely possible that the Oklahoma board "taking any appropriate action" regarding "new athletic conference membership" could well be the exact moment when the Big 12 dissolves for good, and the Pac-12 becomes the de facto Pac-14.

Of course, just because the item is on the agenda doesn't make any specific decision a guarantee, particularly not when "potential legal ramifications" are so present as to be also be listed on the agenda item. But this remains the clearest, most official sign yet that the Sooners aren't just considering their "conference alignment" options; they already have one foot out the door.

HT: Andy Staples.


Posted on: September 15, 2011 12:58 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 12:58 pm
 

Brady Deaton expects OU decision within 14 days

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Brady Deaton is in a rather tough spot these days. Deaton is the Missouri Chancellor but he's also the head of the Big 12 board, which means that while he's doing all he can to keep the Big 12 together, he also has to make sure that Missouri has itself covered as well. Unfortunately for Deaton, much like the rest of us, he knows his fate is essentially in the hands of Oklahoma.

If the Sooners decide to stay in the Big 12, then the conference can survive without Texas A&M. If Oklahoma decides to head west and takes Oklahoma State with it, then it's time for Missouri to begin looking for a new home. When will we all find out what Oklahoma's intentions are? Well, in a talk with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Deaton seems to think we'll all know within the next two weeks.

"I just have had an understanding that within 10 days to two weeks we were likely to have some indication of where things stood, but with no firm deadlines there," Deaton said. "We're being patient and working together, and certainly right now we're in a little bit of a position where we need for Oklahoma to give us a sense of what they're thinking about and take it from there."

In other words, not much has changed for the Big 12. Oklahoma still seems to hold all the cards here, and Texas A&M is hoping that the Sooners make the decision to leave as well because it will make the Aggies move to the SEC that much easier to complete.

Personally I'm just hoping that I'm able to enjoy football this weekend without a new episode of "How The Big 12 Turns" premiering, though I doubt that will be the case.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 7:45 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 7:56 pm
 

Trustee: FSU forming realignment committee

Posted by Chip Patterson

Florida State does not know what kind of role it will have in the potential shift in conference realignment, but the school is making efforts to ensure they will be prepared for all scenarios.

Andy Harggard, chairman of FSU's board of trustees, told the Palm Beach Post on Tuesday that the school has begun forming a committee that will explore the university's options.

He says FSU should be prepared for any scenario, whether it's moving to another conference or staying in the ACC, and having a say in who else may join the league. That could mean Texas, which will seek to leave the Big 12 if Oklahoma and Oklahoma State jump to the Pac-12, which is expected.

Haggard said he believes that if Oklahoma and Texas decide to leave the Big 12 then "you will see the dominoes fall."

In the report, Haggard confirmed that Florida State has not been approached by the SEC and university officials are very happy with their current status with the ACC. The Seminoles have been rumored as a potential new member for the SEC for years, but that speculation has grown as the conference now looks for a 14th member to join Texas A&M.

While conference commissioner Mike Slive may say they are exploring the scheduling of a 13-team conference, it is the common belief that adding a 14th to keep divisions even is a preferable option. Adding Florida State would violate the "gentlemen's agreement" to not add a school from an existing SEC territory, but if "the dominoes fall" school officials may decide to act against their previous arrangements.

The rumors of Texas joining the ACC kicked into high gear after UT officials traveled to Norman to meet with Oklahoma about keeping the Big 12 together. With the results of that meeting being less than favorable for the future of the conference, Texas now much consider their next move.

With ESPN's arrangements with Texas for The Longhorn Network, it would seem that the most feasible options would be either to follow Oklahoma west to the Pac-12, or try to join with the ACC - who also has a media rights deal with ESPN.

Florida State was the face of ACC football from the moment they joined the conference in 1992. Since joining the Seminoles have won 12 conference titles, including a nine-year run from 1992-2000 where they added two national championships. Since 2005 the Seminoles sputtered to match their dominance as head coach Bobby Bowden slowly passed the program on to head coach Jimbo Fisher.

With the Seminoles back in the position of ACC favorite and national contender under Fisher, it would make sense the school wants to take an aggressive and prominent position in a potential realignment. Florida State was the face of ACC football when it joined, and they want to make sure their voice is heard if/when they expand.

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Posted on: September 13, 2011 12:40 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2011 11:26 am
 

Report: Oklahoma wants out and Big 12 is 'done'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We can't personally vouch for the credibility of the Austin-American Statesman's sources. But if the picture portrayed by those sources in this story by Kirk Bohls and Alan Trubow is at all accurate, the day of reckoning for the Big 12 is just about at hand.

According to the report -- and as also reported by CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd -- University of Texas president Bill Powers and athletic director DeLoss Dodds flew to Oklahoma Sunday for a meeting with Sooners officials. Powers' and Dodds' aim, according to Bolhs and Trubow: convince Oklahoma (and by association, joined-at-the-hip in-state rival Oklahoma State) to remain in the Big 12 and forgo applying for membership in the Pac-12.

But according to the report's sources, the Sooners' minds were -- and are -- already made up. They're looking West:
"There's nothing Texas could have offered Oklahoma that would have changed their mind. They were set on leaving the Big 12 before Texas got there," a well-placed source at a Big 12 school said, adding that Sunday's meeting had a very friendly and cooperative tone. "The Big 12's done. Oklahoma wasn't open to creating Big 12 stability" ...

"Texas must have come into the meeting and seen the handwriting on the wall," said a source close to OU and Texas who is familiar with these realignment issues. "I think OU and OSU will seek membership to the Pac-12 in the next two weeks, but [Texas] A&M comes first."
Despite the Sooners' and Cowboys' intentions, even the report isn't ready to move the realignment chess pieces just yet. While the Oklahoma and Oklahoma State move is "expected," Larry Scott -- who has said repeatedly the Pac-12 doesn't want to expand at this time -- and the Pac-12 presidents could reject the Sooners' and Cowboys' applications.

But assuming Scott does pull the trigger, Texas would be left without a viable conference as the Big 12 crumbles. Per the report, their options at that stage would be to follow the Oklahoma schools to the Pac-12 (or -14), apply to join the ACC, or go independent--and the report claims Texas officials have already had highly preliminary talks with the ACC.

While independence is described as the least appealing option for Dodds and Texas officials, the Longhorn Network could be a major stumbling block for joining one of the other conferences. According to Bohls and Trubow, "Texas has no desire to part, alter or share any aspect of The Longhorn Network, but it would not be able to retain the network as is in the Pac-12." The Longhorns are also reportedly balking at the Pac-12's plan for divisional alignments in a 16-team scenario.

So what's the bottom line right now? With the Statesman report backing the widespread rumors that the Sooners are ready to pack their bags, it seems safe to assume that Oklahoma is indeed bent on abandoning the Big 12 and concluding its viability as a conference. But past that? Every other conference realignment chip is still in the air, and it remains anybody's guess where they fall.

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Posted on: September 8, 2011 12:44 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 12:45 pm
 

Baylor to the Big East?

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Baylor has been one of the most vocal members of the Big 12 in recent days as the school does everything it can to keep the Big 12 together. It's a move that isn't difficult to understand because in all of the conference realignment talk, when it comes to the Big 12, Baylor is one of the few schools whom you don't hear mentioned as possibilities for other BCS conferences.

After all, in the Pac-16 scenario that keeps coming up, while Texas would want to bring Texas Tech west with them, you don't hear anything about the Longhorns being all that concerned about the Bears. As it turns out, however, Baylor may actually have a BCS contingency plan. According to a report by Yahoo's Jason King, Baylor is rather confident that if the Big 12 does dissolve, the school will find a home in the Big East.

“There haven’t been any guarantees,” a source with knowledge of the situation told King. “But [Baylor] feels strongly that that’s what would happen.” 

Which is rather interesting to hear if it's indeed true. Like I said, I understand why Baylor wants to keep the Big 12 together, but their method in trying to do so seemed like a bit much. Instead of just stating the obvious, Baylor has been using a lot of rhetoric about preserving the sanctity of college football and the integrity. It's also talked about the best interest of the fans, and worrying about the effects that realignment can have on the states of the schools involved.

Which seems a bit funny to me because I seem to remember Baylor being one of four Texas schools that left SMU, TCU, Houston and Rice behind when they left the now-defunct SWC for the Big 12 when it formed in 1996. I guess it was okay back then.

Now this report about Baylor and the Big East?

Again, I don't begrudge Baylor for finding a safety net. It's what any institution in the Big 12 should be doing right now just in case. But don't try to pretend you're worried about the sanctity of college football and preserving tradition when your actions show that just like everyone else, the thing you're really worried about is yourself.
 
 
 
 
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