Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Expansion Roulette......

Let me preface this post by saying I have no idea what's going on with conference expansion. I'm guessing none of us do. Hell, the conductor of this cacophonous orchestra, Big Televen commissioner Jim Delaney, probably has no idea what the fuck is going on. This whole thing is far too complicated & muddled at this point to figure out. We do, however, know two things for sure in this life: 1) it takes a BIG hog to weigh a ton, & 2) the only people who see UFO's live in trailer parks. Don't say you never learned nothing at the Barrel. So what's it all mean for Tech & where do we end up when the dust settles? We can only speculate, so here goes...

First of all, the worst thing that can happen to Tech is that the college football landscape undergoes sweeping changes & we're left by the side of the road, pondering what mighta, coulda, should have been. We have confidence that AD Dan Radakovich WON'T let this happen. We also have confidence that ACC commissioner John Swofford will do his best to ensure this happens because he is, well, a moron. Here's a brief excerpt from Swofford's latest press conference. So we can't stand idly by as the world changes around us, we have to be pro-active in dealing with expansion. Now is not the time to bury our head in the sand & pretend this isn't happening around us. we must be ready for change if/when it comes. Three scenarios that hypothetically we might face assuming the Big Televen expands to 16 teams:
  • Scenario One: join the SEC. Plenty has to go our way for this to happen. First, the Big 12 must remain somewhat intact. If the Big 11 poaches Nebraska & Missouri and the Pac-10 swoops in & grabs Colorado (all likely scenarios) then the Big 12 is reduced to nine teams & can either fold or add more teams. We have to hope they add more teams. I see little possibility the SEC doesn't approach Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, & the Fightin' T. Boone Picken's (Oklahoma State) about joining the SEC at that point. It would be the biggest football conference in all the land & be a huge revenue boost for an already wealthy conference. A "no-brainer", if you will. But let's say the Big 12 decides to add teams & stay the course. What then for the SEC? As I said in an earlier post, they won't be one-upped by a bunch of slow-footed Midwesterners. If the Big Televen is getting new tractors, the SEC is gettin' new Camaro's. So the SEC decides to expand to 16, who do they take? Well, I see the SEC as more likely to strengthen its stranglehold on the South, the cradle of college football, than try and enlarge its geographic footprint. That is unless the whole Big 12 thing above goes the other way. So the SEC would most likely just consolidate its position & strengthen it's death grip on college football in the South by adding Clemson, Florida State, Miami, & Georgia Tech. Clemson & FSU are natural SEC fits. Miami is a little bit of a wild-card but they come along because it's a better fit geographically & money-wise than being left in the decimated ACC. Tech is a natural; a former SEC member, well within the geographic footprint, strong secondary sports (basketball, baseball) & we bring a resumption of several natural rivalries & a continuation of one (UGA). Plus, SEC schools for the most part view us as a neat little curiosity in football & not a real threat. Sure we can handle the likes of Vandy, Ole Miss, & Kentucky but when it comes to the big boys like Florida, Bama, & LSU they see us as posing little threat. Would Georgia object & block our entry? Conceivably yes, but they want a strong SEC so I really don't see that as happening. The big problem with this scenario? We simply don't bring much additional revenue to the table. Now here's the part where Tech fans say: 1) they hate the SEC, & 2) we can never compete with them. Fine, hate away, it doesn't change the fact that joing the SEC would be better for us IF we are offered. As for our ability to compete, we can & will compete at the highest level. Would the ACC be easier? Certainly. But we don't want a situation where we become like the Mountain West; on the outside trying to find a way in. if the choice is either join the SEC or be relegated to a non-important, basketball-first ACC that makes little money & carries very little respect football-wise, there is no choice - we join the SEC. It doesn't matter if we, the fans, WANT to join the SEC. We HAVE to join the SEC if invited to keep our program relevant. Which leads me to one other point about Tech: we are a football school. Period. There's really little to argue here.....
  • Scenario Two: the ACC goes proactive & expands. A stretch, I know, but not beyond the realm of possibility. After all, we've done it before & it worked out okay. So who does the ACC target in expanding to 16 teams? Well, I'd start with Pitt, UConn, Syracuse, & West Virginia. First of all, they are all decent basketball schools so that should keep Tobacco Road happy. Second, they all offer decent TV markets with the exception of West Virginia, where they have yet to introduce that high fallutin' invention (sorry, too easy). Pitt is a good football school in a poor football conference & offers a nice entry into western Pennsylvania. It's a natural for the ACC (James Carville's description of Pennsylvania as "Philadelphia on one side & Pittsburgh on the other with Alabama in-between" is an apt one). UConn brings in some of New York City & offers a natural extension up to Syracuse. And West Virginia has Bill Stewart & Bob Huggins to keep us all entertained. And our couch burning quotient rises infinitely. So we have that going for us. Other possible ACC targets are East Carolina (how does this add anything to the ACC?) & South Florida (seems redundant with Miami in the mix already). Objections? The two most likely are 1) travel, & 2) academics. As to travel we just have to deal with it; it's better than being irrelevant. And for academics? It's a football conference, not a fucking Quiz Bowl league. Deal with it. Or don't, because Swofford surely can't pull this off.....
  • Scenario Three: join the Big Televen. My phone blew up when Andy Katz mentioned this on SportsCenter last night. He said the Big 10 will "think outside the box" and consider Vandy, Maryland, & Tech. We're not buying. Yes, we just joined the American Association of Universities (AAU), a prerequisite for Big 10 membership. Yes, the Big 10 takes their academics seriously & we fit that mold. Yes, we are an upgrade over the traditional engineering school they have now (Purdue). And yes, getting the Big Ten Network into the Southeast, particularly Atlanta, would mean lots of cash for the conference. So it makes some sense. But travel would suck, particularly for us fans & we would essentially be the only Southern school in a Midwestern conference. Nice try but we don't see it happening. But then again, what do we know?
So we've flung some proverbial shit on the wall, now to see what sticks. As we said earlier, we really haven't a cue as to how this will turn out. Perhaps the best post we've read on the subject is at BlackHeartGoldPants. They seem to have Big 10 expansion figured out. What we do know is that if we sit idly by we will be left there, wondering what the hell happened & why everything has changed. Hopefully we have contingency plans for all eventualities. The floor's open, have at it.....


  1. There's a lot of huffing and puffing going on around this here expansion business, and that's not to say that huffing and puffing isn't a prelude to something, but lets all keep our pants on in the mean time.

    All of this is dependent on very conservative football conferencemaking a radical change. In the last eighty some odd years they've added one school, and they still call themselves the Big 10. Becauseof the Big Ten Network they are a very conservative and very rich conference.

    It may happen, and Tech needs to be ready, but just because Tech is ready doesn't mean expansion is likely. I put on clean underware every morning not because I'm expecting to be in a car accident. I put clean underware on because I may be in a car accident.

    So Big Ten expanssion, and any other expansion plans may never come to fruition. Even if Big Ten does expand, it may not be the multi team nuclear option so often bantered around in these slow media days. By adding one team the Big Ten could add a championship game and add a lot of revenue.

    If they go the one team route, it’s far more likely the ripple effect heads west, not east. Maybe they grab a team from the Big East, Maybe its Notre Dame; maybe they grab a team from the Big 12.

    Big East? Maybe they fold up football, or raid CUSA again. Surely teams aren't going to leave the ACC for a conference that keeps getting raided by other conferences.

    Notre Dame? No reason for any of this to ripple through college football. By the way Notre Dame is the only team that can bring in the North East Markets. All other teams (Syracuse, UConn, BC, etc. might as well be co-ed intramural teams as far as Boston and New York are concerened)

    Big 12? Well that's interesting. But what's more likely? They talk Arkansas into walking away from all that loverly ESPN/SEC money just for old time's sake, or the Big 12 grabs a team out of the Mountain West. Why wouldn't TCU, Utah or BYU leave the Mountain West?

    Then maybe the remaining Mountain West Schools and the WAC get frisky. Some of them run to the PAC 10, if the Pac 10 is interested, and the PAC 10 has shown little interest, or the Mountain West and WAC realign themselves.

    Long story long. Expansion is in the air, but so is love.


  2. I would place money that this will happen. The Big 1eleven0 is tired of playing second fiddle to the redneck masses down in the south. In their minds eye, they have more money, better pedigree, better education, yadda yadda. Regardless of actualities, this is their current motivation.

    This WILL happen. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but very soon.

  3. The trains too far down the track now to turn back. The Big Televen will expand to get their championship game. The only questions are by how many teams (to 12, 14, or 16 teams) & who those teams are. If things are to be in place for the 2012 season I believe June is the latest to announce something.....