With news that Oregon and Washington will be joining the Big Ten as the 17th and 18th members, respectively, additional conference shuffling took place. Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah are joining Colorado in their exodus from the Pac-12 to the Big 12, while the ACC and SEC stood pat. Florida State is apparently investigating whether the ACC’s grant of rights can be gotten out of, but for the most part those two conferences seem fairly content at the moment.
Naming conventions of major college football conferences aside, I’m left wondering if the mad shuffle is at an end, or if it’s just a small hiatus before the next major moves happen.
First, looking at the remnants of the Pac-12, and things look bleak. The only members remaining are Oregon State, Washington State, Stanford, and Cal. There were moves to expand the Pac-12, but from my view it seems like the most logical course of action would be to merge the remnants of the Pac-12 with the Mountain West. Perhaps the MWC could then push to the level of the American Athletic Conference, though the AAC (itself spawned from the dregs of the Big East) hasn’t gotten much love from the Power 5.
There have been some rumbles that Stanford and Cal, though more specifically Stanford, may look to join the ACC. Which, again, naming conventions of conferences.
But after the flurry of activity, things have died down a bit. Will it last? Will the Big Ten stay at 18 members? Or will they look to expand again. Here are a couple scenarios I could see playing out.
Stanford and Notre Dame Join the Big Ten
This one may be more of a pipe dream than anything else, as it relies on the Fighting Irish actually committing to a conference. They’re quasi-members of the ACC, but a full membership in the B1G could become very tantalizing, especially if Stanford joins. If the Cardinal became B1G members, Notre Dame would have USC and Stanford, its two biggest rivals, in the conference. Historical rivals such as Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State, and Northwestern would also be there, with Nebraska and Penn State to boot.
If this were to happen, it may be because NOT being in a conference finally becomes untenable for ND. They’re set on TV money (though there’s always more to be had), as well as apparel deals. If the Power 4 (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12) decide to make overtures in regards to the football postseason, and disallow auto-bids for non-P4 champions, Notre Dame may suddenly be on the outside looking in. That could finally push them to join a conference.
ACC Dissolves, Big Ten, SEC, Big 12 Divvy the Teams Up
This may have to wait on the grant of rights, but from my seat the ACC is suddenly the weakest of the P4 conferences. There have been rumblings that other teams would like to get out sooner than later, and I could see the ACC having key teams poached.
If this were to happen, and disregarding that Notre Dame has that ACC tie-in, I think the Big Ten would target a few key schools. Virginia and UNC seem like #1 and #2, though there’s the chance that Virginia Tech and Duke tie themselves to their in-state rivals (didn’t stop Oregon and Washingtin, for what it’s worth). Beyond those 2-4 schools, Georgia Tech and Miami also make a lot of sense.
Assuming Clemson and Florida State head to the SEC, there are a few teams that could be facing the same predicament that the last four teams in the Pac-12 are currently facing. Does Boston College move the needle for many conferences? NC State? Wake Forest? Pitt?
Chances are the Big 12 would snap up whatever teams aren’t taken by the SEC and Big Ten, so Pitt could end up joining their WVU brethren, but I’d wager there will definitely be a few teams left in the dust.
This is all hypothetical at this point, and doesn’t get into scheduling, divisions (or pods), travel, money-sharing, etc. But I do think there will be more shuffling in the future, for better or for worse.
What do you think? Will there be more additions to the Big Ten in the future? If so, who?