You may recall that this website reported not long ago that the Big 12 would expand back to 12 teams by the end of the summer. News broke today regarding an agreement between the Big 12 and the Southeastern Conference to send their champions to an as-yet-unnamed bowl game. That news, combined with the anger expressed by the Florida State University Board of Trustees regarding the ACC’s new television deal, makes Big 12 expansion even more certain.
I have been told that additional teams are now “on the list” of Big 12 expansion targets. In no particular order, that list includes: Florida State, Clemson, Miami, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Louisville, Notre Dame, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.
There has even been a change in mood towards moving past the twelve I was first told was a fairly “hard” number. There is now a certain “flexibility upward”, with 14 being the new cap on expansion. I can also report that nearly every 14-team scenario currently being discussed by insiders includes Notre Dame. The reasoning behind this is that Notre Dame is practically the only school that makes “the numbers work” as far as expanding to 14 teams is concerned.
It is now clear that the ACC’s hopes of entering the top-tier of major conferences have been utterly dashed. This new bowl, combined with the Pac 12/Big Ten alliance in the Rose Bowl, assures that reality.
What is also certain is that the stability of the Big 12 can no longer be questioned. Whatever your favorite Missouri senator might think, the Big 12 Conference is here to stay. (Could that guy sound any more like Napoleon Dynamite?) Even after the poaching two schools from the Big 12 in the last round of conference realignment, SEC commissioner Mike Slive recognizes the strength and stability of the Big 12. In commenting on the new agreement, he had this to say:
A new January bowl tradition is born. This new game will provide a great matchup between the two most successful conferences in the BCS era and will complement the exciting postseason atmosphere created by the new four-team model.
In translation, then, the ACC is finished as anything resembling a viable alternative to the Big 12 as a member of the “Big Four” conferences. And quite soon, they will be seeing (most-likely) multiple current members of their conference vying for position in the powerfully-positioned Big 12.