Former Michigan coach re-ignites conference expansion speculation

May possibly be another example of Big Ten hubris … or  just maybe a highly-informed insight into a master plan.

Former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr is the latest to stir the conference expansion pot, predicting Notre Dame will join the Big Ten. This would spark a series of realignments that would have the University of Louisville eventually landing in the ACC.

Addressing members of the Montgomery, Ala., Quarterback Club, Carr indicated that Notre Dame would be under increasing pressure to join a conference “if they want to be a factor in the national picture going forward.”

Carr believes the six major conferences would evolve into a structure that allows the Big Ten to expand to 16 teams. The SEC, PAC 10, and ACC would be the other surviving conferences, resulting in a scenario that produces a four-team playoff while maintaining the current bowl system, according to a Kent Sterling report:

Here’s how it works.  Rutgers and Pitt agree to accept an invitation to the Big Ten and leave the Big East.  Without those two teams, the Big East crumbles as a football conference.  Six teams is a club, not a conference.  That displaces Louisville, UConn, Syracuse, West Virginia, South Florida, and Cincinnati.

Syracuse, UConn, Louisville, and Cincinnati move to the ACC.  South Florida and West Virginia slide into the SEC.  That gives the ACC the 16 schools needed to fit nicely into the four 16-team conference scenario.  The SEC now has 14 teams.

Texas accepts a bid to move into the Big Ten.  Its fledging Network is allowed to continue operating in a very creative deal proposed by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany.  Without Nebraska and Colorado, the Big 12 drops to ten teams and loses the Big 12 Championship game in 2011 – this part has already happened with Nebraska moving to the Big Ten and Colorado ditching the Big 12 in favor of the Pac 10.

Texas A&M and Oklahoma sprint into the top football conference on the planet – the SEC.  That caps them at 16.

The Pac 10 will need four more teams to fill its dance card after Colorado and Utah join, and frankly I have no idea who they will be.  Boise State is an excellent candidate.  That leave three holes.  They could expand east and invite Oklahoma State and TCU (getting the Pac-10 into the Dallas/Ft. Worth market).  Maybe one or both of the jilted Kansas schools.  Maybe Nevada?

Carr thinks conference expansion will heat up again in the next six to nine months. The realignments would become clear over the next year or so, setting up a four team playoff for a national championship in 2016.

Swofford babble on possible ACC expansion

All of sudden John Swofford, the Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner, actually dares to chat publicly again about prospects for expansion, stating glibly:

“Very comfortable not only with 12, but the 12 we have.”

That doesn’t mean, however, the league won’t grow. Swofford admits the ACC has looked at expansion, according to a report from Doug Roberson, Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Swofford said his conference has looked at 14- and 16-team scenarios.

“We know what it would look like and what the advantages and disadvantages would be,” he said. “It gets a lot more complicated. There’s a reason it hasn’t happened.  But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.”

Swofford hopes the 12-year, $1.86-billion TV deal the conference recently signed with ESPN will help the ACC weather the financial storms that have forced some conferences and schools to consider changes.

He said people should remember that the ACC started when seven schools left the Southern Conference in 1953. It could happen again.

In other words, the ACC isn’t going to be pro-active. Sounds familiar, like the wait-and-see approach the Big East is taking. Not going to do anything until forced to do so by the more powerful conferences.

One Football Czar’s Dream Conference

By Steve Springer

Summer is here, normally a dead period for the typical college sports fan.  A time to relax and refresh, quietly anticipate the coming football season.

Not this year, however. The next few days, heck, even the next few hours, could be some of the most  landscape-altering times in college sports history. Major changes could turn the college football world upside down.

What’s the Big Ten going to do? What does the PAC Ten have up its sleeve? Is Nebraska staying or going? What will happen to the Big East? Where will Louisville end up? Lots of questions. Few answers.

The average football fan feelx helpless, with no control over what happens. But not here at Card Game. There is hope. At least hypothetically, you are in charge of it all. You are in the driver’s seat. You get to design your ideal conference for the Cards. Charlie Strong’s future is in your hands. Tom Jurich is your play toy. You get to decide whose ankles Vic Anderson gets to break this season.

Your job is to pick and choose a conference that best suits U of L. There are a handful of rules, however:

  • No politics in your way.
  • Let’s keep it somewhat realistic, geographically speaking. No teams west of the Mississippi.
  • This conference is for hoops and pigskin for balanced scheduling.
  • As many teams as you like, from an eight-team league to a 16-team mega-conference.
  • No Wildcats allowed, not deserving of a spot at our table.

Here’s mine:

Big Dream Conference

North Division

  • Louisville
  • West Virginia (good rivalry brewing here)
  • Cincinnati (good rivalry, good hoops, growing football)
  • Ohio State (good hoops/football)
  • Pittsburgh (good hoops/football)
  • Penn State (good football, basketball cupcake)
  • Syracuse (good hoops/football might rise again)
  • Virginia Tech (good football/basketball gimme)

South Division

  • Florida (good hoops/football)
  • Florida State (decent hoops/good football)
  • Miami (good football/decent hoops)
  • Tennessee (good hoops/football)
  • North Carolina (good hoops/decent football)
  • Memphis (good rivalry, decent hoops/football)
  • Southern Miss (old rivalry, decent football/hoops gimme)

Just for fun, I would throw in Murray State, my alma mater, in the South Division. Decent hoops, patsy football. But best of all,  U of L, my favorite team, would be playing in my back yard.

Now it’s your turn!