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.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

One thought on “Former Michigan coach re-ignites conference expansion speculation”
  1. Better check Lloyds bottle of Geritol. It looks like he’s trying to apply logic to a situation ruled by greed and pride. But some of his ramblings would be interesting!

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