Here is my story on Maryland Coach Randy Edsall’s concerns about the lack of leadership in the current college sports landscape.
As you wake up this morning and try to catch up on late-night expansion news, is your head spinning? After a dizzying few days of realignment speculation, there are now indications that everything may be slowing down, if not stopping altogether for the moment. Pacific-12 Commissioner Larry Scott and his membership’s leadership have seemed to pump the brakes as we all speed down the road toward a whole new college sports world.
The Pac-12 announced late Tuesday that it would remain a 12-team league, a decision that some see as a dose of sanity in a chaotic time in college sports. The Pac-12 will not add Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State to become football’s first 16-team superconference.
As a result, the two most storied Big 12 teams, Oklahoma and Texas, now have limited options. Both have indicated the desire to stabilize the Big 12. Oklahoma is saying it will stay under two conditions: The Big 12 needs to impose hard and fast rules on Texas’s use of the Longhorn Network, and Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe needs to go. But Oklahoma now would appear to have diminished leverage because the Sooners don’t have the opportunity to flee to the Pac-12. Texas’s options are limited because the ACC has stressed equal revenue sharing and that long-held ACC philosophy does not appear compatible with the relationship between Texas and its Longhorn Network.
Another residual effect of the Pac-12 announcement is that the SEC now may have a tough time finding a 14th team to balance its league with an even number of teams. Its 13th team will be Texas A&M when and if the legal wrangling by some Big 12 teams, namely Baylor, stops. Missouri reportedly was the favorite to become the 14th team, but that was when the future of the Big 12 was in doubt because of further Pac-12 expansion. Now that the Big 12 is looking to survive, does the SEC want to be seen as the league that further weakened the Big 12? And if not Missouri, then who becomes the 14th team? West Virginia?
That leads to the Big East. Administrators from the football-playing schools met Tuesday night in New York to discuss the future of the league. Connecticut reportedly still wants to join the ACC, which is not opposed to further expanding to 16 teams. But the Big East clearly wants to hang on to its membership — seven football-playing schools, including Texas Christian, which joins next season — and add a couple teams to offset the recent defections by Syracuse and Pittsburgh. The New York Times reported that Navy, Air Force, Temple, Central Florida, East Carolina (which formally applied for membership), Memphis and Houston are among the possibilities for Big East expansion.
And Notre Dame, whose leadership reportedly indicated that it would retreat from its independent football status only if it became apparent that the superconference era was upon us, now has further reason to maintain the status quo.
So in a college sports climate that Mike Tranghese, the former Big East commissioner, likened to Wall Street — “Greed is good” — we all may avoid the complete Armageddon scenario.