UPDATE! MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE IS MOVING TO CONFERENCE USA!!!!!!
Conference realignment fever seemed to be under control for several months. But the fever is burning again, and it’s running wild across several conferences.
The Big Ten plucked (if “plucked” is the right word) Maryland and Rutgers last week. Thus, panic was reborn, the panic that the major conferences need to add schools and add them fast, lest they be left behind as a minor-players in college sports if not picked apart completely.
Another entertaining item was the fact the ACC was suing Maryland for the full $52.2 million exit fee the school owes the conference for leaving.
What else is going on? Well, ESPN reported early Wednesday morning that the ACC is going to vote to add Louisville. If that comes to fruition, there’s the replacement for Maryland. And it leaves the Big East with another vacancy.
Cincinnati wants into the ACC. So does Connecticut. There, they could hang out with its old Big East pals, Pittsburgh and Syracuse. But does the ACC want them? Not necessarily.
Virginia, meanwhile, claims it is standing firmly behind the ACC and isn’t interested in slipping off to the Big Ten.
Kansas’ student newspaper says the school should bid the Big 12 adieu and hook up with the Big Ten. North Carolina Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham, however, said this in an email to UNC fans on Tuesday:
“Carolina is a charter member of the Atlantic Coast Conference and we believe the ACC is the finest conference in the nation. The ACC has been our home for nearly 60 years and we want it to be our home for another 60 years at least. Our speculating on what other league may be better for the Tar Heels would not be productive. We are part of a great league with a strong future and we know that the ACC leadership is serious in its efforts to strengthen the conference and position it for long-term success.”
If the ACC seems set up to hold together for the unforseeable future, maybe North Carolina will hold tight. What am I saying? This is major-college sports we’re talking about.
But, there is a demand for outsiders to get into the ACC. Connecticut wants in. So does Louisville, which couldn’t successfully romance the Big 12 not long ago.
Meanwhile, how about the Big 12, currently at 10 members? Would the league be interested in Florida State and Clemson if those two got fed up with the ACC’s football mediocrity? Does Bob Bowlsby’s conference feel good about its chances to keep its current 10 members in tow and is it confident enough to not try to expand to keep up with the Joneses?
Meanwhile, the Big East continues to desperately try to position itself as some sort of a major conference. Boise State and San Diego State say they’re still coming aboard. Also committed to doing so are Houston, SMU, Memphis and UCF, all currently in Conference USA. Navy will join for football in 2015.
“We’re not finished,” Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said. “We obviously have some other plans for expansion.”
The winner of Thursday night’s Louisville-Rutgers game will almost surely represent the league in the Orange Bowl. Rutgers is in the Big Ten in 2014. Louisville hopes it is somewhere else, too.
Weird, wild stuff.
A footnote: If the Big Ten added Kansas and North Carolina on top of Maryland and Rutgers? No one will ever mistake Big Ten football for the product the SEC displays.