Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Amid realignment, should private schools unite?
By Jeff Caplan
I've been thinking through all this realignment talk and have decided that our fine private institutions, so often overlooked and belittled by the big, state-school bullies, should unite to form their own all-private-school conference. We'll call it the Big Privates Conference (BPC).
First let's recognize that big, private-school bullies Notre Dame, USC and Miami aren't going to join, so here's what I propose for a mighty eight-team BPC:
First, we'll have the Lone Star Division consisting of Baylor, TCU, SMU and Rice (it's not like SMU and Rice are loving their set-up in Conference USA, and if you're them, wouldn't you rather play TCU and Baylor instead of Marshall and East Carolina? -- I know, TCU and SMU do play, but I'm talking in heated BPC play).
And let's face facts, Baylor is fighting an uphill battle to join the Pac-10. I think we can all agree that the Pac-10 prefers Colorado to Baylor (even if Colorado's biggest asset is simply it's proximity to the Pacific Ocean), and if reports are correct, Colorado is trying to beat Baylor to the punch by becoming the first to leave the Big 12 and join the Pac-10.
Now, if Colorado succeeds in seceding, then the Pac-10 could follow up by inviting Utah and leaving the rest of the Big 12 alone. This would allow Baylor to stick to its Big 12 Texas brethren who were ready to leave them in the realignment rubble. This scenario has a strong chance of happening if Notre Dame joins the Big Ten and scuttles Nebraska's and Missouri's plan to join the Big Ten. But wait, how can Nebraska get its wish and land in the Big Ten anyway? Simple. The BPC raids the Big Ten and grabs Northwestern, thus opening a spot for the Huskers, which then makes the Big 12 the Big 11, furthering Baylor's excitement at sticking to it to them while leaving Big 11 commissioner Dan Beebe with an itty-bitty problem.
With Utah in the Pac-10, BYU and TCU then decide that even if the Mountain West Conference adds Boise State to replace Utah, a move to the all-private-school conference is a better fit on all counts.
Where do the two remaining private schools come from to round out the eight-team conference? Just a bit more fun by plundering the mighty conferences. The BPC would then raid the SEC for its lone private school, Vanderbilt, and then dive into the ACC to steal Baylor's counterpart, the Baptists of the East, at Wake Forest.
This will be easy because the SEC can then snatch Georgia Tech or Miami to fill Vanderbilt's vacancy. Sure, the ACC will end up losing Wake and then another school to the SEC, but in this day and age it's all about survival, so let them deal with it. Heck, they can probably grab a program from the Big East.
OK, so now we have the Lone Star Division and what we'll call the America Division with Vandy, Wake, BYU and Northwestern.
Need a TV deal, you say? No problem. Look, only Northwestern, Vandy and Wake are making good coin in their current conferences, but I'm confident a lucrative deal can be hatched with niche-specific networks seeking to expose programming to an all new demographic. It just takes some creativity.
Since five of the eight schools are religiously affiliated, the well-heeled Trinity Broadcasting Network is a perfect fit. And because all of these fine institutions offer top-notch educations, the National Geographic Channel and BBC America (come on, both could use a ratings hike from college football) can cough up millions (think of all those new advertisers they'll attract), and of course, the myriad of ESPN channels will provide the backbone.
There you have it. The revenge of the Big Privates.
(Disclaimer: Withhold your irate emails. Above comments are not to be taken seriously. Thank you.)