View from the bottom: Q&A with Wright Waters, Part II

May, 14, 2010
5/14/10
4:38
PM ET
Sun Belt commissioner Wright Waters has been through conference expansion before and knows the effect it can have on college football. While he doesn't think his conference will be affected by expansion, he gives a unique perspective about the hottest topic in sports.

Here's Part II of my conversation with commissioner Waters:

Why do you think expansion talk is all starting to happen now? Why has it become the hot thing to do within the last four or five months?

WW: In the words of Deep Throat: Follow the money. It’s not rocket science. These are becoming very expensive propositions and the reasons why you may see the Big Ten and the SEC do something may be entirely different than what the next group does, which may be entirely different from what the next group does.

Is everybody really waiting on the Big Ten? I know that seems to be the popular theory, but the Pac-10 shouldn’t have to wait on the Big Ten because their areas don’t cross over.

WW: Well, that’s when you start looking at the personality of commissioners. Ultimately, it’s going to be commissioners working with presidents and again are you proactive or are you reactive? There are leagues right now that could be very proactive that are not publicly, at least, in the conversation but they may be privately working like hell.

Which leagues are we talking about?


WW: I don’t know enough to confirm it.

In the long run, who do you think this has more of an effect on? The automatic qualifiers or the nonautomatic qualifiers?

WW: I think the automatic qualifiers because of the shifting of teams from one conference to another.

Do you think the non-AQs will survive after this?

WW: Sure.

But how different do you think the landscape will be and what will the opportunities for those teams to play in the BCS be?

WW: We don’t know yet. If [Big Ten commissioner] Jim [Delany] goes to 12, you may see precious little change. If Jim goes to 16 and those dominoes start moving, you may see a lot of change. But nothing happens at the bottom. It happens at the top. It goes downhill. It’s the plumbing theory. It all flows down.

If the Big Ten went to 16 and the other conferences followed suit, the BCS would obviously have to change, right?

WW: I think that’s part of what will trigger the next round. If Jim goes to 16 then he’s not going to be happy with the rule that says you cant have but two teams in the BCS. I wouldn’t if I were him. And you know what? He’s right. With 16 quality institutions, that’s a pretty hard pill to swallow.

When do you think this will all come to a hilt?

WW: It’s the annual June story. We’ll keep talking about it for the next three months, four months and then it will get old and we’ll move on to something else.

Graham Watson | email

College Football
Watson joined ESPN.com in 2008 after four seasons covering the Missouri Tigers and the Big 12 Conference for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She also covered college football recruiting for the Dallas Morning News.
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