Realignment: Where things stand now
The Pac-12 Conference's decision Tuesday night to remain at 12 teams and not take on Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State allows us to pause for a moment and assess the realignment picture in major college sports.
So where are we now?
This all seems to change by the hour, but let's break down the current state as we know it now.
What was the biggest hang-up in the Pac-12's decision not to expand?
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott couldn't get Texas to agree to equal revenue sharing with the Longhorn Network. Scott worked hard to get the Pac-12 to agree to equal shares after an era in which UCLA and USC had an advantage. The 12 remaining schools didn't want rules for 15 and another set for Texas.
What does this mean in the short-term and long-term for the Pac-12?
The league is doing just fine financially without any added expansion. The Pac-12 is due to make a boatload of cash with its $3 billion television deal for the 12 members set to kick in next year. The league is in its first season of two six-team divisions and for the first time will go through an unbalanced basketball schedule.
What does Scott think of the idea of super conferences?
He isn't against a 16-team conference, and was willing to -- and did -- look at it very seriously for the second straight year. Scott had no problem with four sets of four-team pods to help with scheduling and he was plenty intrigued with adding the states of Texas and Oklahoma. But he wasn't going to recommend expansion if there wasn't an agreement on equality of revenue.
What's the Big 12's future?
Texas wanted to stay in the Big 12, keep the Longhorn Network and maintain its rivalries. Oklahoma certainly explored its options, but never completely ruled out staying in the Big 12. Texas Tech and Oklahoma State weren't going to go separately without Texas and Oklahoma (as if that was an option). The athletic directors at the other five schools -- Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State and Baylor -- didn't want to leave in the first place. So if the nine remaining schools can get their house in order, then the Big 12 is saved again. That means probably some more equitable sharing with Texas. This may also allow Texas A&M to leave the Big 12 for the SEC in time for the 2012 season. Iowa State, Baylor and Kansas were balking at the SEC's request to waive the right to sue, but the decision by the Pac-12 to stay put may expedite the Aggies' departure and encourage those other schools to breathe easier and waive their rights to sue.
If the Big 12 is safe with the remaining nine teams, then who will be the 10th?
The Big 12 athletic directors were seeking a 10th team before Oklahoma started this latest chaos by saying it would like to explore its options. The ADs called Arkansas (no), BYU (maybe) and never got to the Big East options of Pittsburgh (now off to the ACC), Louisville (available) and West Virginia (available). BYU is an independent in football and its other sports are now in the West Coast Conference after playing in the Mountain West previously. If the Big 12 stays with its original targets, then BYU would be first up followed by Louisville and/or West Virginia. But those three schools, let alone one of them, would have to be assured that the Big 12 will stick together. There's always a chance the Big 12 could go for all three to get back to 12.
What's the future for Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe?
The Oklahoman reported that Beebe has to be out as commissioner for OU to stay put. Regardless, Beebe will have to do a lot of massaging to repair the egos in the conference and get better revenue sharing, especially from Texas. Beebe got a contract extension last year, but it may be hard for him to hold onto his job. The Big 12 may need a clean slate to move forward after Beebe took a number of hits recently. He is also a member of the NCAA tournament men's basketball selection committee. The current chair is Jeff Hathaway, who is now unemployed after being forced to retire at Connecticut as athletic director.
What happens in the Big East?
The Big East has stated that it will force Pitt and Syracuse to honor its bylaw which mandates that no team can leave for 27 months after announcing its intentions to go. That would leave Syracuse and Pittsburgh in the league for through the 2013-14 season. But everything is negotiable. No one wants multiple lame-duck seasons. And the Big East has to decide if it wants to add schools, so it can't have instability either. The league is saying after a meeting Tuesday night that it has commitments from seven schools. But privately Connecticut wants to be in the ACC. Rutgers would love to get an invitation, too. It's simple: The Big East has to add football schools. The question is how stable are the current teams. Louisville, West Virginia, UConn, Rutgers and TCU (still in the MWC but joining in 2012) all may have options, leaving Cincinnati and South Florida with not a lot to choose from. The Big East might pursue adding Navy and Air Force and could look at East Carolina or Central Florida as well. But would any of those schools join a Big East football conference that won't be stable because a number of teams want out to the ACC or the SEC?
What are the chances the ACC stays at 14?
The ACC doesn't have to add two more schools. If Notre Dame were to decide tomorrow it wanted to go to the ACC, then obviously it could join. But the ACC can grab Connecticut and Rutgers whenever it wants, so there is no rush. This will cause plenty of angst on both campuses since they could be in limbo until the ACC decides if it wants to be the first 16-team conference.
What will the SEC do for a 14th team?
The SEC has said publicly it may stay at 13 with the addition of Texas A&M. It's possible. The SEC can take its time in deciding if it would add Missouri or even look again to West Virginia, which it has recently rejected. Grabbing Virginia Tech will be tougher with a $20 million exit fee being proposed in the ACC. Missouri will have to decide here soon if it's going to make a long-term commitment to the Big 12 now that the Texas and Oklahoma schools seem to be set.
What will Notre Dame do?
The Pac-12's decision to stay at 12 and the Big Ten not making any expansion moves leaves the Fighting Irish with two choices -- stay as a football independent and remain with the non-FBS playing schools in the Big East or bolt to the ACC. The Irish want to stay independent. That option should still be there for Notre Dame. As for the rest of the sports, notably men's and women's basketball, Notre Dame still fits with schools such as Marquette, DePaul, Georgetown, Villanova and St. John's -- all currently in the Big East.
What happens to the non-FBS Big East schools?
If Big East football can't survive, those schools can keep the Big East name, possibly the Madison Square Garden tournament and thrive as a solid basketball league, especially if they were to add Xavier, Butler, etc. Villanova, though, wants to be in a group that plays football as the Wildcats fancy themselves as viable candidates for the ACC or another conference that plays major college football. That might be a tough sell since the Wildcats aren't there yet, even with Philadelphia as a major media market.
Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
MORE COLLEGE SPORTS HEADLINES
- No. 1 seed UNC eliminates LSU from CWS
- UCLA hangs on, inches closer to CWS final
- Mississippi State rallies in 8th to stay perfect
- Oregon State eliminates Louisville at CWS