The State of Conference Realignment Address

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 22: Fans of the Boise State Broncos react after a Broncos touchdown against the Arizona State Sun Devils was confirmed by instant replay during the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas at Sam Boyd Stadium December 22, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Boise State won 56-24. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Ready or not, here we go again. A week ago, reports were made, and rumors were spread that Boise State may consider staying in the Mountain West Conference. Apparently, that wasn't exactly the case. The biggest issue for Boise, is where to house their non-football sports. And, after San Diego State lobbied for their new buddies in the Big West to bring them aboard, Boise may be heading East after all. Or West, however you want to look at it.

The Big West Conference has given Boise St. an "assessment tool" given to all prospective candidates, and the conference is expecting to hear back by at least July 1st. The information obtained through that assessment tool will then be taken before the presidents of member universities, and the school must be approved by at least eight of the ten current members.

One would have to think Boise is all but in the Big West. A few months ago, the conference wanted nothing to do with them, but after "a quick word", and maybe even a small threat by SDSU, Boise is now back in the mix. So, what exactly does that mean for the rest of us? Well, for starters, if the conference does accept Boise, the Big East will survive. Again, for now.

A move for Boise St. and San Diego State to the Big East also means that the Mountain West will remain at 10 members in football, and 9 in basketball. The conference has already stated that they would be content in staying with those members through the 2013-14 season, but, was it all posturing? Were they just saving space in case those defecting members were to come back?

That might be the case, but at this point, it doesn't seem like they're getting ready to extend any invites for the 2013 season. It's been tossed around that both UTEP and Tulsa could potentially get the conference to 12 members, but in my own opinion, things are likely stay the way they are for the time being.

Now, the merger between C-USA and the MWC that has been dead, and alive, and dead, and alive again, could be back on. Still not immediately, but at some point in the next few years. If that were to happen, it would be very possible for a couple C-USA teams to shift west, allowing that division to get to 12 schools. C-USA, who with the possible addition of Old Dominion will be at 14 schools, could afford to lose two, making two 12 team divisions. But that's for another day.

Right now, there could be bigger issues in conference realignment. It was recently reported that Florida State was unhappy with the current TV deal for the ACC, and would be willing to consider a move to the Big 12 conference. As far as we know, no serious talks between the two parties have taken place, but a move of that magnitude would certainly open up a can of worms.

If we all remember, a similarly upset University of Miami decided it had had enough with the leadership of the Big East, and bolted for the ACC. That move, subsequently started the mass realignment of 2005. Granted, Miami's frustrations had been boiling over for years, so it's not like they just upped and left. But, times are changing, and in an atmosphere where the biggest factor is money, anything can happen.

Members of the ACC currently stand to make about $17 million per year, through 2026-27, but they are on the lower end, in comparison to the rest of the power conferences. The Big 12 for instance, is guaranteeing members roughly $20 million per year. And if additions are made, that number could potentially rise.

But there are other factors in play for FSU. First, is cost. While a move to the Big 12 may make them more money in the long run, in the short term they'd owe the ACC $20 million plus, just to leave the conference. Try that one on for size. Second, the school's major issue with the ACC is its supposed "favoritism" towards the North Carolina schools.

The good news is we all know that "favoritism" doesn't exist in the Big 12...Texas, anyone? While the member schools of the Big 12 have apparently gotten UT to agree to equal revenue sharing when it comes to TV deals, it doesn't take a genius to figure out who is in the driver's seat.

So, a decision must be made. What exactly matters when it comes to conference affiliation? Is it staying in competition with other schools in your region, maintaining rivalries, and doing what seems logical? Or, is it all about money? If its the latter, see you in the Big 12.

Regardless of whether or not Florida State decides to leave the ACC, at some point in the future, the Big 12 will make a move to get to 12 teams. It only makes sense. By NCAA rules, a conference must have at least 12 members in order to have a conference championship game in football, and for the conference, that game means a whole lot of extra revenue.

So who will be the additions? Florida State could be one. And if they were, its likely that someone like Clemson or Virginia Tech could be right behind them. The idea of Louisville and Cincinatti has been tossed around, and of course there's always BYU. Whoever, and whenever it ends up being, it will send conference expansion into overdrive once again.

In some way or another, that expansion will affect the Big East, and for them, it will be do or die time once again. Will they be able to sustain themselves by adding more schools from Conference USA and/or the Mountain West? Possibly, but the potential worth of their upcoming TV deal has to be dwindling, and at some point, as a football conference, they have to be done. Right?

Well, here's what we know. San Diego State definitely wants to be a part of the Big East, and they'll do anything to keep Boise State from turning back. Those two heading there will keep the conference breathing, for now. Because of that, C-USA and the MWC could potentially still form a 24 team league. The Big 12, at some point in the near future, will have to expand back to 12. And, what we know more than anything else, is that we have absolutely no idea what is going to happen. I guess that's just the "fun" of it.

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