Everyone knew that the last round of conference expansion left the Big 12 on shaky ground, with Nebraska and Colorado pulling chocks and Texas being allowed to start its own television network. Still, I thought we’d get through at least one season before the hate & discontent flared up again. I was wrong. Texas A&M has apparently had enough, and is once again looking like it’s headed to the SEC; if not right away, at least in the not-too-distant future. For the most part, the comings and goings of the Big 12 and SEC aren’t something I’m overly concerned about other than in a general college sports fan sense. If the Aggies do end up making the switch, though, there are ways that the fallout could potentially impact the Naval Academy.

Before the A&M story broke, the only expansion talk we were hearing was coming from the Big East. Army and Navy were part of the conversation as usual, along with regular supposed expansion targets like UCF and ECU. The conference had already added TCU and had a standing invitation to Villanova should the Wildcats choose to make the move to I-A football, although that offer was put on hold once the Big East football members realized that Villanova was actually serious about the move. The general response to the Army/Navy rumor was less than enthusiastic, which isn’t all that surprising, but doesn’t really take everything into consideration either. These moves are all dictated by television; conferences are looking to add schools that will bring more viewers and add more value when TV contract negotiations come up. To that end, a national name brand that sits within 30 minutes of two major cities, has the leverage to get a multi-year national TV contract on its own, and will appear on national network television three times this year (not including ESPN) seems like it would be worth considering. ECU and UCF don’t have any of that, let alone friggin’ Villanova. Sure, there are other considerations, and you could argue that ECU or UCF might have more drawing potential in the long run. Might. What Navy brings to the table here and now, though, shouldn’t be laughed off.

Still, if I’m the Big East, I wouldn’t bother with any of those schools at this point, including Navy. Everyone knew that the Big 12 was built on quicksand even before the Texas A&M story picked up steam. If the Aggies do end up going to the SEC, and if the SEC expands to 14 by tacking on, say, Missouri, then that whole conference could collapse. Maybe the Pac-12 will come calling for Texas and Oklahoma again. Either way, it isn’t like there’s anyone else beating down UCF’s door, so there’s no rush to add them when exercising a little patience could have half of the Big 12 falling into your lap. Imagine a conference with Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, TCU, Cincinnati, and Louisville in one division, and Syracuse, West Virginia, Pitt, Rutgers, UConn, and USF in the other division. That’s a great football conference and an elite basketball conference.  It also adds way more TV revenue potential than any of the other rumored targets would, since it would create a demand for the Big East in areas of the country where none exists now. I know that the Big East is trying to squeeze everything it can out of its next TV contract, but adding another Conference USA school isn’t going to do anything to support that cause. The smart move for the conference is to wait this one out.

What if they don’t? What if they decide they want Navy? I don’t think they will, but let’s assume they do. My feelings on the matter are unchanged. Navy would get a lot more money in the Big East, no doubt. The problem is that there is only so much that the Navy football program would be able to do with all that money. It wouldn’t change the service commitment, academic standards, or military lifestyle that scare away recruits now. By joining a league with other programs that don’t share those challenges, you set yourself up for failure. That doesn’t mean the idea should be completely dismissed, though. If the time comes when it appears that the BCS schools will break away from the NCAA to form their own organization, then I think you have to consider joining a conference if it would keep you in the top tier of college football (I’m not convinced that it would). But until you’re certain that’s the case,  it’s better to stay independent.

So keep an ear to the ground when it comes to the Texas A&M fallout. Everyone will be affected by it. The only question is to what extent.

23 thoughts on “THIS AGAIN

  1. Dave'69

    Our win-loss record over the last ten years tends to attract interest as well, especially when the potential future opponents in a conference can rationalize our independent SOS and assume we would be a W for their school.
    I can’t find anything wrong with your analysis. As you indicated, the Big East has the advantage of sitting back and waiting to see what is happening before they start making phone calls – and so does Navy. In the meantime, let’s have another successful season.

  2. Phil D

    I think the only way Navy (and Army by extension) gets invited to the Big East is if Notre Dame is given an ultimatum to join in football or dropped in the other sports and I don’t see that happening any time soon. I believe Notre Dame, Navy, and Army are tied together at the hip more or less in all this expansion talk.

  3. tphuey

    For now, I want to stay independent. I believe our success depends on our flexibility in being able to schedule to the 4-4-4 formula that has been so successful for us. In a conference, we lose that flexibility.

    Some will argue that making our schedule gets tougher every year, especially when you consider all the conference tie-ins that other teams have due to conference expansion.

    I guess we have to wait and see.

  4. GoalieLax

    only thing I see is that the Big East isn’t going to be one of the 4 that emerge as a super conference. They’re a conference formed for basketball, with many members that just don’t compete in 1-A football, and it’s 1-A football $$$ that’s going to drive this. The Big East won’t survive a massive realignment. The ACC and B1G will pick them apart.

  5. The Big East football schools will split from the basketball schools. That’s pretty much inevitable. And if they scoop up half the Big 12, they’ll be the ones in better position to do the picking, not the ACC. I think the ACC is on way shakier ground than you want to believe.

  6. GoalieLax

    the SEC also will need teams, but they’re not going to take Miami, FSU, Clemson, or Georgia Tech from the ACC. That would dilute their brand and damage existing teams.

    The only other team that might fit the SEC from the ACC is VT, and that’s a package deal with UVA, who adds nothing to the SEC portfolio.

    I think the ACC is on firmer ground than you think. They only need 4 teams to get to the magical 16 – not the 8 (!) teams the Big East Needs.

  7. GoalieLax

    the B1G take from ACC schools? Maryland is a fringe B1G school – the onyl one that has ever come up in discussions to leave for the great white north. But if they’re going after Maryland, they’re likely going to aim at Pitt and WVU.

  8. There is nobody in the Big East that has any appeal to the SEC other than MAYBE West Virginia. I also think you’re making a lot of assumptions.

  9. GoalieLax

    whatever you say – the ACC already raided the Big East once – the BE doesn’t have the power to resist being picked apart once basketball becomes secondary in terms of conference alignment

  10. GoalieLax

    nah you’re right – look at where the Big East is today in football and where the ACC is – Big East totally won that one.

  11. Dude, I know you’re an ACC homer, but look at it for a second. The ACC is sort of set up like the Big 12. Instead of Texas calling all the shots, it’s the cabal of Carolina schools. The uneven revenue distribution isn’t there, but it affects the conference in plenty of other ways that create a bit of an “us vs. them” mentality. The expansion didn’t add nearly the value to the football product that they thought it would, and just diluted the basketball product. The Big East is a frankenconference now, but if they trimmed the fat by cutting the basketball schools and became an all-sports conference by expanding to the midwest, I think they would be in better shape for 16-team expansion over the long haul. I certainly wouldn’t feel cocky if I was rooting for the ACC, but then again I’ve never really understood rooting for a conference anyway.

  12. GoalieLax

    i’m not rooting for a conference. I’m just looking at where the Big East and ACC are, what teams are likely to get raided from where, and just happen to think that the ACC is in a better spot than the BE vis a vis expansion on football’s terms.

  13. DotBone89

    The B1G takes one from each, Rutgers and Maryland; at least. The other two, eh just now thinking about it: how about Syracuse and BC to really expand the market. Although BC kinda sucks for market draw.

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