The Non Expansionist’s Guide to Expansion.
Vol. 1: Just Say No to Dumpster Diving from the ACC’s Rummage Pile.
A quick disclaimer: Since this is a site dedicated to the Big 12, we are going to be covering expansion from all angles. I have no doubt the Number Monkey and other talented writers for the Big 12 Fanatics will be at the forefront of all things expansion related. However, this is not going to be one of our typical expansion articles. This is a guide to expansion by somebody who doesn’t want to expand.
As some of you know, I am not a proponent of expansion but with everybody clamoring that expansion is inevitable ever since we got snubbed from the playoffs it would be foolish of me to stick my head in the sand and wish as if it can’t happen. As much I would prefer not to expand, if we must I am going to look at this from a point of view that is more long term, and not so much knee jerk for what works better for next year. So if we had to expand this is what we should do.
The first thing that needs to be clear is that we cast our lot when we chose West Virginia. We have to stay east of the Mountain Time zone. Spanning three time zones and the majority of the country is impractical and comes off as a Conference USA’esqe type desperation. Thinking otherwise is just using football goggles and not long term health of the conference.
So with those schools out of the way, if we focus on the two time zones we currently inhabit and also teams that are available yesterday preferably, we have UConn, Memphis, Cincinnati, Eastern Carolina, Central Florida, and Southern Florida. I don’t see how adding any of those schools are going to improve our conference in any way at all other than adding a warm body. UConn would probably be the closest because it is a state flagship, but the idea to expand with schools like Cinci or Memphis is akin to the idea that if only the Titanic had more trash It would have floated. When people compare Cincinnati or Memphis to Louisville they are kidding themselves. No matter their conference Louisville has always had an athletic department that would spend big money. It is safe to say, given the current landscape we missed out on taking Louisville. If the brain trust knew we were eventually going to 12, we made a huge mistake by not bringing them in for team #11 when we could have.
So with any respectable or even mediocre programs off the table, everybody has begun searching to find the next great football power by turning over every directional, city or commuter school that even the lowly ACC deemed football unworthy and hoping by some miracle we find a diamond. I think that is the wrong direction to go. If the ACC considered you and said no, us even showing interest is like inviting an Ebola patient to your bobbing for apples party.
What the Big 12 needs is something that would not look like a black stain on our conference. What we need is a Vanderbilt or Northwestern type program. West Virginia fans may not remember, but the Big 12 used to have a Vandy but then they went all Baylor on us. We need a program that the school itself is not embarrassing while providing a patsy on the field. We don’t need any more difficult schools. The other conferences are loaded with patsies and they did just fine. We also don’t need any commuter school, football wanna be’s who are more known historically for scandals than anything they have accomplished athletically.
Now this may seem crazy so hear me out, but If we are going to take a project, I would much rather have a respected institution like Tulane. Its academics, New Orleans and their fans would be a great fit for this conference. It would add class, history and a world class destination city with an NFL stadium and an NBA arena to hold any event we could think of. No offense to my friends in Kansas City or Dallas, but the Big 12 Championship game or Big 12 tournament on Bourbon Street would be an annual must attend event.
Why be water boarded with the ACC’s discarded swill when we could be sipping fine bourbon? Why eat chili that has been dumped on spaghetti served on a paper plate when we could be eating deep fried pork boulettes, gumbo, etoufee, Jambalaya, muffulettas, beignets, po-boys, king cakes and some of the greatest cuisine and drinks this country has to offer? Now before you all start firing off emails about what a genius I am, let’s look a closer look at Tulane.
Athletic wise, to put it mildly, they are kind of a mess, but I don’t really know if that is a bad thing. Having Kansas and Iowa State in football to kick dirt in their face is immensely satisfying, but even that is not enough to satisfy the most craven among us. Think of Tulane as our respectable academic, yet completely uncoordinated brother who lives in a city we all like to party and congregate in. Keep in mind, if we are talking about teams like Memphis or Cincinnati, just be honest and admit that neither most likely is going to be a football powerhouse. Will they immediately be better than Tulane? Probably, but do we even want that? I say we want a patsy. Again, the other conferences are loaded with them and it hasn’t hurt them.
Their football stadium, Yulman Stadium is admittedly small with a current capacity of just 30k, but it is brand new (opened September 2014) and appears to have the ability to expand pretty easily by adding second level seating areas around the rest of the stadium. It has all the features you would expect in a brand new stadium like a club seating, party decks, a 94-by-24-foot LED video board and features a panoramic view of the New Orleans skyline. So if you can get past its size, it is in a football hungry region in a destination city located on a campus and it’s brand new with room to expand.
They also have a size issue with their basketball arena, Devlin Fieldhouse, which only holds 3600 people. It opened in 1933 and looks like a beautifully maintained historical brick fieldhouse, but my high school had a bigger
arena gym than that. According to their wiki site it has room to expand after some massive renovations were done to the building a few years ago, but as of now it is woefully small. Or I suppose you could say it is intimate, historical, and located in New Orleans. Sounds good to me. I don’t know if their plans to expand would be to pop the top, but judging by the building that would make the most sense, which would bring it to TCU type capacity. The basketball arena may not be ideal by today’s standards, but hardly a deal breaker.
Now if you want to make the argument that LSU owns Louisiana that is missing my point. I am not arguing that we do this to lay claim to Louisiana or even the city of New Orleans. Most people in Illinois are Illini fans and most people in Tennessee are Vol fans. That hasn’t stopped Vandy and Northwestern from finding a home in a P5. In my opinion we should try to find the best school with the most potential to enhance our conference and that means a school whose credentials won’t embarrass us, to give us a great city with a new football stadium, open up a potential new recruiting ground and a chance to rack up some wins.
Would it be mocked by some? At first, but eventually they would be considered one of those brainy P5 schools that everybody gives a pass to. On the other hand we could make a desperate move to find the next big thing in football from the ACC rubbish pile that would always stand out like a sore thumb among our flagship and esteemed institutions. Once we open that door we become the new Big East.
So with #11 out of the way, it is #12 where you have the extreme problem. UConn for their flagship status and basketball royalty? Memphis or UCF for their destination cities? USF for its recruiting?
UAB for its up and coming program? This is why I don’t want to expand. The teams are all terrible or in UConn’s case a terrible fit. Personally, I would rather take another prestigious school like Navy to fill in to 12 than one of those schools mentioned above. I just really think taking the ACC’s left overs is a short sighted and ill-advised strategy. Ultimately if forced with taking somebody from the trash heap, I would probably hold my nose and go with UConn. It makes absolutely no sense, but neither do the rest. Ultimately it doesn’t lower the quality of schools in the Big 12 the way the other directional/commuter schools would. In the long run I think that is important. We also get a tremendous basketball program to counter Tulane’s.
Finally, even if you disagree with my feeling that we need more patsies and you want more football powers, I honestly think Tulane has much more potential than the other schools. If private schools Baylor and TCU can become world beaters so could a school located in New Orleans in a major P5 conference. They have a brand new stadium with room to grow, they are in a city that rivals some of the best destinations on earth and they make perfect sense from a geographical perspective.
Am I arguing that Tulane is a perfect fit? No and far from it, but I wouldn’t be lobbying for any of these schools if it were up to me. Like I said, I think 10 works better. If we are forced to expand, and the options are as limited and desperate as the ones I keep hearing being thrown out there, just go with Tulane.
How is that for a slogan?
Till the next volume from The Non Expansionist’s Guide to Expansion.