The Non-Expansionist’s Guide to Expansion
Vol. 2 Don’t Listen To the Media
Well, that was fast. After explaining in my first volume on why we should steer clear of the ACC’s garbage pile for picking our next teams and take a school like Tulane, the Big 12 Commissioner made a statement that expansion was now off the table. I knew my piece might have strong reactions, but to cancel expansion altogether?
Or not? Now journalists, coaches and A.D.’s are talking about Big 12 expansion as the drumbeat for Cincinnati grows louder among the disaffected masses. So why did Bowlsby say expansion was off the table? Maybe he was just blowing smoke to buy some time trying to stop people like me from pointing out what a terrible idea it is to follow the media’s plan to sink our conference. Maybe, like me, he received an overwhelming amount of emails from friendly Tulane fans and just had to make it stop anyway he could. We may never know but I do know one thing, don’t believe them when they say expansion isn’t a possibility. If ESPN has its way the Big 12 will put on the elbow & knee pads and jump in John Swofford’s dumpster hoping to find a Big Mac with just a few bites removed. Whatever we find, everybody knows that is not a sound strategy for laying the foundation of a sustainable future.
For Volume 2 I am going to expand on my first volume and take it a step further by filling in the 12th team. This school has the only resume that will help us get into the playoffs without hurting our image, and will also make divisions not only workable, but divided in a way that both divisions will remain strong. This team will allow us to have a conference where every team is guaranteed to play either Oklahoma or Texas every year, and every school is guaranteed at least one home and away game against a Texas team each year with the Red River Rivalry continued unabated. I have heard all your concerns and I will address them not individually but in a way that satisfies all of them at the same time. Prepare to be dazzled.
Those of you who have not read volume 1 you probably should. If not a quick recap about what these articles are about. I am not going to look at expansion from a short term, knee jerk reactionary viewpoint of taking whatever juco or commuter school is playing good football right now, but rather somebody who remains wholly skeptical that expansion is what ails this conference and that we should proceed with caution if we must pursue more teams. If I were calling the shots I would follow the most common sense strategy we could employ, which would be lobbying to expand the playoffs. If we are going down the expansion rabbit hole we have to do it right.
The guidelines I established in vol. 1 were simple, in fact there was only one: Stay inside the two time zones we inhabit. As mentioned in my previous article, ultimately I think we suffer from an image/leadership problem more than any other problem and essentially stretching across 3-4 time zones projects a very desperate/shaky image, and that isn’t even considering any of the logistic issues. What would you think if the PAC added Central Florida or Memphis? I bet you are not the only one who thought desperate. Having a conference that spans from Morgantown, West Virginia, to Austin Texas to Provo, Utah just screams desperation. On the plus side, it would be truth in advertising as we would be “Big”.
For this volume I am going to shift focus from the ACC’s trash heap to the media’s schools du jour and why both are equally bad news. You know, the usual joker schools they always parade out there as “the next great expansion candidates” or what not. I am not going to take a team from some ESPN bean counter’s wish list because I don’t think we should listen to people who can tell you the population density of 18-49 year olds for every county in the country, yet couldn’t tell you who Michigan’s main rival is or what “Hook ’em Horns” means. These are the people who gave us the expanded Big Ten, the expanded SEC, the expanded PAC, and the expanded Big East which became the expanded ACC. From a football fan’s perspective what do those expansions do for your interest in those conferences? Rutgers and Maryland? Pittsburgh? Missouri? Colorado and Utah? Really? They broke up huge rivalries and decades of tradition for those teams? Is that truly the best thing for the longevity of college sports? Really? Or could it be its the best thing for the short term paydays? So now these are the people we should listen to. Forget what makes sense, just look at who is currently in the demo and find out if that place has any kind of commuter school that wants to join us. They don’t have a clue about sports and they don’t care either. They will suck as much money out of the “product”, discard it when it is dry and move on to the next. Ask the Big East if you don’t believe me. They don’t care about our future. They only care about their next quarterly profit sheet.
The 12th school we need with Tulane will be revealed by understanding and addressing the problems most often cited for keeping us from the playoffs this year.
- We didn’t have a 13th game.
- We didn’t have a true champion due to lack of conference championship game.
- We didn’t have a heavy hitter brand in a year where Ohio State and Florida State jumped TCU and/or Baylor only for their names.
- All of our teams need to schedule a decent out of conference schedule because one bad schedule holds us all back.
Whatever reason or reasons you subscribe to, I get email from people claiming one of those four are what we need to address if we ever have any hope of making a post season in our lifetimes and beyond. This article will addresses all of them. The schedule issue is easy enough to solve right now without any conference intervention, but I will address a way it can be handled conference wide.
Let’s start with the obvious. Looking at that list, the first thing that jumps out to me is we don’t have a football problem. Various computer rankings and odds makers have put TCU in the top one or two of their lists with Baylor not far behind and even the
ice skating judges committee never spoke about about our conference strength being a deterrent, such as the case they were making against other conferences. So right there our problems are solvable because the product is still strong, but we just have to make the right decisions. Conferences like the ACC and Big Ten should be more concerned, but I suppose the Big Ten figures they will just continue to get in the old fashioned way by stacking the committee. Regardless, I don’t know if there are many people who believe a 1 loss Oklahoma would not be in the playoffs right now ahead of the Big Ten or ACC’s best teams. It is apparent that our best brand teams will rank ahead of their best brand team, as their best brand teams just eeked out a popularity contest against some of our smallest schools.