As summer approaches and major college athletic conferences begin to have their annual meetings, rumors begin to fly about which schools may want to change their college affiliations. This is of particular interest if you are a West Virginia University fan. That’s because when West Virginia becomes an official Member of the Big 12 on July 1, they will be that conference’s 10th team.
For football and basketball scheduling, 10 teams make a tidy schedule. In football, a school in a 10-team conference can play every other team once a season. In basketball, teams can play the entire league each season twice in a home and home arrangement. That round robin scheduling is appealing to many fans and it is something that has been lost as athletic conferences add more and more teams in an all out cash grab.
Anyway, when WVU was added as the 10th team of the Big 12, it was widely assumed that the conference would add two teams and possibly more in the future. A move to 12 teams is almost assured, because the NCAA allows a conference to play a lucrative championship game if it has 12 teams. There is a legitimate debate if a conference championship is good for a team, or teams, in the conference that may be in the chase for a national championship. Ultimately, the game gets played because of the money it puts in the coffers of the conferences.
On to the juicy rumors, for months the two schools mentioned as most likely to become the 11th and 12th members of the Big 12 were Louisville and Brigham Young. That seems logical. Brigham Young is a national brand and it has been suspected that Louisville was promised special consideration when Senator Mitch McConnell tried to derail WVU’s entry in favor of the Cardinals last December.
BYU has seemed to fall out of the conversation, because of the possibility of being asked to play games on Sunday in the Big 12, something they won’t do. Louisville remains very much in the picture, but there has been chatter all along that Florida State and Clemson were higher on the Big 12’s wish list, but much less attainable as members of the ACC.
New TV contracts may have given the Big 12 some leverage. Depending on who is crunching the numbers, it looks like the Big 12 can offer more financial security to potential ACC defectors. The margin of that security could increase if there are no more automatic qualifiers in the BCS. Last weekend reports of FSU and the Big 12 having contact escalated in Tallahassee. The FSU president denied the reports, while some members of the board of trustees were fanning the flames. There is plenty of smoke on this one.
Not nearly as much smoke on the Clemson side of things so far, though some Big 12 bloggers continue to say the Tigers are in play. WVU fans would love to see their new conference take a couple schools from the ACC since it was the ACC that twice raided the Mountaineers’ former conference. Nothing may come of this, but it could be worth following for the next few weeks.