Conference realignment has stolen headlines the last few weeks. The ACC added Syracuse and Pittsburgh over the weekend. The Pac-12 will stay the Pac-12. The Mountain West is still looking at a merger with Conference USA. Conference USA may be raided by the Big East.
And yes, there still is football to be played this weekend, with a top-10 matchup occuring in the Big 12 between Texas A&M, which would like to leave the Big 12, and Oklahoma State.
Here are my responses to this week’s knotmove.com Round Table. Feel free to join the discussion.
Game of the Week
Oklahoma State’s high-flying offense will look forward to getting back on a regular schedule this week with a big game at Texas A&M. The Aggies received plenty of preseason hype. Will the Aggies live up to some of those expectations or will the Cowboys pick up a key Big 12 road victory? Give us your thoughts on the game and share your official prediction.
Oklahoma State is averaging 601.00 yards per game through its first three contests of the season. The Cowboys have the No. 1 ranked pass offense in the country, averaging 408.0 yards through the air per game. And it isn’t like Oklahoma State has been playing all cupcakes. The Cowboys were able to air it out against Arizona and Tulsa, not just against Louisiana-Lafayette,
Texas A&M, on the other hand, has played Idaho and SMU.
This will be the Aggies first test of the year, and though it’s in College Station, they might just fail it.
The Cowboys offense is just too explosive for Texas A&M to keep up. Sure, the Aggies’ offense isn’t that bad—it’s not Louisiana-Lafayette—but it’s just not good enough to keep up with Oklahoma State.
The Cowboys stroll into College Station and put on a show en route to beating the Aggies.
The ACC has formally extended an invitation to Pittsburgh and Syracuse, making the conference a 14-team conference. Two parts to the question. How much of a surprise was it to see the ACC make this move, and will the conference move to 16, with UConn and Rutgers being rumored to be possible candidates?
The ACC was signaling this move, if you saw the hints along the way. Before the ACC accepted Pitt and Syracuse’s applications to join the conference, the ACC voted to up the league’s exit fee to $20 million. That alone signaled that the ACC was not going to succumb to conference raiders.
What is surprising is which teams the ACC decided to pick up. Pitt and Syracuse may have a long football tradition, but both programs have not lived up to that tradition in recent years. The move strengthens the conference in terms of its basketball standing, now knocking the Big East off its hoops pedestal. But in football, it seems that the ACC is grasping at straws.
With UConn pursuing admission into the ACC, I expect the conference to expand to 16 and become the first “super conference,” with Rutgers coming along. Still, those additions are not marquee-worthy football schools. Rutgers doesn’t even draw oohs and aahs in terms of basketball.
But 16 teams will allow the ACC to survive, and that is what this next round of conference realignment is all about.
Last week we asked how the weekend would play out for the ACC. Florida State lost the big game against Oklahoma, but Miami and Clemson picked up some good victories. Then of course there was the whole expansion news. All things considered, did the ACC succeed on making a statement on (and off) the field this past weekend?
The ACC succeeded only because it was able to secure its survival in the next round of conference realignment. The additions of Syracuse and Pitt as well as the $20-million price tag to leave the conference will make it a viable BCS conference for years to come.
With that said, the ACC is still not at the level of the SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten and even the Mountain West in terms of football. The additions of the Orange and the Panthers have now shifted the power from the Big East to the ACC in terms of which conference is considered the best basketball conference.
But Pitt and Syracuse haven’t been serious BCS contenders since the inception of the program in the late 1990s. Sure, Pitt has been to a BCS bowl game, but it was 8-3 that year and lost to Utah in the Fiesta Bowl. The Orange have never tasted the BCS.
So, the ACC will survive as we know it now. But does it mean it has gotten better as a conference? No. We’ll continue to see the ACC struggle in matchups against teams from other BCS conferences for the foreseeable future.
With the ACC raiding the Big East (again, and possibly more on the way) the future of the conference remains bleak. TCU is heading on the way in 2012, although even they may be regretting stepping in to the conference now. Notre Dame, who is a Big East member in other sports, may be seeing this as the best time to seriously consider conference affiliation. First, can the Big East survive in football? Second, will we finally see Notre Dame find a conference home in football?
The Big East may no longer be a football conference—at least as we know it now. Syracuse and Pitt and both gone. UConn is likely to follow. Rutgers seems more than probably to leave. That is half of the conference’s football-playing schools. That leaves its basketball schools with just the out-of-vogue 12 teams. There are also rumors that West Virginia may get an invite to be the SEC’s 14th team, after it accepts Texas A&M. Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson also reportedly stated that the conference is talking about re-admitting TCU, if the Horned Frogs elect to come back.
If the Big East is to survive, the only way that happens is if its remaining members combine with the leftovers from the Big 12 (Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and maybe Missouri). This way, the conference retains its basketball credibility and has enough teams to field a football conference. However, since these are the minnows of two of the weaker BCS conferences in terms of depth, the new Big East/Big 12 may not be AQ-status worthy.
If a Big 12-Big East merger is to happen, the one and only way I see this new conference retaining its AQ status is if Notre Dame decides to put its football program in the Big East as well. Notre Dame alone can and will bring the AQ status to any conference, simply because it is Notre Dame.
However, if the NCAA is moving towards super conferences, the most logical landing spot for Notre Dame is to pull its teams out of the Big East and join the Big Ten. It already has natural rivalries with a handful of Big Ten schools and plays them regularly in football.
The Big Ten may finally get its prize with Notre Dame. The question will be how will the conference fill out the rest of its roster, because the Irish will be lucky No. 13 for the B1G.
LSU has put together a solid resume early on in the season with a win against Oregon and on the road at Mississippi State. This week the Tigers travel to West Virginia for an SEC-Big East battle between top 25 teams. Can the Tigers come up with their third top 25 win of the season or can the Mountaineers pick up a big win for the Big East, a conference in need of something to smile about?
LSU has already stopped a spread offense team this season, and that team runs its spread better than West Virginia does. The Tigers opened the season with an emphatic win over Oregon. The turning point, many will point to, is when the Ducks turned the ball over twice in the third quarter. But what many may not know is that LSU’s defense held high-flying Oregon to just 15 yards in the third quarter. And the Ducks are supposed to be explosive?
West Virginia is coming off a game that it should have ran away with. It held a massive lead and its offense was clicking. Then the second half happened. After a 78-yard touchdown drive to open the third quarter against Maryland, the Mountaineers had drives of 22, 11 and -2 yards before responding with a long touchdown drive to ice the game.
If LSU was able to stuff the Oregon offense, then it should be able to stop a West Virginia offense that is prone to having lapses.
My knotmove.com Top 10 Ballot
3) Boise State
9) Texas A&M
10) Oklahoma State
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