Conference realignment is pretty much the hot topic in college sports right now, and understandably so. They are calling it Big 10 expansion, but it's going to change the landscape of college athletics in my opinion. Conferences will just want to expand.
When I first came here, I hadn't previously followed college sports, and I thought the idea of playing Nebraska, Texas, and Oklahoma in football was cool.... Until I actually saw us lose handily to these teams. It pretty much sucks when you can pencil in automatic losses to those teams, but that's the reality of Iowa State Athletics.
After realizing how the Big 12 works with revenue sharing, and things of that nature, I realized how crappy of a situation Iowa State is in. Let's face it. There is a high correlation between revenue dollars and winning. It isn't automatic (see Notre Dame), but if you can bring in the cash, you have a much better chance of being competitive, than not. Notre Dame hasn't been hitting their mark, but they are able to attract top quality candidates for the job.
The Big 12 is all about
the rich Texas getting richer, as most of you know. In this kind of a situation, as far as football is concerned, Iowa State is never going to take the proverbial "next step". They just aren't. I could see them one day getting to the title game (assuming the North continues to suck like it has the last 7-8 years), but they aren't ever going to be in the same class as some of the other schools in the south, with this model.
A few years ago, I started really realizing all of this, and I wanted Iowa State to move to the Big 10. I know ISU fans like to resent the Big 10, but over there, you have teams like Indiana and Northwestern bringing in more dollars off of their Big 10 TV contract than Iowa State is bringing in their total football revenue. There are still juggernauts (Ohio State, Penn State), but there are also teams we could compete with on a regular basis (Minnesota, Indiana, Northwestern, etc).
Geographically it makes more sense to play Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Northwestern etc., than it does playing Texas, and Texas A&M. If we played in the Big 10, I'd go to road games, and other conference events as well. I have never been to an ISU road game, simply because I don't really care to travel to Nebraska, KU, or K-State. Traveling to the south teams don't make economic sense for me to go down there for a game. If Missouri and Nebraska join the Big 10, the geographical argument is even stronger. ISU would be in a position where all of the neighboring states had teams in different conferences. That would be disappointing.
With other sports, ISU would fit as well. For example, a majority of the Big 10 has wrestling still, which would be more fun for our wrestling fans here. A big reason why I don't have wrestling season tickets, is that there are so few duals (since there are only 5 Big 12 schools), so they participate mostly in tournaments outside the state. Additionally, if we joined the Big 10, ISU would be more exposed in areas where there happen to be a lot of D-1 recruits.
I just think it would be a good fit on many levels, except for the most important one: money towards the Big 10.
Iowa State does not add anything economically to any conference to be honest, and that is what scares me.
Theoretically, I'm all for changing up conferences. In fact, I'm more for having 8-10 "super conferences" that have automatic BCS bowl game berths, as I think it'd be better for college football (for college basketball it would be great as well, but football is the main reason why all of this craziness is happening). But that is provided that Iowa State lands in one of those conferences too. If that's the case, I'm fine with whatever happens, and it's all just about the details.
I've also thought about what could possibly happen, and the possibilites are indeed endless at this point. Here are a couple of scenarios that I came to mind, based on what we know today, and my thoughts about them:
Best case scenario for Iowa State:Big 10 expansion includes Missouri and/or Nebraska, Colorado goes to the Pac 10. Big 12 south remains in tact.
The Big 12 would then be shooting to add 2 or 3 new teams, from the pool of schools from, like Air Force, Utah, BYU, Colorado State, Boise State, Arkansas, Memphis, Houston, TCU, etc.
Any of the southern teams would likely trigger someone like Oklahoma or Oklahoma State being moved to the North.
The Big 12 is still around, and while it would suck to have North teams potentially so far away, it would still be a decent conference.
One factor about this scenario, however, is that if the Pac 10 adds Colorado, are they going to add just 1 more school, or will they expand to 14-16 teams? If so, they are going to try and get WAC and MWC teams as well. Hard to know how the conference would shake out.
Either way, the Mountain West as we know it changes, with the top football schools (Utah, BYU, TCU, etc) wanting to move to a BCS qualifying conference. Only way to not change anything too drastically, is to make the Mountain West an automatic BCS qualifier as well.
Worst Case scenario for Iowa State:Big 10 expansion includes Missouri and Nebraska, Colorado goes to Pac 10, Texas along with some of the other south schools go to different conferences as well, thus killing the Big 12:
Who knows what exactly would happen if this were the case? Iowa State could find themselves in a non-BCS conference. Honestly, it'd be hard to get excited about Iowa State athletics for me. The revenue dropoff would be extreme, and will be unable to support coaching staffs with seven figure salaries. It'd be pretty much the death of ISU athletics, and I don't want to think about that too much. I'd still want ISU to do well, but my support would be minimal beyond that. I only bring up this scenario because it is plausable, and nobody owes Iowa State anything.
While I'm not a fan of the Big 12 in how it's run, being in a BCS conference with an economic disadvantage is better than not being in a BCS conference at all.
Not Ideal But Acceptable Scenario: Big 12 gets blown up, but Iowa State finds themselves in a new conference with some Big 12 teams (Kansas, K-State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State), and adds teams from what's left of the MWC, and CUSA (UNLV, BYU, Memphis, etc). It becomes more of a basketball than a football conference.
There are many other scenarios. It's still too early to speculate what all will happen. Either way, whatever ends up happening, will have an impact on ISU. It could work out, or we could get the "ass-end" of all "ass-ends" with this. We will likely see how good of an AD Jamie Pollard is, and what he can do.
If you're an ISU fan, praying is strongly recommended at this point.