With conference realignment looming on the horizon, it appears that there are a number of schools that are see the writing on the wall and are deciding where they want to be rather than wait for the conferences to determine who they want to add. With the dust starting to settle, it appears that the big 4 conferences going forward may very well be the Big 10, ACC, SEC, and PAC 12. The movements toward this goal are as follows: Florida State will join TAMU is asking for acceptance in the SEC and be approved. Pittsburgh and Syracuse have asked and will be invited to the ACC. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will request a formal invite from the PAC 12 on Monday. This will be quickly followed by Texas and Texas Tech requesting a PAC 12 invite. Texas will be required to modify the Longhorn Network to include Tech but will do so knowing that it is their best option. This leaves at the following conferences: ACC (13 teams) - Boston College, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, NC State, Duke, Wake Forest, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami Big 10 (12 teams) - Penn State, Indiana, Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Northwestern, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska SEC (14 teams) - Florida, Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Arkansas, LSU, TAMU PAC 12 (16 teams) – Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, USC, CAL, Stanford, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State This leaves 9 more seats at this game of musical chairs and a number of larger programs looking to get in them. The following are AQ schools left looking to get one of those chairs: Rutgers, Connecticut, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Louisville, South Florida, Norte Dame, TCU, Baylor, Iowa State, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, BYU, Boise State As strange as it may sound, some logic with respect to regional-ness of conferences for travel costs, and the ability to actually develop a sense of rivalries may be the underlying forces. These forces leave BYU and Boise State in relative bad situations because they are too remote from any conference looking to add members. With this approach, Rutgers, U Conn, and West Virginia complete the ACC. Without additional conference raiding (there will be raiding), the SEC will add 2 from the following Missouri, Baylor, TCU, Louisville, Cincinnati, and South Florida. Adding private schools would most likely be down the list along with adding a 3rd school from one state. This leaves Missouri, Louisville and Cincinnati as the better options. Louisville is already a rival of SEC school – Kentucky and seems to be a good fit. I believe Missouri would prefer to be in the Big 10 - the matchups are more historical and regional. That leaves the Big 10 and its need for 4. Based on the direction things are moving, there are 5 realistic schools that could fill the slots, Iowa State, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, and you guessed it Norte Dame. In the end, it appears that there are either just enough chairs for us, or one of the conferences ends up deciding between ISU, Louisville and Cincinnati for 2 of the last 3 chairs. If that happens, I like Iowa State’s odds. In addition, there is a very real potential that even with the advent of the super-conference that Norte Dame remains independent - their situation is unlike any other program with their contract with NBC. It is entirely possible that they use that relationship to keep things just the way they want them. If that happens, ISU’s chances of remaining in an AQ conference are very good. I do not profess to be a wizard or soothsayer so the final layout may be somewhat different. However, the winds do seem to be blowing in this direction, all I hope is that when the dust settles, ISU will remain a tier one program.
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