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May 10, 2010

It really does seem to be it’s own beast now.

The reports are swirling that offers have been made. Honestly, while the story may be close to what could ultimately be reality — Nebraska, Mizzou, Rutgers and then a last chance offer to ND followed by one more team if they say yes — I don’t believe anything has actually happened yet. It doesn’t pass the smell test — right down to the outlet reporting the story.

So, another round of speculating and dreaming…

Rice and the University of Houston are wondering where they will land. Houston fantasizes on moving up, while Rice seems realistic.

UH and Rice got their fill of change when the Southwest Conference splintered in the 1990s. Rice drifted to the Western Athletic Conference, then Conference USA.

Though UH has been a member of C-USA since 1996, the school has made little secret its desire to move up in the athletic pecking order. Rhoades’ predecessor, Dave Maggard, made public last spring a five-year plan that included moving to a more prestigious conference.

“We’re in Conference USA,” Rhoades said. “It’s a great conference. We’re proud to be members of it. But certainly, you’re always looking to better yourself.”

Well, I’m sure the Mountain West will be calling soon enough.

Sticking with C-USA teams, East Carolina sees itself in the next round of expansion unless things go horribly wrong.

THE BIG EAST FOLDS: This is the absolute worst-case scenario for East Carolina. Should the Big Ten take three or more Big East members and another league, such as the ACC, scoops up a few more, the Pirates would likely find themselves without an AQ option.

Sure, there is the optimistic view that perhaps, should a certain far-south destination freeze over, the ACC might take the Pirates should it get heavily pillaged by the SEC. But you’ll have a hard time convincing me that there is a scenario in which the ACC would consider ECU.

As far as BCS AQ conferences are concerned, it’s Big East or bust for the Pirates. And that’s assuming that the Big East would keep its AQ status, which is hardly a given. Even if it doesn’t, it would clearly be a geographic and competitive step up for the Pirates.

The writer also concedes that the fact that the basketball program remains irrelevant and the less than simple access to the Greenville location hurts them.

Don’t worry, though, a West Virginia columnist thinks ECU is the best choice from C-USA. Back in reality, the first choice from C-USA, UCF is also salivating from an interview with UCF AD Keith Tribble.

OS: Have you heard anything new about potential conference realignment this offseason?

Tribble: I think the volume in terms of who’s going where and what’s going to happen has been turned up very loud. And really, most of us are in a wait and see position. It will impact all conferences in some way depending on how the Big Ten moves.

OS: Would you consider accepting an football-only invitation to an automatic qualifying BCS conference, leaving the other sports to find another conference?

Tribble: I think it’s in our best interest to be all in one conference. We’ve stressed to our student athletes the ability for championships at the highest level. I think to have a separation of a football in one league and all the other sports in another league is something I’m not willing to consider. Now obviously that’s a decision that will be made by [UCF President] Dr. [ John] Hitt and our board, but in my conversations with him in the past it’s something that we wouldn’t want to entertain. We want to be in one conference all the time.

UCF isn’t the only one waiting to see what the Big Something does. The ACC vows to be just as active.

…Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford said here on Monday that his conference will have a plan in place should major conference expansion and realignment alter the college athletics landscape.

About the possibility of major conference realignment, which could possibly affect the ACC, Swofford told the Orlando Sentinel, “I don’t think any conference would be doing its due diligence if you stuck your head in the sand, so to speak. And we will not do that.”

Swofford seems to expect that everything will really start to shake out within the next six months. That fits with nearly everyone else expecting the Big Something to make its expansion plans known well before December.

Meanwhile down in West Virginia, they can only sit on the sidelines and wait as their president essentially admitted.

Q. How do you think the Big 10 expansion efforts will affect the Big East in general and WVU in particular?

A. All indications are that the Big 10 is going to expand. So all of us in major athletic programs are watching very closely to see what happens.

We don’t know whether they will add one team, three teams or five teams. It will depend on how many they will add. So we’re watching very closely.

As you know, some of the other conferences like the SEC and ACC have now said ‘we might expand.’

If it’s one school, that won’t have much of an effect across other conferences. But if it’s multiple schools, then many conferences could be affected from the Big 12 to the Big East to the SEC and the ACC. We simply don’t know.

What I can tell you is that we’re following that very closely. We’ve had a lot of discussions across the country with presidents and athletic directors just to get their feel for if something like five teams get into the Big 10, what would that mean to all of us and how are we going to respond?

I think it’s going to happen maybe more quickly — the Big 10 has said 12 or 18 months. They’re diligently trying to determine which schools might be good academic and athletic additions.

So we’re going to keep our eyes on it closely.

I think the answer is, we are watching and praying. Heck of a time for Ed Pastilong to start his farewell year as WVU athletic director.

Agree about the outlet. Someone wake me when someone credible reports more than what was said on a Kansas City AM station.

Comment by Bryan 05.10.10 @ 7:37 pm

I couldn’t agree more, Brian. This ain’t real.

But if it is real, you still have to think that Pitt is going to get the next invitation. If ND says no (and I still think they will), were next. And if ND says yes, the Big Ten is allegedly then going to invite another team anyway just to make it to 16 teams. And again, that will likely be Pitt.

But there I go again, responding to non-information like everyone else. This isn’t real. This is rumors on a Kansas City AM station, which is an even smaller media market than Pittsburgh, fer chrissakes.

Comment by Lee in Altoona 05.10.10 @ 7:43 pm

Please tell me the people in the higher ups have a back up plan, if this is true, and if the next team is Syracuse or UCONN??? I have visions of E.Carolina, Memphis and C.Fla. in my head, Temple returning, Villanova trying to move up. Tell me if this turns upside down, someone at the top has been in secret negotiations with someone from the ACC at least. I know it’s all garbage, but, I would have felt better about the garbage if Pitt’s name was on that list. Please tell me Pitt, UCONN and Syracuse have been pro-active and will come out swinging with something better than Marshall and Fla. Atlantic joining the B.E.!!!

Comment by Dan 05.10.10 @ 10:11 pm

I still doubt that the big-preten wants Rutgers. They are using the threat Of Rutgers and several other BE teams to kill the B-East to force ND into joining their party. ND along with Missouri and Nebraska make sense.

The B-10 will still make a bundle of $$$$ with ND and UPS on pay for view in the NY market if the BTN is not in NY market.

The BE better pray that the SEC does not raid them for WV, that would doom the BE if ND rejects the B-10 and they they take Rutgers in its place.

joepud wants several BE teams [not Pitt] in the B-10 for recruiting, travel, and soft games. I doubt the powers to be in the B-10 shares his view. Thats why Neb., Missouri, and ND makes sense.

Comment by joel 05.10.10 @ 10:21 pm

I believe that all of the talk is just that…TALK! Nothing has been decided!! Rumors feed on rumors.
If, however, Pitt was to be bypassed by the Big 11+ and for some reason left out of the ACC it would (let’s be honest about this)a total disaster for Pitt football. There is no other way to look at it because the Central Florida’s, East Carolina’s and Temple’s of the football world are the minor leagues. In effect it would
end Pitt’s football tradition. The league would be so weak that the BCS would be out of the question and Heinz Field would be completely empty. If you think attendance of 38,000 is bad for a Syracuse game, imagine the 11,200 at an East Carolina game.
Pitt belongs in the ACC a league with reasonable travel distances (yes, I know about Miami and Florida State, strong academics and excellent basketball!
The ACC would gain entry into a large TV market and add a nationaly recognized academic University with solid athletic tradition.

Comment by Isnore 05.10.10 @ 10:31 pm

Absolutely, nail on the head, Isnore!! Been saying this since Feb., took a few jabs about worrying too much…..(good Lord, that is not an ‘I told you so’ to those that did) that is the last thing I’m worrying about. My feeling of doom is worsening!! Yes, it’s all talk, but, I’ve been thinking all along that the B10 would shoot for a June or July announcement, to get going with things, and some teams will have a year or two of obligations and fines, they want to get going by 2012. Go ahead, tell me I’m over-reacting, (I realize just a sport, compared to global thermo nuclear war, this is nothing), but in the Pitt sports world, this is huge. Ya,I know, I’ve said a few times, about having to watch E.Carolina, Memphis, C.Fla, Fl Atlantic and maybe Temple, I just had an ephiphany…….I won’t be watching them. It’s a nightmare, gonna wake up and be told Syracuse and Pitt have also been invited!!! I’ve been following this all along, somethin’, just somethin’ about todays leak, seemed about right. Use Rutgers to smoke out ND etc. etc. Almost middle of May allready, me thinks things are rollin’! Over the next month or two of course, but, these are how offers are started, and away we go, I can hear it now on the radio…….”Notre Dame declined, and Syracuse was offered”, bleed blue and gold like the rest of you, just starting to pucker up a little bit more…………

Comment by Dan 05.11.10 @ 12:58 am

I may blather too much, and too often, but, there may not be much to blather about soon……..Ok, I know, boys up in skyscaper got us covered, going to bed, confident in the lads!!!

Comment by Dan 05.11.10 @ 1:02 am

Never mind, from Fan House:

UPDATE: Now, the Big Ten itself has reportedly offered up their own denial. Not only that, commissioner Jim Delany has publicly stated he would contact the commissioners of affected conferences before going after specific schools in any expansion plans, and that he has not done so to this point. Clearly, nothing even remotely imminent is in the works just yet.

Comment by steve 05.11.10 @ 7:48 am

This is the 3rd time I’m writing this in the past few weeks …….. Chill Out, People!

I’ve forgotten all my stats courses but this was just another speculative story of hundreds … since there are about 10 candidates and up to 5 teams being considered by the B10, at a minimum, the number of scenarios is 5 factorial which is 120. That was the easy way out … actually it is probably much more than that wuth ten possible candidates .. maybe 10 factoral divided by 5 factoral .. I’m sorry but it has been decades since I’ve done this.

but the bottom line is that apparently we are going to have live thru each possible scenario many times, all of them so far based solely on rumor, until the freakin’ B10 finally makes their announcement.

Thus, my advice is to save your bridge or cathedral jumping until the actual announcement is made .. when another possible sceanrio may prevail — much ado about nothing!

Comment by wbb 05.11.10 @ 8:12 am

Something is going on, per a reliable Big 12 connection here in Texas, the Big 12 has been proactive and is in negotiations to finalize adding TCU and BYU to replace Missouri and Nebraska who are leaving for the Big 10.

The only other news I heard here is that Rutgers is a lock for the Big 10 and ND is a possibility.


Comment by The Oakland Jew 05.11.10 @ 8:32 am

No Cathedral jumping, just interest, that’s all. All doom and gloom aside, eventually, when the Big 10 makes an announcement, you will be able to look back at the previous day or days, and realize, that one of the “late breaking rumors”, was in fact, the correct one!! Also, I don’t think it’s crazy to believe that something will be happening in the next few weeks, month at the most. If it’s gonna happen this year, it’s gonna happen shortly. If was gonna happen next year, whether you like them or not, the Big 10 would have come out and had a press conference, for all concerened and said, “nothing will be happening, at all, until next summer”. I know they give that 12-18 month thing, but, other people in higher places would have told them, go put the fire out, at least for a year, so people don’t have to scramble. No, I’m not jumping off the Cathedral, very minor stuff compared to life, but the music seems to be slowing down, hope we’re not left standing with Temple and Fla. Atlantic!!

Comment by Dan 05.11.10 @ 11:28 am

Entertaining reading? No! Amusing thoughts? Yes!Indeed Shakespeare and wbb have it right—“Much ado about nothing”. However, gentlemen(and perhaps a lady or three) let’s face it the speculation about expansion is a sportswriter’s bread and butter. Why even UAL and Continental could merge before the Big Eleven movers and shakers get their act together. Meanwhile, the Big Ten TV network is in their counting house tallying up their profits. George

Comment by rev. george mehaffey 05.11.10 @ 11:53 am

“Much ado about nothing”??? Fantastic!!! I’ll remember that in two years when I’m watching Pitt play Temple and Central Florida in conference games!!!

Comment by Dan 05.11.10 @ 3:56 pm

What I’m really trying to say that it is crazy to take anything seriously since there has been just so much written … and the story seems to change all of the time. Does the latest rumors make sense … but so did many of the early stories.

Yet, in the few times that Delany has actually spoken, he has said practically nothing. Sure, an announcement can come as early as next week … but until that time comes, it is nuts to take anything you have heard to heart.

Comment by wbb 05.11.10 @ 6:58 pm

Hey, I agree with you guys, not picking a fight, I bleed blue and gold like all of us on here. Just wish they would go ahead and do it allready, so we can all see where we stand. I’ve used this ad nauseum, but, when the music stops, you want to be standing with Mich,PSU,Minn, Iowa, or Duke, N.C.,Mia and Fla St., as opposed to a beat up B.E.!! Hey, maybe if they only take Rutgers, something can be saved. In this case, I hope they are looking pro-actively, and getting the football moving, not just a team, get it up to 12 teams, championship game in Yankee stadium, add Navy and Army, just thoughts, do something exciting!!!! Innovate, have a dual conference with the Mntn West and have a champ game, can’t come out of this with just an 8 team blip. Hey, no problem, respect all of your opinions, it’s not the Arab-Israeli conflict, but, as a Pitt fan, it has to have you interested.

Comment by Dan 05.12.10 @ 12:50 am

P.S. what I meant by an 8 team blip, is being irrelevant. No, just adding teams isn’t the answer, I know they have to be half-decent and profitable, but, just as a fan, look at the conference standings online or in the paper, you look at the B.E., it even looks irrelevant with just 8. Sophmoric I know, but, true. You look at the B.E. hoops standings the same way, very relevant. Again, I know it’s not just numbers. Maybe Steve has something up his sleeve?? I hope so.

Comment by Dan 05.12.10 @ 12:56 am

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