The Spread, Week Fourteen: Squeeze Play

EXPANSION IS BACK!

Remember when there was football season and then the off-season? And then there was football season and conference expansion season? Now there’s just constant expansion all the time, regardless of whether or not there are incredibly important games being played.

Maryland and Rutgers joined the Big Ten last week, but I had some crucial HATING to do at the time. Before I could even welcome them, the ACC added Louisville, the Big East added Tulane and East Carolina and Conference USA added some teams dear GOD MAKE IT STOP!!!!!

Expansion used to fun, that’s what I’m saying. Although, maybe “expansion” is the wrong word for it. Sure, the conferences we care about are expanding, but what’s really going in is consolidation. Take a look at the Big East lineup back in 1998, the first season of the BCS era:

Syracuse
Miami
Virginia Tech
West Virginia
Boston College
Rutgers
Temple
Pittsburgh

With the exception of Temple, who was booted from the conference in 2004 before returning this season, all of those teams will be in one of the other five so-called BCS conferences in the next few years. What’s really happening is consolidation, and maybe it stops with five conferences. The Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC are as solid as a conference can be right now. The Big 12 has a 13-year Grant of Rights shackling its teams together, and the ACC is prepping to aggressively defend its $50M exit fee as Maryland bolts.

But if the ACC loses, Florida State (the other school that voted against the exit fee) may get out before the conference becomes the New Big East (In 1998 terms, the 2014 lineup will be 57% ACC, 36% Big East and 7% Conference USA). And who knows what happens from there? The Big Ten may be interested in AAU buddies like Georgia Tech, Virginia and Jim Delany’s alma mater UNC. The SEC might like Virginia Tech and NC State to expand its footprint. And if geography goes completely out the window (and why wouldn’t it?), then four 16-team conferences are just the right size to hold the 1998 “BCS” teams (with a little room left for newbies like TCU and Boise State, or if Notre Dame is done with that independence nonsense).

CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES!

Big East of Burden: The ACC’s Louisville and the Big Ten’s Rutgers play in the kind-of Big East championship game, although I don’t really understand or care to understand the logistics of who will win the Big East under various scenarios. Thursday, 7:30pm.

The Last MACtion Hero: Kent State takes on Northern Illinois in a game between two of the MAC’s best offenses and best defenses. GIVE US OUR POINTS!!! Friday, 7:00pm.

Isn’t This Where We Came In?: UCLA at Stanford will play for the second time in six days because I guess this is baseball or something. Friday, 8:00pm.

Why You Gotta Go and Make Things So Complicated?: There is no Big 12 title game, but Texas at Kansas State and Oklahoma at TCU will serve as the deciding contests for the conference’s BCS bid. Saturday, Noon (OU/TCU) and 8:00pm (UT/KSU).

Automatic for the People: For a while, it looked like the SEC champion might actually not make the BCS title game. “Suckers” – Fate. Alabama and Georgia will face off for a shot at Notre Dame, guaranteeing that 85% of Americans will hate everyone involved in the championship game. Saturday, 4:00pm.

You Wreck Me: Georgia Tech is 6-6 and playing Florida State for a BCS spot and it has nothing to do with sanctions. This conference is so stupid. Saturday, 8:00pm.

I Don’t Belong Here… ‘Cuz I’m A Creep: Brett Bielema’s Wisconsin Badgers beat only the worst teams in a not-that-good Big Ten and lost to both of the ineligible Leaders teams. Nevertheless, Nebraska only beat them by 3 the first time, so it might be a good game. And by “good” I mean “televised.” Saturday, 8:00pm.

Comments

  1. jason… maybe soon they might take a look at the Cincinnati Bearcats again as the facility and academics are improving. Ohio fans have been denied an instate rivalry far to long. A couple years ago the Bearcats were routinely routing the likes of these new B1G expansion teams like Rutgers. A “B1G” Bearcat team under Brian Kelly certainly would have been headed to the top BCS bowl by now. Instead Ohio football fans are left empty with nothing to look forward to this holiday season and irritating Indiana fans own bragging rights to the mid-west with the number one team in the nation ironically coached by the former Cincinnati Ohio coach.
    Mentioning TCU or Boise State as possible expansion candidates is nonsense when we could be promoting a great instate rivalry enjoyed by the majority of other B1G teams.

  2. I think Cincinnati will find a spot somewhere, but it’s not going to be with the Big Ten. Obviously things can change, but if a school isn’t in the AAU right now, they’re not on Delany’s radar.

    I certainly wasn’t promoting TCU or Boise for the B1G, just acknowledging that there are some other teams who merit inclusion in a “major” conference now that didn’t in 1998. Cincinnati should probably be on that list too, but they have not accomplished as much on the field as TCU and Boise have.

    Also, there is already a fierce Bearcat/Buckeye rivalry that exists entirely in Cincy fans’ heads. It would only break their hearts if it was manifested in the real world.

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