A few news items crossed this past week that piqued my conference realignment interests again.
First, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the SEC and The American have agreed to a basketball scheduling deal that will see teams from both leagues schedule home-and-homes with one another over the next few years.
Second, according to Sports Business Journal, the Big 12 announced a media deal with ESPN that essentially turns ESPN+ into a de facto Big 12 Network. Every Big 12 Championship will be on ESPN, and there will be a “Big 12-branded area” on ESPN+, carrying tons of events for all schools.
So I thought it was time to hop back on the Reckless Speculation-mobile once again.
I have a friend who I have referred to previously as my “Guy Who Knows Things.” Some years ago I asked him about what he thought the power conference teams might do come the next TV contract re-shuffle. He told me something I always kept in the back of my mind:
“If you want to know which conferences the Big 12 schools think they might be in during the next cycle, look at the Power Conference Schools they’ve got on the upcoming schedules,” he said.
I’ve written before that the Big 12 as we know it is living on borrowed time, with a possible expiration date of 2025 (and that maybe the UCF Knights should not jump in that boat even if offered). In that piece, I said that Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, and possibly Texas Tech and/or Kansas State might dip out for someplace else. But where?
If their future football schedules give us any hints, they are juicy hints indeed:
Big 12 Future P5 Non-Conference Football Games by Opponent’s Conference
If these numbers are any indication of who’s flirting with who (and they probably are not), then it seems that:
- Texas and Oklahoma are trying to play nice with the SEC first and the Big Ten next.
- Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are buttering up with Pac-12 schools, with whom they’ve already flirted once.
- Kansas State for some reason likes heading west.
- West Virginia longs to be closer with its old East Coast pals in the ACC.
- Nobody cares about Kansas Football (In reality they have four ACC games, and two each against the Pac-12 and B1G, but they’re mostly against bottom-feeders and fellow travelers in mediocrity).
A reminder: This is strictly reckless, evidence-free speculation based on zero reporting and my own nerdy curiosity.
But one reason The Guy Who Knows Things pointed me in this direction is simple: Finances. If you change conferences, the fewer games you have to re-shuffle, the better. Another is familiarity: Building your relationships with schools in a new league will help come negotiation and voting time.
But what are we really gleaning out of this? Well, I don’t know. I just think it’s interesting.