Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Which conference shall we go?
That is the rhyme many programs were singing while changing the landscape of college sports this past year. At least in my mind. Never in the history of sports has a conference alignment been altered so dramatically in just one year. And while the NCAA dives into their fortune like a greedy Scrooge McDuck, little do they know what these new 'super conferences' have put into motion...But this isn't one of those articles.
Despite some of these conference changes making no geographical sense (Because when I think the Big East, I think Boise, Idaho. Puhleeze!), let's take a look into our BCS conference's crystal ball and see what is in store for the landscape of college basketball and football next seasons. Who made the right decision? Who should have stayed put? And who jumped just because everyone else did.
Why not start off with the most dominant conference in college athletics? The SEC.
New additions: Missouri, Texas A&M
Basketball: Missouri is an excellent addition for an SEC that is lacking in multiple talented basketball programs. Right off the bat, the Tigers become a top 3 program along with Kentucky and Florida. Reigning coach of the year, Frank Haith, will be a welcomed addition to a conference that already has John Calipari, Billy Donovan, Mike Anderson, Frank Martin, and Anthony Grant. Did Missouri make the right call? Playing against Kentucky and Florida, who combine for 3 national titles in the past seven seasons will help prepare the Tigers to get to their first Final Four in school history; a feat that is very feasible in the near future. However, all fans are sad to see the rivalry with Kansas end.
Texas A&M, fresh off of a 14-18 season, come off more like your girlfriend's ugly roommate more-so than an attractive addition.
Neither program will be dethroning Kentucky as the conference's top dog any time soon but it will be cute to see them try.
Football: Both Missouri and the Aggies are in for a rude awakening when they begin competing with the SEC on a weekly basis. The SEC has produced National Champions in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. The SEC is known for their speed...ridiculous speed. That is something Big 12 teams are definitely not used to seeing. The Big 12 play as much defense as Steve Nash, which allows for pass happy QBs to pad their stats. That will not happen against the Alabama's and LSU's.
Texas A&M has always had to worry about being a top 3 school in their own state. Now the most they can hope for is a Music City Bowl. Missouri is in the same boat. Both Universities will love the financial aspects of the conference jump but the success on the field will be limited.
New additions: West Virginia, TCU
Basketball: West Virginia is a great addition to the Big 12. Head coach, Bob Huggins had success in the deepest conference in college basketball; winning the 2010 Big East Tournament and leading his Mountaineers to the 2010 Final Four; their first trip in 51 years. It will be very entertaining to see how West Virginia fairs against the conference's bully, the 2012 National Runner-up, Kansas Jayhawks and the always competitive Rick Barnes' Texas Longhorns. Despite only one Big 12 program with a national championship on it's resume in the past 66 years, the Big 12 is nothing to sneeze at, fans.
It might not be as deep and competitive as the Big East has been but it's still filled with teams that can beat you on any given night. However, this will definitely add a few more wins each season for Huggins and company. I wouldn't expect the Mountaineers to take the conference by storm and go to Final Fours but there will be another team fighting for position from the middle to the top of the standings.
TCU, on the other hand, will finish dead last. New head coach, Trent Johnson, has had some success at Nevada and Stanford but even he cannot perform this miracle. The Frogs finished 18-15 last year with an early loss in the CBI Tournament. What's that? You don't know what the CBI is? Neither does 90 percent of college basketball fans.
Football: Its hard not to get excited about the thought of TCU and WVU facing Oklahoma and Texas on the gridiron. Both additions have had BCS success in recent history with TCU earning a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin, to top off an undefeated season just a couple of seasons ago. TCU will finally get the chance to play in a 'legitimate' conference and prove their merit against two of the biggest powerhouses in college football. West Virginia on the other hand, will find it difficult to attain the BCS bid that came so easily in the Big East. You cannot lose 3 to 4 games and still win the conference in the Big 12.
WVU enters the season ranked #11 in the coaches poll. So we will see if they're as good as their ranking.
All football fans should circle November 24 and December 1 on their calenders. That is when the Horned Frogs of TCU battle Texas and Oklahoma. You can bank on TCU winning at least one of those games.
Verdict? Great move!
New additions: Temple (Football only),
Basketball: The real story here is not who the Big East is gaining but whom they are losing. Original member, Syracuse will bolt for the ACC in 2013 to join Duke and North Carolina in ESPN's most loved conference. Pittsburgh is jumping ship as well. The Big East is the Titanic of the BCS conferences. Just a sinking ship with major members already bolting while other fellow programs plan ahead for a future destination.
Football: The Big East was already the worst conference in major college football. Now after losing their best program, they are scraping the bottom of the barrel like one of the Kardashians; just trying to stay relevant for another fifteen minutes. Temple is now returning to the Big East for a second go around with the conference. Just a mere eight years after being kicked out for terrible performance. Yes, that's right. They weren't good enough eight years ago but now they're starting to look good to the conference now.
To be fair, Temple has rejuvenated their program in the past few years. The Owls just completed their third straight winning season and looking at how awful the rest of the conference is, something tells me they won't be getting kicked out any time soon.
Boise State, the country's favorite underdog, will be joining the Big East in 2013. The conference will not be losing the automatic BCS bid any time soon, so you can go ahead and pencil in the Broncos for some more BCS games in the near future.
The Broncos aren't the only future member of the conference. The Big East raided Conference USA's kitchen and snatched up Southern Methodist, Memphis, Central Florida, and Houston to join them in 2013.. Who can blame them? The Big East will be the easiest BCS conference in the country and if a 8-4 UConn team can win your conference like they did in 2010, then anyone has a legitimate shot.
Oh, and how can we forget the Big East newest and furthest program,San Diego State? That's right. SAN DIEGO STATE as in San Diego, CALIFORNIA! San Diego State is over 3,000 miles away from fellow Big East member, UConn. How is that going to work on a consistent basis? The Big East having members from California, Texas, Florida, New York, Idaho, Tennessee, etc. makes as much sense as Snooki running for Congress. They might as well just go global with the whole thing and invite a team from Liverpool.
Is it a good move? For the new programs? Yes! SMU's June Jones now has a realistic shot to have the Mustangs in a BCS bowl. How crazy is that?
The Big East's reign as the best basketball conference in the nation is slowly slipping from their grasp. Losing Syracuse and Pitt are major blows to the conference's prestige and competitiveness. With rumors that Notre Dame and Louisville are headed out the door as well, it makes the conference that much worse. The conference is a total mess with no resolution in sight, really.
These are just the major conference changes. This isn't including the jumps of schools like Hawaii and Fresno State from the WAC to the Mountain West in football; jumps that don't really matter in the grand scheme of things. However, this is just the beginning. There are still the rumors of Florida State, Clemson, and Virginia Tech being interested in joining the SEC, which will make it nearly impossible to go undefeated in the toughest football conference in the country, but adds very little to the basketball landscape.
The majority of these conference jumps didn't do a lot to increase national championship hopes for programs outside of Boise State and TCU football. What it has done is create new rivalries, more excitement for the fans, more money for the schools, and a new beast that the NCAA will struggle to contain. Maybe it's not that bad after all.