Ten years ago I became obsessed with conference realignment. As a Mountaineer at heart how couldn’t I? It was essentially what jump started Blue Gold Sports. But 10 years is a long time and Eerlaw6 from the old Scout board has long been retired. Well that was until the past two weeks.
Conference realignment has a way of pulling you back into the fold. And after writing for Fox Sports, Athlon Sports, and USA Today I have become friends with many people in the know. I hate the word “sources”, so for the purpose of this article I will refer to them as friends. Because at that end of the day they are friends, not just people I turn to when I want information.
So with the formalities out of the way let’s talk.
It was a little surprising that Texas and Oklahoma were able to “collude” with the SEC for over six months without anyone knowing, including Texas A&M. I do truly believe the only reason this became so prevalent so quickly is because A&M finally got tipped off this was happening behind their backs and blew the lid off the whole thing.
If you believe UT and OU are waiting until 2025 when the Big 12 Grant of Rights ends you are sadly mistaken. The joint notification that UT and OU did not plan on renewing their contract with the Big 12 after 2025 was just a formality. As of Tuesday morning both schools have officially asked for acceptance into the SEC. Long story short, this is happening sooner rather later.
So, the important question, where does this leave WVU? Let’s be honest here, if you are looking for the warm and fuzzy you are reading the wrong article. And here is why….
The ACC is not poised to make any knee jerk decisions, this essentially does not affect the ACC conference in the slightest. At least not yet. The ACC could not add any school to even sniff the per school pay day that ESPN is prepared to pay the new SEC.
Now here is where the ACC may rethink their sit back and wait approach. ESPN has reportedly informed the SEC that they would pay the SEC a pro rata share for each school the conference adds. In laymen’s terms, for every A list school the SEC adds ESPN will increase the total payout to ensure there is no revenue lost.
Here is the part that is going to hurt Mountaineer fans feelings, WVU is presumably not on that list. That list consists of Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, UCLA, and probably Clemson and/or Florida State. And here is where the ACC may change their tune.
If FSU and/or Clemson decide the SEC is a better fit the ACC is going to need to make changes, and quickly. I had tweeted on Tuesday that WVU needed Notre Dame and here is why. Notre Dame is on the top of everyone’s list. They are the most lucrative independent out there. WVU and Notre Dame to the ACC as a package deal would be a no-brainer for the conference.
I don’t care about the academic argument, the ACC lost that argument when they added Louisville and shut the door on that argument with the UNC cheating scandal. So what is the hold-up? You just don’t add a school without making sure your media partner is willing to pay for it.
Let’s be honest, Fox and ESPN paid for Texas and Oklahoma, everyone else in the conference was just a bonus. With them gone that new GOR in 2025 is going to hurt the wallet of all remaining Big 12 schools.
Just because we are just hearing of UT and OU’s decision to leave the Big 12 doesn’t mean it happened quickly and neither will any other move.
Is WVU in a better position than they were ten years ago? Absolutely. But they are still not in the drivers seat by any means. With so many schools, including WVU, taking out loans to cover costs because of covid there isn’t $79 million lying around to hand over to the Big 12 to get out of the GOR early. And guess who wouldn’t help pay that even if they wanted the Mountaineers? The ACC.
Do I believe WVU is eventually regulated down to the AAC, not a chance. I truly believe it is a new-look Big 12 with additions like Houston, Cincinnati, and UCF or the ACC with the additional of at least one more. The Big 10 is looking at Kansas, WVU is not an option there. The PAC 12 will take a look at Baylor, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State, WVU is obviously not an option there. TCU may be in trouble if the Big 12 implodes.
Fact of the matter is, nothing is going to happen quickly and if this gives you heartburn you may want to stock up on some anti-acids because the uncertainty is not going away for a while.
You can follow Jeremy on Twitter @JSi07