Here at Hustle Belt, we may not always know why the VCR keeps flashing "12:00" or how to properly initiate the usage of a glass bottle of ketchup, but we darn sure have some ideas on how college sports, football in particular, can work to eradicate this mess they've allowed to overflow in recent weeks.
Welcome to a 3rd installment of our discussions. If you missed the first or second parts, click here for part 2, and from there you can also go to part 1. This time, we look at conference realignment, and how it may or may not effect the MAC.
Brown and Gold - I hear say that West Virginia is headed to the SEC, and Texas, Oklahoma, OK State, and Texas Tech are all close to bolting for the PAC-12(16). Do we lose teams? Gain some?
Matt Sussman - I submit that it won't affect the MAC, except that they may play fewer AQ conference teams and more C-USA/Sun Belt. In terms of displaced teams joining the conference I'd be shocked if Iowa State or Rutgers would saddle up.
Although the last time the ACC added Big East teams they took from C-USA who then took from the MAC.
thechuck_2112 - There's a vocal (not sure how sizable) chunk of Miami fans who are convinced that it's a complete failure if Miami doesn't make a move to join a superconference, and that Miami apparently is a very attractive property to a superconference. I think those people are delusional. More on-topic, though, although I expect the MAC may pick up a team or two in this shuffle, I really do hope it doesn't fundamentally alter the character of the conference. Part of what's fun growing up in Ohio (and probably Michigan, too) is that you know kids from your high school who went to each of the other MAC schools in the state, which adds some fun to the games, at least in my opinion. That's not going to be the same if Rutgers or someone comes in; Temple and UMass are already a stretch (though I suppose the addition of Rutgers would help Temple and UMass students in a way similar to what I described above).
As for possible additions, I guess Iowa State and Kansas State would be the most likely, though who knows how likely that actually is. Kansas State shares its board of regents with KU, which hurts KU's chances of landing in a superconference -- after all, who wants KSU as a package deal? But if they're willing to split them up conference-wise, I could see that move. Iowa State brings nothing to the table that a superconference would want. (At least Rutgers "brings" NYC, even though no one gives a damn about them there.) But I think KSU and ISU are more likely to try for the MWC or the WAC than the MAC.
Another thought on this: A persistent rumor coming out of the demise of the Big East is that the Catholic basketball schools will band together to form their own basketball conference, and will probably invite St. Joe's, Dayton, Xavier, and St. Louis to come along. That would totally gut the A-10 as a basketball league, and may convince Temple and UMass to join for all sports.
bmiraski - Rutgers to the MAC is a good thought, but it is too much of a gold mine for the other conferences. With Rutgers comes the NYC television market and that is too much of a good thing for the big boys to let fall to the MAC. If I had to bet on anything, it would be Temple leaving, although the UMass addition does make that less likely.
I just don't see enough cache from any of the teams in the MAC to make them absolute must haves in the shuffling. When Marshall left, it somewhat made sense. If Temple leaves, it somewhat makes sense. Even if UMass backs out and goes right to the Big East, it somewhat makes sense. But would a conference go after a Toledo? Probably not.
The big factor is always going to be television. And in the MAC, there is just not that television market to be coveted outside of Temple and soon UMass. If a league could add Philly (I think 4th largest market, possibly 5th or 6th) or Boston (further down, but a lot of money), it is a big move.
I don't see the MAC adding teams, for both financial reasons (travel being a big one) and just desire. It has never struck me as a league that has those aspirations, outside of maybe basketball where the league definitely gets the short end of the stick in March. But I'm babbling...
Matt Sussman -I don't know if adding schools is necessary to break into markets. The MAC already broadcasts the Game of the Week in most the major Midwestern outlets. People will watch college football if it's on. But if 16 teams becomes the new 12 then I'm sure the MAC will follow suit and add two more, whether they're Big XII/East leftovers or FCS promotions.
bmiraski - It may not be solely to break into markets, but it depends on the value of those television contracts. All of a sudden, the Big Ten Network becomes a lot more valuable if it has a NYC-area team to show, even if Rutgers isn't the greatest team.
The leagues with more interesting television deals definitely could see bigger markets as a boon for the value of the contracts with ESPN, etc. I think 16 teams comes with its own challenges, as the Big East showed. They had bigger issues with football vs. basketball schools, but 16 was never an easy number to coordinate and schedule and make happy.
I bet if you went back and asked DePaul if they are happy with the move they made 8 years ago, the answer would be a definite no. Despite some success under Brian Kelly, I am not sure that Cincinnati sees themselves in a better position now than when they left C-USA. Even Rick Pitino said he understands why teams are leaving. If more conferences looked at the issues with 16 teams, taking the money out of the equation, they might think twice about making the switch.
Matt Sussman - It would cost a conference $2.5 million to take Temple or UMass away, $3 million for both. (Technically the costs go to the schools but I'm sure the leagues would compensate them.)
bmiraski - Compared to trying to poach from the Big XII, or the Big East, that is a steal. If a conference could convince them to come out for all sports (the Big East being the most likely suitor), they definitely get their money's worth.
geeves - I agree that all of this conference kerfluffle is unlikely to have any significant effect on the MAC, if at all. Perhaps thats very double edged sword we have - the same insular, familial attitude that makes the MAC so appealingly non-AQ also makes it unlikely to fracture...or expand in a way that is truly competitive either. Perhaps the recent interactive media progress is some small measure of combatting that?
cmadler - If 16 becomes the new 12, I'd look for the MAC to add three more. :-)
Phil_Friend - My sources indicate that Grand Valley State, St. Francis (Ind.) and Wisconsin-Whitewater are being extended invitations to the Mid-American Conference as EARLY AS NEXT WEEK! Spread the word.
And that's about as far as we got. So lets get your thoughts, what do you think will happen with the MAC and all this realignment?