If Pitt comes out ahead/gets screwed in this round of realignment, feel free to thank/blame Texas (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Nice going, Texas. You just had to have your own network. Now we all have to deal with the consequences.
By the way, I know I said I wouldn't talk about expansion unless there were statements from the conference commissioners saying a school has joined a certain conference. Well, I lied.
The latest news is that Texas A&M is indeed leaving the Big 12/10 and heading to the SEC. If the rumors are true, Florida State, Clemson, and Missouri may also join the Aggies as the SEC would move to 16. At the very least, if Texas A&M does head to the SEC, one other school will likely join them - giving the SEC 14 members.
So what does this mean for Pitt and the Big East? Well, this all depends on who the last school(s) is/are and how many schools are heading to the SEC. Here's a few scenarios.
1) Texas A&M and Missouri head to the SEC: Should the Big 12/10 lose these two schools, I imagine it would signal the end of the conference. The Pac-12 would most likely swoop up Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to stay even with the SEC, effectively killing the Big 12/10. The key question here would be what would the B1G do? If the Big 10/12 stays put, the Big East's chances of survival increase. I think the ACC would stay at 12 should the B1G stay at 12. Then, the Big East takes Kansas, Kansas State, and one other school (Texas Tech/Iowa State) from the Big 12. Baylor and the school not taken by the Big East head to the MWC. Texas goes independent.
1b) Should the B1G expand to 14, then Pitt either is heading to the B1G or the ACC. Here's why. Say the B1G decides to go after a combination of Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse, or Maryland. If Pitt is a part of that, then we go the the Big Ten. If we're not, then the ACC will most likely expand to keep up with the other conferences. I'm guessing the B1G goes for Rutgers and Maryland/Pitt. If it's Maryland, then the ACC will take three schools - probably Syracuse, Pitt, and WVU. The Big East likely wouldn't survive the loss of these three schools.
2) A&M and Florida State/Clemson head to the SEC: If the ACC loses a school, they'll pick up a Big East school - most likely Syracuse, a school they were targeting in 2004. What does this mean for the Big East? Well, assuming that the Pac-12 takes OU and OSU (which is probably the case once the SEC expands), it again depends on the B1G. If the B1G stays put, the Big East picks up Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, and Iowa State to get to 12 (hopefully dumping the basketball schools in the process). Baylor and Texas Tech are in the MWC. Texas goes independent.
Should the B1G expand, then it's an interesting case. I imagine the B1G would take Missouri, as they were a supposed candidate last time. Then, one other schools joins, either Rutgers, Maryland, Pitt, or Syracuse joins. If it's Pitt, then we're in the B1G. If not, then it's tough to say what happens. If Maryland is taken, then Pitt is likely heading to the ACC with WVU and Syracuse. If it's Syracuse, then Pitt and WVU head to the ACC. If it's Rutgers though, I don't know. Syracuse would go to the ACC most likely and then the ACC has a choice. Do they want a rabid fan base in WVU with weak academics? Or will they take Pitt, with a more tepid fanbase, but great academics?
3) A&M, Missouri, Clemson, and Florida State head to the SEC: EXPLOSION OF SUPER-CONFERENCES!
If this happens, the Big East is done. The Pac-12 would pick up Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and...another school (Baylor? Boise? Texas?) The B1G definitely goes to 16 here, with Pitt, Syracuse, Rutgers, and Maryland all joining. WVU, UConn, USF are heading to the ACC. As for the two schools, I don't know. Would the ACC take Villanova? UCF? ECU?
Overall, the worst case scenario for Pitt would be that they're left behind in the Big East while all other conferences reach 14. I'm guessing that the Big East would lose WVU, Syracuse, and Rutgers, something I doubt they could feasibly survive ... at least with a BCS AQ bid in hand. The best case is what you want it to be. Pitt in the Big East with the conference mostly intact? Pitt in the B1G? Pitt in the ACC?
Notre Dame is the wild card here. Would the Irish join a conference in this round of expansion? I think it depends on how many schools are in each conference at the end of realignment. If it's only 14, I don't think so. But if it's 16, then it may happen, with the Irish obviously heading to the Big Ten. Pitt would most likely still join the Big Ten in this scenario, with Maryland and Syracuse/Rutgers joining as well.
UPDATE: Jim Delany tells ESPN's Joe Schad that the B1G is done expanding for now. The Big East may somehow survive realignment yet again!
Where would you like to see Pitt?
Big East (211 votes)
ACC (185 votes)
B1G (152 votes)
548 total votes