Expansion talks just get crazier by the day.
This weekend, Greg had word that Pitt could be a potential target of the Big 12. It started innocently enough with a Rivals site saying that Pitt could be a possibility and later, Pete Thamel of the New York Times chimed in saying Pitt was indeed discussed as a possibility on a call held by Big 12 officials on Saturday:
Another name mentioned for the first time on the call was Pittsburgh, which is about 700 miles and 3 states removed from the nearest Big 12 school.
Pitt, having their name thrown out there, had to respond in some way. And that's what E.J. Borghetti did ... though it was the typical veiled response (rightfully so, obviously) that neither says they have interest or will rule it out:
"Rampant speculation on conference expansion occurs, and changes, on a daily basis," senior associate athletic director E.J. Borghetti wrote in an email to the Tribune-Review. "It would not be productive or responsible to add to that speculation by commenting."
One problem with Pitt, Rutgers and West Virginia joining the Big 12 to make the conference name accurate: Aligning the divisions by either latitude or longitude would not enable Kansas to keep its two chief rivals in the same division. Using East and West divisions would put KU in the East with the three Big East schools, Iowa State and Missouri. K-State would be in the West. Using North and South divisions would put KU in the North with the three Big East schools, K-State and Iowa State. Missouri would be in the South by a hair.
Um, yeah. What he said. #OneStepAtATime
Seriously, though - the obvious thing to say is that being 'mentioned' on the call and being seriously considered are two entirely different things. The Big 12 is doing what the Big East did in early stages of trying to expand - throwing out names.
That said, really, this all goes back to something I said a few weeks back when the Texas A&M stuff was going on. Lots of folks assumed an A&M defection would kill the conference when I said that they would fight just as hard to keep it alive. For now, anyway, they still have Texas and Oklahoma - two pretty good football cornerstones last I checked. The loss of A&M isn't ideal, but there would clearly be ways to survive without them.
Sorry, not buying the whole A&M leaving means death to the Big 12 stuff.
The name of the game for the Big 12 is aggression. The conference is going to be extremely aggressive with this and try to keep the conference together. How aggressive? In addition to the usual suspects being mentioned for the Big 12, there are even other somewhat surprising names out there:
Less disruptive might be going after TCU before it even gets to the Big East.
Ah, TCU. The Horned Frogs actually would make a far better fit in the Big 12 than the Big East, but, well, that's another discussion for another time.
So to recap, no one's really got any good idea of how this whole thing will turn out. But getting back to this whole Pitt/Big 12 thing. Could it actually work? Should Pitt consider a Big 12 leap if an invite is extended?
In my opinion, not really.
In a nutshell, this makes no sense on any real level for Pitt. For the Big 12 trying to add quality members? Sure, considering Pitt is a logical step. Bringing the Panthers aboard would mean adding a solid football program, a borderline elite basketball program, and more importantly, a northeastern TV market.
But for Pitt? I don't get it.
In the end, there could likely be a little more money, but Pitt would have major a geographic nightmare complete with travel issues and no immediate rivals. Not to mention that the Big 12 is, at the moment, as equally unstable as the Big East.
And on the field, if the Panthers think the Big East is tough sledding, squaring off against the likes of Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma State, and any other new members (i.e. BYU) would be significantly more difficult.
The bottom line is that leaving for the Big 12 would really need to be a last resort. And by last resort, I mean the Big East would be imploding and Pitt would be forced into such a move. But a proactive move to the Big 12 doesn't make much sense to me. Sure the Big East isn't all that stable, but the Big 12 still has work to do in that department, too. The only way it may make any sense is if the Big 12 is somehow able to secure the talents of Notre Dame ... something I don't see happening. If the Irish joined any conference, they're probably a much better fit for the Big East (which certainly ain't happening right now) or the Big Ten.
Lots of things would need to happen for Pitt to even begin considering this.