Conference Realignment: Would Penn State Have Ever Left the Big Ten?

Could Penn State Ever Leave the Big Ten?

According to Barry Alvarez, Appeasing Penn State Drove This Round of Realignment

Friday, on the three-year anniversary of leaking the news that the Big Ten was looking to add a 12th team, Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez told the school’s athletic board the conference was driven to add a 13th and 14th team — in part — to keep Penn State in the fold.

“Jim (Delaney) felt that someday, if we didn’t have anyone else in that corridor, someday it wouldn’t make sense maybe for Penn State to be in our league,” Alvarez told the board, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “That they would go into a league somewhere on the East Coast. By doing that, it keeps us in the Northeast corridor.”

So is there any truth to this? Was there a threat by the PSU administration to leave? Since the Big Ten’s grant of rights only covers the length of the current television contract, the timing would make sense. And Penn State’s recent issues with the conference have been well documented, too. While we certainly never believed PSU — or any team, for that matter — would truly leave the Big Ten, here’s the sales pitch we advocated for the conference to push to the school back in November:

“We know the Big Ten has it out for you. That fumble call against Nebraska was part of a much larger conspiracy by the league and the NCAA to truly stick it to you in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. They’re going to continue to do so. Oh, and remember when Penn State was able to claim a good chunk of the New York market due to its proximity and affiliation to the B1G? Well that’s gone too, now that Rutgers has joined the conference. Speaking of the Scarlet Knights, we have a proposition for you: trade matchups with them and the Terps at noon for games against FSU, Notre Dame and Miami. We’ll even let you restart your old, bitter rivalries against Syracuse and Pitt. And we’ll let you win games and compete for a national championship. Seriously.”

All of that rang true back then, and it’s a compelling argument now. Before the Big Ten added Rutgers and Maryland, what was really stopping the Nittany Lions from leaving a geographically dissimilar league that had it out for them, and exchanging it for an increasingly strong eastern league that would certainly receive a big contract boost with their membership?

So with that possibility virtually off the table, does the ACC have to make a similar move, beyond just bringing in Louisville? In a conference realignment game that continues to laugh at geography, it would be entertaining to see it actually drive an expansion move. In the ACC, the Florida schools (especially Florida State) feel regionally isolated and de-emphasized in comparison to Carolina basketball. The northeast corridor (Boston College, Pittsburgh, Syracuse) will be increasingly isolated once Maryland leaves (closest schools would now be in Virginia). Louisville, while close to Notre Dame, is still a regional outlier as the conference stands now. While I was once firmly against adding Cincinnati, if it ever came to needing another addition to keep Louisville from departing for the Big 12, the Bearcats would be the next and most logical choice.

For now, let’s just hope that the statement of solidarity holds and this is all conjecture. Don’t know about everyone else, but I’d love to see the realignment circus stop for a bit.

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7 thoughts on “Conference Realignment: Would Penn State Have Ever Left the Big Ten?

  1. I absolutely think there was a real threat of Penn State jumping to the ACC at the first opportunity, but these recent B1G moves probably ended that threat.

    As for further ACC expansion (if needed), I agree with you – Cincinnati (preferably in combo w/ full Notre Dame). Not even sure UConn is 2nd – maybe a 3rd FL school, either USF or even UCF, both of which have bigger home attendance numbers compared to UConn. If the GoR ever gets broken up over in Big XII land, WVU might get invited, even!

    • Only way I see GoR disappearing is if the Texas schools and Okla. schools leave for the Pac-12. Then WVU departs, as does TCU and maybe KU too. The three schools left would struggle to bring in members and would ultimately fold the conference. Pipe dream, however.

      • if any conference is in danger of getting broken up, I still believe that it will be the Big 12….there’s still animosity there toward Texas and the Longhorn Network and it truly wouldn’t surprise me to see Oklahoma and OK State depart for the Pac 12……if college football really does go to the so-called “superconferences”, does anybody really think that the Pac 12 is gonna add Nevada, Boise State, BYU, Hawaii, San Jose State, San Diego St., etc. just to fill out their roster?…..BYU would be a good choice and maybe Boise St., but if the SEC takes, let’s say Va. Tech and NC St. and the Big 10 grabs, let’s say, Syracuse and Boston College, which will put their conferences at 16 apiece, the Pac 12 will get Okla., Ok. State, Texas and BYU (most likely) to get themselves to 16…the Big 12 couldn’t exist without the 2 Oklahoma schools and if Texas also left, goodbye Big 12……I firmly believe that the ACC is safe and I agree that Cincinnati would be a great addition to fill out the ranks and maybe finally convince ND to make the official jump as a football member…..

        • I’m of the opinion that superconferences can’t and won’t happen, mostly due to the Big 12’s grant of rights provision. While the Big 12 could dissolve — nullifying the GoR — if Texas Tech, UT, OU and OSU go to the Pac-12, they’d still need at least one more domino to fall (KU/TCU/WVU). Even then, the remaining members would have to vote to dissolve the league (unlikely if they’re able to collect 13 years of media rights from the departed schools). While I agree, under most circumstances the Big 12 would be the least stable league, the GoR changes things drastically.

  2. My thoughts are: Do anyone think the current ACC with Big East Additions and Penn. St. will bring a full member in Notre Dame? Maybe? Just Maybe? ND asked for this to happen? Call me crazy but this whole thing would be over if the Big Xii didn’t have the GRANT Of RIGHTS! that they added after their first poaching. The SEC would take 2 schools, the PAC would take 4, and the B1G would fill their spots with the best Northern Big Xii schools left. KANSAS? KAN ST.? IOWA ST still regional schools. CINCY and UCONN in play too. Think about it for a minute!

    • another thing that keeps getting left out are the state legislatures……the Va. state legislature fought and lobbied hard to get Va. Tech into the ACC and they’re not gonna roll over for any conference……and then you have the NC state legislature…..the state legislature and the “bigwigs” who run the state supported colleges (UNC and NC State) are not gonna let either of those teams go anywhere and UNC would not leave for anywhere else without Duke…..and I still say, regardless of GoR, Oklahoma and Ok. St. are ready to jump to the Pac-12….people seem to forget that there’s still real hostility toward Texas over the Longhorn Network…..if the SEC were to get anybody, the only real options at this point would have to Miami, FSU, Clemson and Ga. Tech…..but as we all know, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia will never allow that to happen…..and then, the final thing getting in the way of all of this, the lawsuits that are sure to happen……..most likely, any real movement on realignment in the near future probably stopped with Louisville’s addition to the ACC…….

    • Nobody bothers thinking about how much the Big 12 would be in play because it’s not in play. No point thinking about “what if they didn’t have a grant of rights” when they do have one.

      The state legislatures point Bradley brings up is another solid point. Too many fans are forgetting who makes these decisions (boards of governors, legislatures), and how much those individuals are opposed to change. The ACC’s financial position is actually improving; and I think the narrative around the league is about to change drastically in the coming months.

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