Change Ad Consent Conference Realignment History: It's All About Mass Media | Syracusefan.com

Conference Realignment History: It's All About Mass Media

WoadBlue

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The first conference in the sense we know was the Western Conference, later the Big Ten. It was founded by men who wished to create for the midwest what they saw for elite colleges in the northeast, but much more organized. They wanted organization because they were greatly influenced by the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age and knew that with organization of college sports in the midwest would come money, and monopoly over that process would pay huge dividends.

The Western conference from its inception was championed by the newspapers of the midwest as the ideal for college sports and as the best in quality. The dawn of radio meant that the Big Ten arranged for midwestern radio to laud it as did midwestern newspapers. The Big Ten was always the richest conference with the most media exposure and promotion.

That should be kept in mind whenever you read anyone whining about how less money than the Big Ten or SEC means we are doomed. The Big Ten always had a major money advantage. It is only very recently that the SEC got close to BT money. And the BT over almost its entire history has been grossly overrated by the media whores in bed with the BT.

The most money guarantees only that you can buy the most and loudest mouthpieces.

World War 2 convinced the BT that 'owning' the Rose Bowl was the next step. The reason was that Hollywood was the Big Boss of American entertainment media through newsreels. The Pac had always had trouble, from a lot of corruption and much semi-competence, as well as contempt by the CA schools (minus UCLA, which at first was a near nobody) for everybody else. The BT knew that it could deliver stability tp the Pac through the Rose Bowl, which then would mean the BT was actually the important partner in The Granddaddy of Them All. The Rose Bowl was closed, and the media tied to the BT began trumpeting that the age of the Rose Bowl meant that the Rose Bowl champ was basically the National Champ, no matter what sportswriters or coaches thought.

The BT again had given itself a type of monopoly and used mass media to sell the tale to the public.

The concept of 'Major' college football conferences was not begun to to be set until the 1950s. And it had to do very much with media. If your league had big radio deals, you could claim to be Major. The ACC was formed out of the Southern Conference for two main reasons: the SoCon leadership opposed bowls and the SoCon leadership had no interest in the league working to secure radio contracts for the entire league. The ACC was formed to be Major conference, allowing the SoCon to be Minor conference. Maryland won the National Championship in football in the ACC's first season.

As the 1960s dawned, there were 5 Major conferences: Big Ten, Pac, SEC, SWC, ACC. As expected, it was the BT that only realized how big TV was going to be for college sports, but had begun acting to secure power over CFB TV. Few people know the very close ties between the NCAA and the Big Ten. The NCAA even rented office space from the BT for years, NCAA top executives often lunching with BT top brass. If you want to know how such dirty programs, decade after decade, as Ohio St football and basketball have gotten away with half-slaps on the wrist, it is the very old history of BT and NCAA bedding down.

And that is how we got the one CFB TV deal for everybody. The BT, with help from the Pac and its Hollywood friends, arranged the system. There would be National games, chosen by 'experts,' and Regional games, likewise chosen by 'experts. By the start of the 1970s, it was clear even to the nicest of nice guys (minus the most native ACC types, who remained very naive) that the CFB TV deal benefitted the BT the most, by a good deal, and benefitted the Pac 2nd most. IT also screwed the ACC the most, by a good deal.

Almost any BT vs. Pac game in which one was ranked was a National broadcast. Almost any BT game between 2 ranked teams was a National broadcast. The BT's Region included not just the midwest but the northeast. The BT Region also included the Louisville TV market - unless UK were playing a ranked SEC foe, UK football did not get shown in Louisville, only 75 miles from Lexington, because the BT was given that market. I saw BT games on Nashville TV when I was a kid, with ranked SEC teams playing one another and televised in the Deep South. Unless Maryland was ranked and playing a ranked team, the BT would be on the Baltimore and DC stations rather than, say, SoCar vs. NCSU.

The BT loved that near-monopoly and needed it. So the BT was very unhappy when some people began grumbling about the CFB TV deal in the mid-70s. As that began, some people in the Pac began worrying about the rise of the WAC. Phoenix and AZ had grown. Phoenix was a very large and important TV market. And some AZ connected businessmen intended to have a Major New Year's Bowl in Phoenix: the Fiesta. The talk was that the Fiesta would have a slot for the WAC champ, because Arizona and AZ ST were the most important schools in the WAC.

After huddling with the BT, the Pac added Arizona and AZ St, and immediately the media tied to BT or Pac interests trumpeted the move as making the Rose Bowl even stronger. The BT was still controlling almost everything as it desired for its benefit and to the detriment of everybody else but the Pac.

INTERMISSION

edit - An English teacher in HS told us repeatedly that if you do not proofread, very carefully, at least twice, you will make big mistakes. Some of them so big they become funny.

I left out the Big 8 as Major conference even after ragging on old time Big 8 fanboy Dennis Dodd on this board just yesterday.
 
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WoadBlue

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Part 2

Probably the most important person in the history of conference realignment is Roy Kramer. This is so because Kramer was a Central Michigan/MAC guy who knew to never trust the BT, and not long after he became Vandy AD in 1978 he began explaining that to SEC people.

The basic SEC attitude has been about the games, not business. The SEC guy wants to lace 'em up and play. He loves the sport as sport, and he assumes everybody else does too. What Kramer taught, slowly to unwilling learners, is that the standard BT attitude was nearly opposite that, that the BT was all about business, all about money and media.

The Kramer story that first made the impact on Vandy people was about the MAC trying to organize a MAC radio network that would have stations across the midwest, including towns that were not even in the same county as a MAC school. As that was the TV age, MAC people probably assumed that the BT could not care because the BT had huge money and coverage on TV. But, Kramer stressed, the BT did care, and the BT made it clear to MAC schools that they saw such a radio network as harming BT interests and if the MAC persisted, the BT likely would have to stop all games vs. MAC teams.

If you've wondered how a non-charismatic Vanderbilt AD became SEC commissioner, now you know. Over time, Kramer convinced SEC people that the BT was not like the SEC, that the BT was behind the scenes working a corrupt system to its advantage, that the BT wanted monopoly and could not be trusted.

I've heard 2 slightly different versions of a story about Kramer finally overcoming the naive SEC opposition. What matches in the two versions is that Kramer was making his case that the SEC had to break away from any TV deal in which the BT was involved, even if that meant breaking up the NCAA (which he knew would not happen, because everybody but the BT and Pac wanted major changes to CFB deal for TV). The chief antagonist had grown up in the St Louis area. Kramer asked him to think back to his youth and CFB on TV. How many games were BT games, Kramer asked. The man paused, and then the light hit his eyes. He recalled complaining about St Louis TV showing some crappy BT game when he wanted to watch Mizzou at K-St or Ok ST at Nebraska. And that happened many times each season.

When the BT realized that the Georgia-Oklahoma law suit would end the BT's near-monopolistic control, it began trying to figure out a way to retain as much of its ill gotten TV gains as possible. And that meant that BT leaders who until then had held great contempt for Penn State suddenly developed an interest. They knew that the Big East had been created to highlight northeast CBB, which had been left out of TV for the most part, and that it had worked brilliantly. They knew that the BE did not want PSU because it had no BB history worth having and the campus was not near any metro area. And that made Joe Paterno furious.

At first, JoePa tried to talk up an Eastern League for football, but nobody was interested, especially as he usually presented it as PSU and its little helpers.

By the time JoePa won that 2nd National Championship (the one made possible by the pederast DC), he knew that PSU required a conference for all sports, and he knew that he could not form one of just northeastern schools. PSU would have to look west or look south and join what existed. Gene Corrigan confirmed that JoePa never talked even unofficially to anybody with the ACC or with ACC schools' athletics department or President's office. JoePa was BT or bust. And BT ADs knew that having PSU would mean that the BT would control all of TV of CFB across the northeast.

So the BT ADs invited PSU, and PSU accepted immediately. But the BT Presidents did not want PSU, which required a retraction of the offer, publicly. JoePa and PSU were made to seem like begging fools. The BT Presidents eventually gave in, and PSU joined the BT, to save part of the BT's ill-gotten TV market.

The BT move to expand for TV market meant that the SEC would follow suit. By that point, the SEC brass had become so alarmed by what it had learned from Kramer that it demanded that the SEC act as aggressively as the BT. Once the SEC learned that a nearly unknown NCAA rule - for D3 specifically - allowed a conference championship game if the league has at least 12 teams - the SEC decided to expand back to 12 (GT left the SEC in 1964 and Tulane left in 1966) and do so at the expense of a neighboring league rather than add 2 Southern independents.

The SEC began probing both the ACC and the SWC. They wanted Texas and Texas A&M most, but they thought they could break up the ACC easier. They found that no meaningful boosters from UNC or UVA had any interest in even talking. They then found that while Texas boosters were not interested, some A&M boosters were. They then learned that many Arkansas boosters would love to jump ship away from Texas. That gave them leverage. They told Texas and A&M that they wanted both. They also said that if Texas chose to try to save the SWC, they would take Arkansas, and the SWC would die anyway, because the SWC required all 3 of those schools. Texas said no, and A&M felt pressured to say no, and Arkansas jumped whole hog on the SEC.

The SEC moves persuaded the ACC that it must expand, for football. Corrigan said that the ACC came close to going to 10, offering Syracuse with FSU, But as the vote for a 9 member league was unanimous, they picked FSU.

The SEC had by then told FSU that it would be the 12th member, once all the paperwork with Arkansas was completed. The ACC swept in over a weekend and won over ever FSU HC, including Bowden, and the ACC obviously was preferred by the administration and faculty. FSU became the ACC's 9th.

The SEC then looked very briefly at Miami before deciding between SoCar and WVU. It took SoCar primarily to get back at the ACC for taking FSU.

All those changes, especially PSU to the BT, frightened all 3 of the BE's D1 football schools: Cuse, BC, Pitt. They informed the BE that if it did not form a football division, they might have to look elsewhere to protect their football. The BE acted to keep them. Miami had campaigned to be the ACC's 10th, but the ACC wanted no part of that then out of control program. The BE added Miami for both sports. Then the BE added WVU, VT, Rutgers, and Temple for football only.

And so the landscape seemed to settle.

INTERMISSION 2
 

WoadBlue

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But it was far from calm behind the curtains. Texas knew the SWC was Dead Man Walking. The Pac reached out and all but offered UT and A&M to make a Pac 12. That would have added the very valuable state of TX to the Rose Bowl alliance. Aggie even then was totally uninterested is going Left Coast.

Texas flirted with a Big 8-SWC merger, but 16 teams seemed far too unwieldy. Allegedly, the BT told Texas it would take both UT and A&M. Finally, both SWC and Big 8 dissolved their charters and disbanded, and then the 8 of the Big 8 and Texas, A&M, Baylor and TexasTech became the new league the Big XII. That the Big XII was NOT the Big 8 expanded to 12 is very important to the demise of the Big XII.

Miami's goal was to be in the ACC, and that did not change with BE football. When Erickson's zoo/circus/playpen for troubled boys forced his cancellation, Miami President Tad Foote hired Butch Davis with one order: clean up the program so it does not keep the university out of the ACC. My first post online was in 1998, and I said I had learned from a Bama booster who was good friends with a Florida booster in Miami that Miami was working hard to get an ACC invite. The BE knew what Miami was doing back then. When we added Miami and VT, the ACC, upset that Tranghese lied to the public, released proof that in 1998 the BE offered to let the ACC 'have' Miami, Cuse, BC, and Pitt for football season, but they would remain BE basketball.

By 2000, Miami was advocating that the ACC go to 12, with Miami, Cuse, and BC. FSU immediately backed the Miami Plan. It was a given that any BE team offered by the ACC would leave because Miami could not be replaced. Behind the scenes, VT was playing excellent state politics, arranging things so that UVA would vote NO on expansion unless VT were included. VT began the ACC's 10th, and Miami was the 11th.

But neither BC nor Cuse was added then. The reason is that the ACC and Notre Dame were talking. ND and the ACC had been allies on virtually all issues back to opposition to Jock Dorms. And ND even then knew that it required Major conference memberships for all sports but football and might need it later for football. Supposedly, ND back them agreed to be a full member of the ACC if the league played only 5 football games per year. The ACC could not go that low, obviously. So then BC got the nod, probably because so many Cuse basketball boosters were less than thrilled about leaving the BE.

The Big XII had never been fully stable, because Nebraska had never been fully happy. It lost its annual game with OU, and Texas became THE Big XII power broker immediately. That meant that the SEC kept looking at A&M to get into TX. It also meant that Texas would keep looking at possibilities. The Big XI began to fall apart when the Big Ten again failed to get ND to join. The BT decided to take Nebraska so it could have a Championship Game. That occurred as Texas was flirting with the Pac, to take A&M, OU, and Ok ST to make the Pac 16. Colorado did leave for the Pac 12. That gave the Pac Rocky Mountains, which it hoped would greatly increase its revenue.

The remaining 10 in the Big XII were not stable. A&M lost all trust in Texas with the start of the LHN. Missouri had hoped to get into the BT. KU would have done anything to get into the BT. The SEC knew it must act to get into TX or lose that possibility. The Aggies were taken to be the SEC's 13th. Later, the SEC added Missouri for 14 members.

The Big XII added TCU to replace A&M. It needed a 10th, and the Big XII looked at Pitt first. The plan was to take Pitt and use the old ND rival to offer ND a scheduling arrangement. The second that Pitt knew it was in the Big XII if it wanted, Pitt called John Swofford, who immediately set up a conference call with all ACC ADs and Presidents, and Pitt and Syracuse were voted in.

ND was angry because the ACC had told ND it would not act to harm BE football, and Pitt also had told ND the same thing. ND calmed once it learned that Pitt had no choice but to call Swoffird because if Pitt did nit take the Big XII offer then WVU would, so BE football would be harmed deeply either way. The ACC added Pitt and Syracuse to make certain they did not go Big XII.

All that led to the ACC deal with ND.

And that spurred the BT to get even with the ACC by expanding to 14. I think the BT was stupid enough to think that the ACC would be left reeling at losing Maryland. Louisville is a replacement that works very well for the ACC. Then the BT took Rutgers. Both were exclusively about TV markets, hoping to harm the ACC.

Now, everything is about Notre Dame and Texas.
 

Toga

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But it was far from calm behind the curtains. Texas knew the SWC was Dead Man Walking. The Pac reached out and all but offered UT and A&M to make a Pac 12. That would have added the very valuable state of TX to the Rose Bowl alliance. Aggie even then was totally uninterested is going Left Coast.

Texas flirted with a Big 8-SWC merger, but 16 teams seemed far too unwieldy. Allegedly, the BT told Texas it would take both UT and A&M. Finally, both SWC and Big 8 dissolved their charters and disbanded, and then the 8 of the Big 8 and Texas, A&M, Baylor and TexasTech became the new league the Big XII. That the Big XII was NOT the Big 8 expanded to 12 is very important to the demise of the Big XII.

Miami's goal was to be in the ACC, and that did not change with BE football. When Erickson's zoo/circus/playpen for troubled boys forced his cancellation, Miami President Tad Foote hired Butch Davis with one order: clean up the program so it does not keep the university out of the ACC. My first post online was in 1998, and I said I had learned from a Bama booster who was good friends with a Florida booster in Miami that Miami was working hard to get an ACC invite. The BE knew what Miami was doing back then. When we added Miami and VT, the ACC, upset that Tranghese lied to the public, released proof that in 1998 the BE offered to let the ACC 'have' Miami, Cuse, BC, and Pitt for football season, but they would remain BE basketball.

By 2000, Miami was advocating that the ACC go to 12, with Miami, Cuse, and BC. FSU immediately backed the Miami Plan. It was a given that any BE team offered by the ACC would leave because Miami could not be replaced. Behind the scenes, VT was playing excellent state politics, arranging things so that UVA would vote NO on expansion unless VT were included. VT began the ACC's 10th, and Miami was the 11th.

But neither BC nor Cuse was added then. The reason is that the ACC and Notre Dame were talking. ND and the ACC had been allies on virtually all issues back to opposition to Jock Dorms. And ND even then knew that it required Major conference memberships for all sports but football and might need it later for football. Supposedly, ND back them agreed to be a full member of the ACC if the league played only 5 football games per year. The ACC could not go that low, obviously. So then BC got the nod, probably because so many Cuse basketball boosters were less than thrilled about leaving the BE.

The Big XII had never been fully stable, because Nebraska had never been fully happy. It lost its annual game with OU, and Texas became THE Big XII power broker immediately. That meant that the SEC kept looking at A&M to get into TX. It also meant that Texas would keep looking at possibilities. The Big XI began to fall apart when the Big Ten again failed to get ND to join. The BT decided to take Nebraska so it could have a Championship Game. That occurred as Texas was flirting with the Pac, to take A&M, OU, and Ok ST to make the Pac 16. Colorado did leave for the Pac 12. That gave the Pac Rocky Mountains, which it hoped would greatly increase its revenue.

The remaining 10 in the Big XII were not stable. A&M lost all trust in Texas with the start of the LHN. Missouri had hoped to get into the BT. KU would have done anything to get into the BT. The SEC knew it must act to get into TX or lose that possibility. The Aggies were taken to be the SEC's 13th. Later, the SEC added Missouri for 14 members.

The Big XII added TCU to replace A&M. It needed a 10th, and the Big XII looked at Pitt first. The plan was to take Pitt and use the old ND rival to offer ND a scheduling arrangement. The second that Pitt knew it was in the Big XII if it wanted, Pitt called John Swofford, who immediately set up a conference call with all ACC ADs and Presidents, and Pitt and Syracuse were voted in.

ND was angry because the ACC had told ND it would not act to harm BE football, and Pitt also had told ND the same thing. ND calmed once it learned that Pitt had no choice but to call Swoffird because if Pitt did nit take the Big XII offer then WVU would, so BE football would be harmed deeply either way. The ACC added Pitt and Syracuse to make certain they did not go Big XII.

All that led to the ACC deal with ND.

And that spurred the BT to get even with the ACC by expanding to 14. I think the BT was stupid enough to think that the ACC would be left reeling at losing Maryland. Louisville is a replacement that works very well for the ACC. Then the BT took Rutgers. Both were exclusively about TV markets, hoping to harm the ACC.

Now, everything is about Notre Dame and Texas.
Well sure, there's that.
 

nd1973

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Holy Toledo Batman. Enjoyable read my man.

Really it's more about Texas and Oklahoma. ND is spoken for in most regards. If our hand is forced we will join the ACC, much like you see with the COVID membership.
 
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Alsacs

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If Duke and North Carolina were okay with ACC expansion. Then 2003 expansion is Syracuse, Boston College, Miami.

Virginia Tech only got in because Marc Warner leveraged Virginia.
The ACC required 7 of 9 members approve of any additions.

Duke and North Carolina were against all expansion to protect basketball home/homes in conference play.

If Duke and UNC didn’t have their position then SU/BC/Miami get in as Virginia isn’t leveraged by Marc Warner to help Virginia Tech.

If Virginia Tech doesn’t go to the ACC in 2003 then when the SEC expanded in 2011 with Texas A&M in the West the Virginia Tech Hokies are likely the SEC selection for the East division and put the state of Virginia in the SEC.

Duke and UNC played a major role in what has transpired by their position to be against an ACC expansion beyond just Miami. It gave Warner all the leverage to force UVA’s hand.
 

SU68

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WoadBlue, great presentation. What does your crystal ball tell you about the future makeup of the ACC?
 

elimunelson

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If Duke and North Carolina were okay with ACC expansion. Then 2003 expansion is Syracuse, Boston College, Miami.

Virginia Tech only got in because Marc Warner leveraged Virginia.
The ACC required 7 of 9 members approve of any additions.

Duke and North Carolina were against all expansion to protect basketball home/homes in conference play.

If Duke and UNC didn’t have their position then SU/BC/Miami get in as Virginia isn’t leveraged by Marc Warner to help Virginia Tech.

If Virginia Tech doesn’t go to the ACC in 2003 then when the SEC expanded in 2011 with Texas A&M in the West the Virginia Tech Hokies are likely the SEC selection for the East division and put the state of Virginia in the SEC.

Duke and UNC played a major role in what has transpired by their position to be against an ACC expansion beyond just Miami. It gave Warner all the leverage to force UVA’s hand.
if the original teams left, i wonder if the Big East would have had the 2.0 period with Cincy, Louisville, et al. I suspect all the moves would have been expedited early in the aughts.
 

Alsacs

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if the original teams left, i wonder if the Big East would have had the 2.0 period with Cincy, Louisville, et al. I suspect all the moves would have been expedited early in the aughts.
No Syracuse in the Big East accelerates a split between the football and catholic schools.

Pittsburgh/Virginia Tech/West Virginia/Rutgers/UConn + Louisville/Cincinnati/South Florida is a 8 conference all sports league.

They likely try and find one more team or keep Temple.

Virginia Tech gets scooped by another conference eventually.
Pitt/WVU as well.
 

stlorange

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Great recap and enjoyable read! What does your crystal ball say for the future?
 

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