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The Dude speaks out on Big 12 expansion from his deathbed on the Big 12's plans to raid the ACC.

Prologue:

I sat on this story for three weeks hoping to  verify details and check with my sources at WVU before making this post – that took about a week then I was caught up in the Jeff Casteel drama and somehow my simple winter cold turned into a sinus infection that migrated to my chest and morphed into pneumonia which delayed almost everything.

I’m much improved today with much thanks to Levaquin and home breathing treatments and thought it best I finish and post this story before it becomes national news.  I've verified the details herein and ran them by contacts in the Big 12, ACC and Big East.

Big 12 Thinking Big

Interim Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Nienas has  plans to expand the conference beyond the current 10 members to 14 or as many 16 members. Neinas believes that with selective expansion the Big 12 could give the SEC competition for the best college football conference in the country while securing the future of the league.

Originally Big 12 members not Texas, Oklahoma or Oklahoma State pushed for expansion to give the conference the numbers needed to withstand further defections by targeting the remaining schools in the Big East.

The plan changed with the grumbling of a few ACC schools over the perceived weakening of the football product by the additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse moved the Big 12 to open preliminary discussions  with them about moving from the ACC to the Big 12.

If the scenario sounds impossible remember that the friction between the Big East basketball only schools and the football schools lead to the departure of four football schools with the remainder scrambling to find a new home.

Several of the schools, who value football more than basketball, are simply tired of North Carolina and the rest of Tobacco Road running the conference without thought to what's best for the entire league -- sound familiar?

ACC football schools such as Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Pitt and Maryland and BC have spoken with the Big 12 over the past few months about switching leagues despite the buyout  the ACC  added last fall to curtail such moves.

The Big 12’s recent success in football and the additions of TCU and West Virginia position the Big 12 to challenge the top-heavy SEC as the nation’s premier college football conference. It’s the potential of  16 team Big 12 and the prospect selling the televisions rights to the highest-bidder that makes the move an attractive option.

Another factor in play is the eventual move of Notre Dame to an all sports conference. The Fighting Irish are aware that several Big East basketball only schools are discussing leaving the Big East and forming their own league. This would effectively force Notre Dame into searching for a new home for their basketball and Olympic Sports  programs.

The choice for Notre Dame seems to be between the Big 12 and ACC with the Big 10 seemingly content with their current configuration. In this scenario Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Boston College, Clemson, Maryland and Florida State would be the most likely additions for the Big 12.

Certainly Notre Dame, who values football far more than basketball, would choose the Big 12 over a depleted ACC.

The addition of these 6 schools would give the Big 12 serious leverage in upcoming television negotiations especially if they have the patience to wait long enough for NBC/Comcast into the bidding.

Keep in mind the above scenario is only the best case scenario with several others that include a mix of Big East and ACC schools. However the Big 12 is likely to expand to 16 only if Notre Dame agrees to join.

I’ll update this later as the situation changes. I realize I haven't provided full details or answered all questions but give me a break... I have pneumonia.

Notes:

WVU and the Big East are so close, yet so far away from a settlement. Both agree that WVU will not be a member of the Big East next year but that’s all they agree on. WVU feels that after the Big 12 schedule is announced the Big East will be forced to amend their schedules for 2012 and damages can be calculated. After the Big 12 releases its schedule its only about money.

Oliver Luck and Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione are both candidates to replace Neinas as Big 12 commissioner.  Luck has an obvious advantage over Castiglione in that he is close to Texas  AD DeLoss Dodds and a graduate of  the Texas School of Law. More importantly Luck has a working relationship with the target ACC schools and connections to NBC sports from his days with NFL Europe.