By James Hamrin, from Southern New Hampshire University
The need for Connecticut and Cincinnati to get into a better conference hasn’t been so glaring as these past few years. The addition of two teams to the Big 12 Conference has been so glaring to many. If Oklahoma had two losses in football, would they have made the playoff? NOPE!
Let’s look at the four teams in the playoff. Michigan State. Yes they deserved to be there; but I felt Ohio State belonged more than they did! Oklahoma I felt was mmmeehhhhhhhhhh and Stanford should have been in! With that being said, I feel the match up should have been Clemson vs. Stanford and Alabama vs. Ohio St. Knowing what we know now, those games would have had a better likelihood of being closer than what we actually witnessed in the first round of the playoff games.
Now back to the Big 12 issue, with the NCAA giving them the conference championship game at 10 teams, while everyone is at 12+ teams. It looks like they caved, but unless a team comes out with zero or one loss, they won’t put any teams in the playoff with the new rule passing. Their conference is already a joke which is why Oklahoma, WVU and possibly other schools are looking to adding 2 teams, and UConn and Cincinnati top the list.
Let’s look at the potential match ups in college basketball. UConn vs. Kansas, UConn vs. Oklahoma, UConn vs. Oklahoma State, UConn vs. Kansas State, UConn vs. Texas, UConn vs. Cincinnati, UConn vs. West Virginia, UConn vs. Baylor, UConn vs. Texas Tech, UConn vs. Iowa State, and UConn vs. TCU.
These are some pretty great match ups that could be played in a Top 25-tough arena environment every night. This could be stopped by ESPN since they only feel the ten teams are enough, but why would the Big 12 want to add SMU or Houston since it doesn’t give the conference any recruiting help? Adding Texas schools do nothing; they need other states to make it possible. I believe that the Big 12 is more like the Big East used to be; five to eight really good football teams and four to seven good basketball teams. I see it as mostly a basketball conference and the Cincinnati/UConn additions would take the Big 12 and volt them to the second best conference behind the Big 10. I rank the power 5 conferences in football as SEC, Big 10, Pac 12, Big 12, and ACC. If the two above additions take place, the basketball conferences go as follows: Big 10, Big 12, Big East, ACC, and SEC.
It only helps the three sides as it puts the Big 12 back at 12 teams and reduces two from the American Athletic Conference! This leads me to the topic of, does this mean football is important or basketball? I think it is a bit of both. Connecticut football is back on the rise with Bobby Diacco as head coach after that disaster of a coach a few years ago. They bring a powerhouse basketball program for both men and women. The Cincinnati-side brings tough football and basketball programs. It brings the Big 12 conference Cincinnati, New York, and Boston, which are three top 25 media markets in the country with a lot of viewers and followers which is something the Big 10 could have, but they thought Rutgers was New York, LOL. I guess they forgot what Madison Square Garden looked like when UConn played Iowa State and Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament. It was mostly UConn fans because they are so close to New York and you can’t say that with most teams. Hopefully ESPN doesn’t try to put their nose where it doesn’t belong like in the relocation process in the NFL, where the NFL took the Chargers, Raiders, and an ESPN proposal basically told them, “no thanks.” Now, if a conference didn’t take help from ESPN on conference realignment, would UConn and Cincinnati be playing in the American Athletic Conference right now? Hopefully soon, the Big 12 votes to expand and bring Connecticut and Cincinnati to a power 5 conference where they both deserve to be, instead of being stuck in quicksand, slowly dying and becoming insignificant.