One of the most fascinating, and equally annoying subplots of the conference realignment merry go round we’ve experienced the last few months, is that it’s simply impossible to decipher fact from fiction. Some leaked information has proven to be true (Texas A&M to the SEC for example), while much more hasn’t. After all, how many people were reporting that Oklahoma was a done deal to the Pac-12 at this point a month ago? Quite a few, I’d say.
Anyway, despite the up and down nature of this coverage, there are some reports that surface which are just so goofy, so outrageous and so silly, really, that they need to be taken not only with a grain of salt, but with a loud giggle as well. One of those reports came from ESPN.com Wednesday night when it was suggested that one school on the Big XII’s expansion radar is…
…Are you ready for this…
Yes, that Tulane. The school that won a combined 10 games during the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons. The school that hasn’t made a bowl game since the 2002 season. The school that even other crappy Conference USA schools make fun of. The school that— well, you get the point.
Granted, an awful lot would have to go wrong for the Big XII for the Tulane to end up in the conference. After all, the Green Wave aren’t riding into a Dust Bowl town near you overnight.
Here are the parameters for Tulane to even considered be considered for the Big XII:
1. Missouri would have to leave the Big XII, almost assuredly for the SEC, since according to reports, the Big Ten seems to have little interest. Since my colleague Allen Kenney did an excellent job breaking this down last evening, I won’t expand.
2. Under the assumption that Missouri does leave the Big XII, that would knock the conference down to just eight teams. Nebraska and Colorado obviously left last summer, with Texas A&M set to leave this summer, and under this scenario, Missouri too would follow suit.
Well, according to this article, at that point, the Big XII would be looking to expand; their target to get back to 12 teams (Wouldn’t it be TOTALLY crazy for a conference called the “Big XII” to actually have 12 teams?) Anyway, in their pursuit for 12, the obvious expansion candidates for the conference would be to bring in BYU as an independent, TCU from wherever they end up (Mountain West? Big East? AFC South?) and then eventually hijack Louisville and Cincinnati from the Big East. Since, after all, who the hell wants to stick around the Big East to play football?
3. And finally, assuming that Missouri leaves, and assuming that the conference is looking to expand, and under a third assumed hypothetical that BYU doesn’t want to give up independence, and the conference is instead stuck at 11… then Tulane would be asked to join the Big XII.
Got all that? Good, there’ll be a pop quiz later.
Anyway, as we mentioned before, it’s a lot of hypotheticals and assumption, making the whole situation cloudier than Dana Holgorsen’s brain after a six-pack of Bud Heavy’s on a Friday night. If anything, all you need to know is that Tulane is a back-up plan, to a back-up plan, under the hypothetical circumstance that Missouri does leave the conference.
And honestly, if I were a betting man, I’d say with most certainty that it’ll never happen. You’re more likely to see DeLoss Dodds and the folks at A&M roasting marshmallows around a campfire than you are to see Tulane playing a conference game in Stillwater or Austin. Mark it down in black ink.
Granted, I don’t know the exact economics of the situation, but I really do find it hard to believe Tulane offers more as a school and program then say, Air Force, Boise State, San Diego State or teams of similar ilk. Even though Tulane plays in a major city (New Orleans) and in a professional stadium (Super Dome), what does it all mean if you’re playing in front of 10,000 people every weekend? Not to mention how would the Athletic Directors and Presidents of the Big XII sell their fans on Tulane, a school that can’t even get to .500 in…Conference USA? You can’t really.
Moving away from Tulane, there is one more subplot of this whole scenario that I can’t seem to figure out, and I feel like people should be discussing more. That’s this: Where are UConn and Rutgers in this whole mess? Under this plan, if Louisville and Cincinnati were to leave the Big East, what would be the point in UConn and Rutgers sticking around? There wouldn’t be one obviously, meaning that if the Big XII really were looking for expansion candidates beyond the four listed above, wouldn’t either of Rutgers or UConn make a whole hell of a lot more sense than Tulane?
The answer of course is yes.
Meaning, that maybe it’s time to change the question.
Are the wheels already in motion for those two schools to go somewhere else? Otherwise, why wouldn’t the Big XII seemingly be more aggressive with them?
Just something to chew on, as the conference realignment rumors continue to fly.
Follow Aaron Torres on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.