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Reflections on 1990
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Fighting Muskie Offline
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Reflections on 1990
The 1989-1990 Realignment is somewhat of a fascination of mine. It was the first ever massive, multi-conference realignment. No one yet knew how the realignment game was played but some (SEC) were catching on quicker than others (ACC). I’d like to throw out a few ideas on how it might have played out differently:

Florida St to the SEC: this move probably sends Miami to the ACC and maybe SC too. I think there’s a good chance we see the trio of BE schools more vigorously pursuing membership in the ACC and/or Big 10

The ACC plays more aggressive: The ACC should have played it more aggressive and not stopped at 9. Supposedly, 4 schools were in favor of more expansion but they needed 6. If they take Miami at 10 then and there the next logical step would be for the ACC and Big Ten to split the 3 BE schools among themselves.

Big East mini conference: One article I read from when Miami was added to the Big East as its 10th member speculated that the Big East could form a mini-conference. What if ND would have been interested in this deal? imagine a 12 team BE with 6 football schools: BC, Cuse, Pitt, Miami, ND, and WVU

Penn St doesn’t get the votes: supposedly there was strong opposition to Penn St within the Big 10. Imagine all the possible outcomes if Penn St doesn’t join the Big Ten. Maybe the whole 1989-1990 realignment gets delayed half a decade or more.
(This post was last modified: 02-15-2021 05:48 PM by Fighting Muskie.)
02-15-2021 02:53 PM
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RE: Reflections on 1990
I disagree that 1990 was the first "massive, multi-conference realignment."

First, the 1990 reallignment took several years to play out. The Big 12 was established 4 years after FSU was added to the ACC.

The late 1970s saw a massive, multi-conference reallignment. It hit basketball harder than football, but there were a lot of football changes too:
1975: Metro Conference forms
1976: Sun Belt Conference forms (basketball-only until 2001)
1976: Houston joins Southwest Conference
1976: Florida State joins Metro
1976: ECBL (forerunner of A-10) founded with Villanova, Pitt Penn State, Rutgers, WVU, Duquesne, George Washington, and UMass
1978: Arizona & Arizona State leave WAC & join PAC-12 (announced in May 1977).
1978: San Diego State & Hawai'i added to WAC
1978: PCAA replaces SDSU with Utah State
1978: forerunner to Atlantic Sun forms
1979: Big East forms
1979: Georgia Tech leaves Metro and joins ACC
1979: forerunners of Colonial, Northeast, Horizon, and America East formed
(This post was last modified: 02-15-2021 05:05 PM by Captain Bearcat.)
02-15-2021 04:28 PM
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RE: Reflections on 1990
The SWAC was founded in 1920.
02-15-2021 04:38 PM
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Fighting Muskie Offline
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RE: Reflections on 1990
A lot of those moves were basketball related, as the rules changed regarding independents making the tournament, making it advantageous to play in a conference in order to win an autobid
02-15-2021 04:39 PM
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Captain Bearcat Offline
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RE: Reflections on 1990
(02-15-2021 04:38 PM)Nerdlinger Wrote:  The SWAC was founded in 1920.

Whoops. Don't know why their basketball isn't listed before that. I'll change it.
02-15-2021 05:05 PM
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RE: Reflections on 1990
(02-15-2021 04:39 PM)Fighting Muskie Wrote:  A lot of those moves were basketball related, as the rules changed regarding independents making the tournament, making it advantageous to play in a conference in order to win an autobid

So? Other than the final bullet point, those were all major colleges changing conferences.


Also, a lot of them were football changes:
1976: Houston joins Southwest Conference
1978: Arizona & Arizona State leave WAC & join PAC-12 (announced in May 1977).
1978: San Diego State & Hawai'i added to WAC
1978: PCAA replaces SDSU with Utah State
1979: Georgia Tech leaves Metro and joins ACC
02-15-2021 05:08 PM
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quo vadis Offline
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RE: Reflections on 1990
(02-15-2021 05:05 PM)Captain Bearcat Wrote:  
(02-15-2021 04:38 PM)Nerdlinger Wrote:  The SWAC was founded in 1920.

Whoops. Don't know why their basketball isn't listed before that. I'll change it.

Unfortunately, with HBCU and other small conferences, record-keeping hasn't always been the best.

FWIW, the SWAC tournament has been held since 1978, and SWAC hoops regular season records date back to 1956. Before then, it's hard to dig stuff up.

The SWAC did not gain an auto-bid to the NCAA tournament until 1980, when the field expanded from 40 to 48 teams.
(This post was last modified: 02-15-2021 05:27 PM by quo vadis.)
02-15-2021 05:19 PM
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Fighting Muskie Offline
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RE: Reflections on 1990
(02-15-2021 05:08 PM)Captain Bearcat Wrote:  
(02-15-2021 04:39 PM)Fighting Muskie Wrote:  A lot of those moves were basketball related, as the rules changed regarding independents making the tournament, making it advantageous to play in a conference in order to win an autobid

So? Other than the final bullet point, those were all major colleges changing conferences.


Also, a lot of them were football changes:
1976: Houston joins Southwest Conference
1978: Arizona & Arizona State leave WAC & join PAC-12 (announced in May 1977).
1978: San Diego State & Hawai'i added to WAC
1978: PCAA replaces SDSU with Utah State
1979: Georgia Tech leaves Metro and joins ACC

Right—you basically have the PAC 8 adding a pair of schools, then the trickle down effect. The ailing SWC picked up an urban up and comer and the ACC picked up a floating Indy.

The 1989-1990 moves totally changed the landscape and sent nearly every independent running for conference affiliation.

Then there was the 1994-1996 aftershock: The wounds suffered by the SWC, combined with all increased value of its rivals, sent 4 of its best to the Big 12, you had the dawn of the WAC-16, the Metro-Great West merger, Even all the movement from 2003-2005. All these were the ripples from 1989-1990
02-15-2021 06:06 PM
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Captain Bearcat Offline
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RE: Reflections on 1990
(02-15-2021 06:06 PM)Fighting Muskie Wrote:  
(02-15-2021 05:08 PM)Captain Bearcat Wrote:  
(02-15-2021 04:39 PM)Fighting Muskie Wrote:  A lot of those moves were basketball related, as the rules changed regarding independents making the tournament, making it advantageous to play in a conference in order to win an autobid

So? Other than the final bullet point, those were all major colleges changing conferences.


Also, a lot of them were football changes:
1976: Houston joins Southwest Conference
1978: Arizona & Arizona State leave WAC & join PAC-12 (announced in May 1977).
1978: San Diego State & Hawai'i added to WAC
1978: PCAA replaces SDSU with Utah State
1979: Georgia Tech leaves Metro and joins ACC

Right—you basically have the PAC 8 adding a pair of schools, then the trickle down effect. The ailing SWC picked up an urban up and comer and the ACC picked up a floating Indy.

The 1989-1990 moves totally changed the landscape and sent nearly every independent running for conference affiliation.

Then there was the 1994-1996 aftershock: The wounds suffered by the SWC, combined with all increased value of its rivals, sent 4 of its best to the Big 12, you had the dawn of the WAC-16, the Metro-Great West merger, Even all the movement from 2003-2005. All these were the ripples from 1989-1990

I agree that the football effects were less severe than the early 1990s.

But the basketball effects were much more profound than the early 1990s.

College basketball was a bigger sport than college football back then. Even now, the NCAA tournament is the biggest sporting event in the USA each year, with six times the TV viewership of the Super Bowl.
02-15-2021 06:23 PM
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RE: Reflections on 1990
(02-15-2021 05:19 PM)quo vadis Wrote:  
(02-15-2021 05:05 PM)Captain Bearcat Wrote:  
(02-15-2021 04:38 PM)Nerdlinger Wrote:  The SWAC was founded in 1920.

Whoops. Don't know why their basketball isn't listed before that. I'll change it.

Unfortunately, with HBCU and other small conferences, record-keeping hasn't always been the best.

FWIW, the SWAC tournament has been held since 1978, and SWAC hoops regular season records date back to 1956. Before then, it's hard to dig stuff up.

The SWAC did not gain an auto-bid to the NCAA tournament until 1980, when the field expanded from 40 to 48 teams.

Yes, if you look at the SWAC media guide for football, there’s early years where they don’t even know the conference standings. So starting with the first season (1921), there’s a few seasons that just list the teams and champion, but no known standings.
02-15-2021 06:27 PM
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Captain Bearcat Offline
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RE: Reflections on 1990
(02-15-2021 06:27 PM)IWokeUpLikeThis Wrote:  
(02-15-2021 05:19 PM)quo vadis Wrote:  
(02-15-2021 05:05 PM)Captain Bearcat Wrote:  
(02-15-2021 04:38 PM)Nerdlinger Wrote:  The SWAC was founded in 1920.

Whoops. Don't know why their basketball isn't listed before that. I'll change it.

Unfortunately, with HBCU and other small conferences, record-keeping hasn't always been the best.

FWIW, the SWAC tournament has been held since 1978, and SWAC hoops regular season records date back to 1956. Before then, it's hard to dig stuff up.

The SWAC did not gain an auto-bid to the NCAA tournament until 1980, when the field expanded from 40 to 48 teams.

Yes, if you look at the SWAC media guide for football, there’s early years where they don’t even know the conference standings. So starting with the first season (1921), there’s a few seasons that just list the teams and champion, but no known standings.

You would think that this would be a super-easy thesis topic for a history PhD student. It would get tons of media citations & could easily make someone's career.
02-15-2021 06:39 PM
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RE: Reflections on 1990
About the ACC in 1990, I believe that ACC commissioner Gene Corrigan understood that enhancing football was paramount. His priorities were Penn State, Syracuse and FSU.

Unfortunately, ACC presidents weren’t inclined to expand and basketball interests were difficult to overcome. For example, Maryland was concerned with the impact of admitting Penn State on its football program (Maryland lost annually to Penn State in the 1960s, 70s and 80s). It was only because the Big Ten expanded with Penn State, that ACC presidents became convinced that football was a bigger priority and expansion was needed.

If FSU had chosen the SEC, then I believe that the ACC would have first tried harder with Syracuse. The Big East didn’t yet compete in football and the ACC provided the highest media payouts...an attractive offer to Syracuse. Miami’s football reputation (brash, outlaws??) was worrisome to the staid ACC leadership of 1990.
02-15-2021 10:00 PM
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RE: Reflections on 1990
(02-15-2021 04:28 PM)Captain Bearcat Wrote:  I disagree that 1990 was the first "massive, multi-conference realignment."

First, the 1990 reallignment took several years to play out. The Big 12 was established 4 years after FSU was added to the ACC.

The late 1970s saw a massive, multi-conference reallignment. It hit basketball harder than football, but there were a lot of football changes too:
1975: Metro Conference forms
1976: Sun Belt Conference forms (basketball-only until 2001)
1976: Houston joins Southwest Conference
1976: Florida State joins Metro
1976: ECBL (forerunner of A-10) founded with Villanova, Pitt Penn State, Rutgers, WVU, Duquesne, George Washington, and UMass
1978: Arizona & Arizona State leave WAC & join PAC-12 (announced in May 1977).
1978: San Diego State & Hawai'i added to WAC
1978: PCAA replaces SDSU with Utah State
1978: forerunner to Atlantic Sun forms
1979: Big East forms
1979: Georgia Tech leaves Metro and joins ACC
1979: forerunners of Colonial, Northeast, Horizon, and America East formed

I believe that the OU/UGA law suit which wrested the TV contract away from the NCAA is actually the birth of the current realignment movement. It took about 4 or 5 years for the networks and conferences to learn how to take advantage of the new largess. But clearly that was the launching point. I say that because prior to that there wasn't a network vernacular in the AD's offices. Nobody spoke of market footprints before the OU/UGA lawsuit. Nobody spoke of valuations based on market share, and nobody discussed national and regional draws for the purposes of controlling advertising rates.

You know you've had a paradigm shift in any industry when the verbiage changes.

Prior to that the changes you list were common but those kinds of changes had been the rule going back to the 20's and 30's. Schools have always sought higher peer groups, better associations, and usually within a specified geography that was first set up by rail service, then interstate connections, and now by air hubs. But, only networks give us Missouri in the SEC, West Virginia in the Big 12, and Rutgers in the Big 10, or even Notre Dame in the ACC. it's different now and I don't see the genie going back into the bottle (or lamp). You may add Content Value to the change in terminology as streaming will take us back to the original market driver.

The rush to get noticed for TV dollars has led to massive wasteful spending on the sport by many schools that will never recoup the expenditures. And it has made facilities providers and coaches super wealthy skewing their worth to society relative to scientists, surgeons, and our top military personnel, heck, even the Congress and President (even though they line their pockets in other ways.)
02-15-2021 11:39 PM
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RE: Reflections on 1990
(02-15-2021 02:53 PM)Fighting Muskie Wrote:  Penn St doesn’t get the votes: supposedly there was strong opposition to Penn St within the Big 10. Imagine all the possible outcomes if Penn St doesn’t join the Big Ten. Maybe the whole 1989-1990 realignment gets delayed half a decade or more.

The problem Penn State had was their school was so big and in the 5th most populated state that the ACC just wasn't a good fit.

The setup with the feeder PSU campuses is similar to what OSU has in Ohio. Maryland's campuses operate more like separate colleges. Virginia has a couple of branches but largely doesn't have a feeder system. North Carolina its separate colleges. Clemson is a land grant but more in the model of Virginia's system.

For this reason also PSU fans viewed the B1G schedule as an upgrade over Syracuse, WVU, Pitt as they were smaller schools.

There is a minority that feels an eastern conference is a better fit. I suspect that isn't the case any longer with Rutgers & Maryland in the conference.
02-16-2021 12:43 AM
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RE: Reflections on 1990
(02-15-2021 10:00 PM)Wahoowa84 Wrote:  About the ACC in 1990, I believe that ACC commissioner Gene Corrigan understood that enhancing football was paramount. His priorities were Penn State, Syracuse and FSU.

Unfortunately, ACC presidents weren’t inclined to expand and basketball interests were difficult to overcome. For example, Maryland was concerned with the impact of admitting Penn State on its football program (Maryland lost annually to Penn State in the 1960s, 70s and 80s). It was only because the Big Ten expanded with Penn State, that ACC presidents became convinced that football was a bigger priority and expansion was needed.

If FSU had chosen the SEC, then I believe that the ACC would have first tried harder with Syracuse. The Big East didn’t yet compete in football and the ACC provided the highest media payouts...an attractive offer to Syracuse. Miami’s football reputation (brash, outlaws??) was worrisome to the staid ACC leadership of 1990.

Except Syracuse didn’t get a serious look in 1990, besides the infamous “napkin story” they were only mentioned as a possible football affiliate with the Big East teams. Obviously that wasn’t getting off the ground as Syracuse basketball steered their ship and the Big East was their harbor.

Miami, on the other hand, was seriously considered and there was serious mutual interest. Brash or not.

As a side note unrelated to your post, expansion is never commandeered by the coaches, who have to travel and you know, actually play the opponents. I mentioned this on the ACC board:

Dean Smith wanted Vanderbilt and not Florida State.

Bobby Knight wanted Iowa State and not Penn State.

Both coaches were friendly with their desired counterpart, but honestly both of those universities fit the conference profile at the time. The coaches weren’t looking at the money, but which schools made sense if money wasn’t paramount and instead competition and mission were.
02-16-2021 10:32 AM
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RE: Reflections on 1990
(02-15-2021 06:27 PM)IWokeUpLikeThis Wrote:  
(02-15-2021 05:19 PM)quo vadis Wrote:  
(02-15-2021 05:05 PM)Captain Bearcat Wrote:  
(02-15-2021 04:38 PM)Nerdlinger Wrote:  The SWAC was founded in 1920.

Whoops. Don't know why their basketball isn't listed before that. I'll change it.

Unfortunately, with HBCU and other small conferences, record-keeping hasn't always been the best.

FWIW, the SWAC tournament has been held since 1978, and SWAC hoops regular season records date back to 1956. Before then, it's hard to dig stuff up.

The SWAC did not gain an auto-bid to the NCAA tournament until 1980, when the field expanded from 40 to 48 teams.

Yes, if you look at the SWAC media guide for football, there’s early years where they don’t even know the conference standings. So starting with the first season (1921), there’s a few seasons that just list the teams and champion, but no known standings.

Yes, and in fairness, this isn't only a problem with the SWAC. If you look at say the SEC media guide, there are disputes between schools like Florida and Georgia over who won a game in 1912 or something. College football stretches back a long way and wasn't always the big business it is now, so incentives for record keeping weren't always there.
02-16-2021 10:59 AM
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Post: #17
RE: Reflections on 1990
(02-15-2021 02:53 PM)Fighting Muskie Wrote:  The 1989-1990 Realignment is somewhat of a fascination of mine. It was the first ever massive, multi-conference realignment. No one yet knew how the realignment game was played but some (SEC) were catching on quicker than others (ACC). I’d like to throw out a few ideas on how it might have played out differently:

Florida St to the SEC: this move probably sends Miami to the ACC and maybe SC too. I think there’s a good chance we see the trio of BE schools more vigorously pursuing membership in the ACC and/or Big 10

The ACC plays more aggressive: The ACC should have played it more aggressive and not stopped at 9. Supposedly, 4 schools were in favor of more expansion but they needed 6. If they take Miami at 10 then and there the next logical step would be for the ACC and Big Ten to split the 3 BE schools among themselves.

Big East mini conference: One article I read from when Miami was added to the Big East as its 10th member speculated that the Big East could form a mini-conference. What if ND would have been interested in this deal? imagine a 12 team BE with 6 football schools: BC, Cuse, Pitt, Miami, ND, and WVU

Penn St doesn’t get the votes: supposedly there was strong opposition to Penn St within the Big 10. Imagine all the possible outcomes if Penn St doesn’t join the Big Ten. Maybe the whole 1989-1990 realignment gets delayed half a decade or more.
1990 is what got me permanently interested in conference realignment and been following since.
02-16-2021 11:06 AM
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RE: Reflections on 1990
(02-15-2021 11:39 PM)JRsec Wrote:  
(02-15-2021 04:28 PM)Captain Bearcat Wrote:  I disagree that 1990 was the first "massive, multi-conference realignment."

First, the 1990 reallignment took several years to play out. The Big 12 was established 4 years after FSU was added to the ACC.

The late 1970s saw a massive, multi-conference reallignment. It hit basketball harder than football, but there were a lot of football changes too:
1975: Metro Conference forms
1976: Sun Belt Conference forms (basketball-only until 2001)
1976: Houston joins Southwest Conference
1976: Florida State joins Metro
1976: ECBL (forerunner of A-10) founded with Villanova, Pitt Penn State, Rutgers, WVU, Duquesne, George Washington, and UMass
1978: Arizona & Arizona State leave WAC & join PAC-12 (announced in May 1977).
1978: San Diego State & Hawai'i added to WAC
1978: PCAA replaces SDSU with Utah State
1978: forerunner to Atlantic Sun forms
1979: Big East forms
1979: Georgia Tech leaves Metro and joins ACC
1979: forerunners of Colonial, Northeast, Horizon, and America East formed

I believe that the OU/UGA law suit which wrested the TV contract away from the NCAA is actually the birth of the current realignment movement. It took about 4 or 5 years for the networks and conferences to learn how to take advantage of the new largess. But clearly that was the launching point. I say that because prior to that there wasn't a network vernacular in the AD's offices. Nobody spoke of market footprints before the OU/UGA lawsuit. Nobody spoke of valuations based on market share, and nobody discussed national and regional draws for the purposes of controlling advertising rates.

You know you've had a paradigm shift in any industry when the verbiage changes.

Prior to that the changes you list were common but those kinds of changes had been the rule going back to the 20's and 30's. Schools have always sought higher peer groups, better associations, and usually within a specified geography that was first set up by rail service, then interstate connections, and now by air hubs. But, only networks give us Missouri in the SEC, West Virginia in the Big 12, and Rutgers in the Big 10, or even Notre Dame in the ACC. it's different now and I don't see the genie going back into the bottle (or lamp). You may add Content Value to the change in terminology as streaming will take us back to the original market driver.

The rush to get noticed for TV dollars has led to massive wasteful spending on the sport by many schools that will never recoup the expenditures. And it has made facilities providers and coaches super wealthy skewing their worth to society relative to scientists, surgeons, and our top military personnel, heck, even the Congress and President (even though they line their pockets in other ways.)

Agreed. The 70s changes were minor in the scheme of things. Just adding teams at the bottom and independence no longer being an option in basketball.

The OU/UGA lawsuit changed the major conferences and drove all the realignments through the supersizing and splitting of the WAC into WAC and MWC.

Then the conference network drove the 2010 realignments.

The other big set of realignments were the 50s and 60s when the GI bill changed the colleges and universities. That played out with a bunch of private schools dropping or de-emphasizing sports including the Ivy League, the ACC splitting from the smaller privates, expansion of the SWC, Big 10, Big 8 and the splitting and reformation of the Pac and the departure of Tulane and Georgia Tech from the SEC.

The next major realignment will be driven by one of two things-a) the end of the cable and conference network model which drove the 2010 realignments; and/or b) pay for play.
02-16-2021 11:55 AM
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