Friday, June 11, 2010

What Could Realignment Mean to the Green?

The sports world is abuzz this week--especially in this part of the country--with Colorado and then Nebraska opting to leave the Big 12 Conference for what they undoubtedly hope will be greener pastures. And that raises all kinds of questions: Will the bulk of the Big 12 South bolt to the Pac-10? Or will ├╝ber-rivals Texas and Texas A&M actually head for different conferences?

But my question, as a proud (if long-suffering) alumnus of UNT, is this: Can the Mean Green find a way to benefit from all this realignment?

I'm not the only one talking about this, of course. Brett Vito of the Denton Record-Chronicle's Mean Green Blog weighs in on the subject, and he sees a few possible scenarios:
  • The Big 10 raids the Big East, which raids Conference USA, which could then raid the Sen Belt to replenish itself; UNT would then move to C-USA as part of the deal.

  • The Big 12 disintegrates, several of its teams go to the Mountain West and are joined by Boise State of the WAC. The WAC decides to add a few teams in the eastern area, and UNT joins them.

  • Nothing changes; UNT stays in the Sun Belt.
Admittedly, reading things like Scenario #1 above will make your head spin after a while. But that's the nature of college athletics right now, at least until the fate of the Big 12 is determined.

Even if nothing more changes with the Big 12, I'd love to see UNT "move up" at some point in time. Sure, the Sun Belt has been more than enough competition for the Mean Green during the down cycle of the past few years, but with any luck, the new stadium will boost the level of excitement for the next several years, and hopefully, that excitement will translate into wins. And if that happens, I'd love to see UNT in a conference that's not quite so spread out. It's not always easy to get excited about seeing your alma mater play Troy or Middle Tennessee, and I still get Florida International and Florida Atlantic mixed up on a yearly basis.

What I'd really like to see is a conference with a lot of natural rivalries--say, the major Texas schools that aren't in the Big 12 (or a future Pac-16, or whatever): SMU, TCU, Rice, Houston, maybe UTEP. There would need to be a few more schools to fill out a conference, but I bet the games would be well-attended because of the short travel times and high likelihood of having friends or family who attended one of the other schools.

But none of this--besides winning more games in the future, of course--is in UNT's hands. It all depends on what happens with the Big 12, and Texas appears to be in the driver's seat there. Stay tuned!

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