UConn Huskies

RALEIGH, NC - OCTOBER 31:  The North Carolina State Wolfpack run onto the field before their game against the Clemson Tigers at Carter-Finley Stadium on October 31, 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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NC State announces future series with Texas Tech, Vandy, UConn

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Tuesday afternoon, North Carolina State decided to do a rather hefty scheduling dump.

That football program announced earlier in the day today that it has reached an agreement on three future home-and-home series, including one each against Texas Tech and Vanderbilt.  The Tech series will take place in the years 2022 (Raleigh, N.C.) and 2027 (Lubbock), while the Vandy series will be played in 2026 (Nashville) and 2028 (Raleigh).

The Wolfpack owns a 4-1 advantage in the all-time series against the Red Raiders, with the last meeting coming in 2003.  The Commodores have beaten the Wolfpack in both previous meetings, including a 38-24 win in the 2012 Music City Bowl.  The only other previous meeting came back in 1946.

In addition to those two series, NCSU will also take on UConn in a third home-and-home.  The Wolfpack will host the first game of that series in 2022, while the Huskies will return the favor the following season.

NCSU has won both games between the two football programs, the first one coming in 2003 and the most recent in 2012.

BC nixes Red Sox offer to play 2016 UConn game at Fenway Park

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 21:  A general view of Fenway Park before the game between the Boston College Eagles and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on November 21, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Boston College was afforded the opportunity to play a college football game at historic Fenway Park last season, but won’t take advantage of a similar opportunity this upcoming season.

According to a report from the Boston Globe, BC has turned down an offer from the Boston Red Sox to play their Nov. 19 game against UConn at Fenway Park.  While there were ticket allocation concerns for last year’s game against Notre Dame at the baseball park — as well as concerns over sight lines and tailgating atmosphere and the like that can’t be easily fixed — that wouldn’t the case this year as BC would’ve served as the home team.

Rather, the athletic department’s decision to reject the MLB club’s overtures came down to the simple fact that, in part because they are already scheduled to play a “home” game in Ireland, they only have six home games in 2016 and the university doesn’t want to go below that mark in any season.

“Boston College often receives requests to play home games at venues ranging from Gillette Stadium to Fenway Park,’’ Bates said. “We have consistently stated that we will consider the possibility only if it is more beneficial for our team, students, and fans, and only during those years in which we still have at least six games in Alumni Stadium. As a result, playing at Fenway Park during the 2016 season was never an option.”

That said, BC has not completely rejected the idea of playing at Fenway in the future, and the football program appears to have an open invitation from the baseball organization to play a game whenever it fits into their scheduling agenda.

“Given the positive feedback we received on last November’s Shamrock Series, the Red Sox would love to see a return of BC football to Fenway Park in the near future,’’ Sox president Sam Kennedy said. “We have extended the invitation for BC to return whenever it works for their schedule.”

AAC commissioner Mike Aresco wants Big 12 expansion drama to settle down soon

American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco, addresses the media during an NCAA football media day in Newport, R.I., Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
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The Big East was once the home to six schools currently making a home in the ACC and one each in the Big Ten and Big 12. Realignment changes rattled the Big East a few years back, causing a split of the basketball schools that took the Big East brand with them and leaving the leftover programs to rebrand under the American Athletic Conference. With the Big 12 having internal discussions about the possibility of expanding back to a 12-member line-up, the AAC is watching with caution and waiting for the Big 12 to make a final decision, for better or worse of the AAC. Commissioner Mike Aresco hopes the expansion situation comes to a close soon enough, but he is not wasting time preparing for the possibility of once again seeing one or more member of his conference leave for another.

“I think if we lose a school would we add one? In all likelihood we probably would,”Aresco explained, according to The Orlando Sentinel. “You don’t want to be 11 in football, but on the other hand you could do it. If we lost two, which would probably be the worst-case scenario … we could stay at 10. With the new legislation, we could easily stay at 10, play a championship game, have 5 team divisions and have an eight-game [conference] schedule. We could do that if we wanted to.”

The NCAA recently allowed for conferences to play a conference championship game despite not having the usually required 12 members. The AAC started playing a conference championship game last season after the addition of Navy brought the conference to 12 football-playing members. The new NCAA legislation regarding conference championship games allows a conference to hold a title game with fewer than 12 teams, which was figured to benefit the Big 12. The Big 12, however, has not made a decision on whether or not it will play a conference title game.

“We have 12 good schools that are nationally known and if we lose one or two we’ll figure it out,” Aresco said. “It’s not going to be an Earth-shattering thing. It’s not going to be anything like it was three years ago.”

Aresco was referring to the loss of Louisville to the ACC and Rutgers to the Big Ten. Pittsburgh and Syracuse had already joined the ACC and West Virginia was competing in the Big 12. Since then, multiple AAC schools have been mentioned in various expansion rumors and discussions as possibilities, some more realistic than others. Cincinnati, Connecticut, Memphis, UCF, USF and Houston have all been mentioned at one point or another as potential targets for the Big 12. Once the Big 12 makes its decision final, at least Aresco and the entire AAC will be able to move on with some clearer vision of what comes next.

“I would like to see it settle down,” Aresco said. “There has been instability because of this whole Big 12 thing for the last few years. It’s not good for the schools. It’s not good for the fan bases. It puts pressure on our administrators and our coaches because they have to get asked this question.”

No evidence UConn has been making Power Five conference push

Connecticut football runs a play under a scoreboard displaying a blue and yellow ribbon honoring for those injured and killed in the Boston Marathon bombings during UConn's Blue-White spring NCAA college football game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., Saturday, April 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
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Last week it was learned Cincinnati is actively pursuing membership in the Big 12, a conference that continues to weigh the pros and cons of expansion. Other AAC teams that have for one reason or another been thrown into Big 12 realignment talk, be they geographic fits like Houston or purely for the sake of filling space in newspapers like Temple, figure to be in the rumor mill discussions to various extents. One program perhaps feeling left out from the previous massive shifts in realignment is UConn. It would seem, at this point, the Huskies have settled in with their new spot in the AAC.

The Hartford Courant recently submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the University of Connecticut for any documents related to potential conference realignment. The request came back empty as the newspaper was informed there were no relevant documents to share. Unless there are some shady operations going on behind closed doors with no paper trail, then it seems UConn is not actively pursuing a new conference home. There are a couple of reasons why that may be.

First, the more natural fit for UConn would be a conference that falls much closer within the school’s reach. If the ACC is not going to come calling to invite UConn to join former Big East allies Boston College, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and Miami, then UConn is more than likely stuck. The only other power conference fit that would make sense for the Huskies would be the Big Ten, and that is even more unlikely to happen than the ACC. Even if the Big 12 got desperate to expand to 12 members, the Huskies would more than likely be far down the list of options. If West Virginia is a program that is left isolated in its own little corner of the Big 12, UConn would be on the outer rim of the Big 12’s solar system.

Second, UConn has already made the difficult decision to abandon the Big East. The Huskies went all in with football at the expense of breaking up its long-standing history in the Big East in basketball. Has that been worth it?

If an invitation to join the Big 12 or any other power conference does one day end up reaching Storrs, Connecticut, then there should be some serious conversations about whether to accept or not. However, UConn’s window to join a power conference has likely been closed.

Expand or not to expand? ‘Come this summer,’ Big 12 to decide

Matt Ritchey
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For those hoping for a piece of the Power Five financial pie, you should get an answer, one way or the other, in the next few months.

Earlier this month, the Cincinnati Enquirer obtained emails detailing Cincinnati’s back-room campaign for inclusion in the Big 12, with those missives showing the university seemingly has an ally in their cause in Oklahoma president David Boren.  In an interview with Jake Trotter of The Oklahoman Tuesday, Boren, the driving force behind the league’s potential move to expand, confirmed that the expansion issue for his conference should be coming to a head at some point before the end of summer.

“We’re in a fact-finding mode, we’re in a data-gathering mode,” Boren, who previously admitted he was very frustrated the league let Louisville get away, told Trotter. “In other words, what will it mean to the stability of the conference? What will it mean financially to the conference?

“We’ve sort of said to ourselves, come this summer, we’re going to have to finally make a decision about what we do. We cannot indefinitely postpone decisions. That’s what I had gotten frustrated about. I thought we were spinning our wheels.

There are other issues tied to any expansion of the Big 12 from its current 10 schools to 12, most notably folding Texas’ Longhorn Network and the other university’s third-tier media properties into a league-wide network similar to the ones that serve as personal ATMs for the Big Ten and SEC. On that front, it’s intimated there’s some willingness in Austin to bend.

For now, the prime directive is convincing the holdouts that expansion is necessary and convincing Texas to give up The Longhorn Network for the greater good of a Big 12 Network.

“What’s good about it, I would say, no one’s slammed the door shut on any possibilities,” Boren said. “We’re doing what we should do. We’re being prudent, we’re being diligent. We’re reviewing all the data.”

As for potential expansion candidates, the data shows there are a handful of possibilities — or the usual suspects as some would label them. In addition to Cincinnati, Boise State, BYU, UConn, UCF and USF have been mentioned to varying degrees as fits for an expanded Big 12. Houston would seemingly be an ideal candidate as well, although there would likely be pushback from the state of Texas contingent in the league.

A geographic partner for one of the new members of the league, West Virginia, would seem to be at or near the top of any potential expansion to-do list. It’s also rumored that the league would want to expand further to the west and toward the Pac-12’s territory.

Myriad factors will not only go into deciding whether or not to expand, but just who to add if expansion is agreed upon.

“I think people are being very sincere about trying to look at the figures and the facts,” Boren said. “Not be emotional about it or ‘I want this school’ or ‘I want that.’

“Well, what are their academics? What’s their research base? How well do they fit our academic profile? How well do they fit our fan base profile? How many dollars in their market do they bring to the table? We’re looking at all that. In terms of the network and those dollars, we’re looking with our TV consultants to tell us.”

At some point before the 2016 season kicks off — officials will meet again in May after failing to reach a consensus at meetings earlier this month — the conference will answer those questions and decide to expand or not to expand. Here’s to guessing it’ll be the former, and BYU and Cincinnati will be very pleased with the direction the conference takes.