Big 12 expansion options limited by ACC grant of rights

The Seminoles won't be joining the Big 12 any time soon - Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The massive realignment of the last several years may now be finished.

Those hoping that the Big 12 conference will expand in the near future to include more than the 10 current teams got some bad news on Monday because the member schools of the ACC are set to hand over their media rights:

The ACC will announce a 15-school grant of media rights deal through 2027, North Carolina radio host David Glenn, also of ACCSports.com, reports. CBS Sports' Jeremy Fowler and ESPN's Brett McMurphy have since confirmed. This would essentially curb speculation of schools leaving the conference for the immediate future.

Such a deal, in layman's terms, means that every school is granting the conference the revenue from certain broadcast rights. Even if a school were to leave, its TV money would stay within the league until the end of the deal. Neither the school nor its new league would make TV money, meaning all ACC schools would be completely off limits.

The major takeaway from this deal is that with the Big 12 and Pac-12 having already made similar moves, since the ACC is no longer a conference that others can raid in hopes of expansion, major realignment will be a thing of the past for the near future and the potential for four 16-team superconferences greatly reduced.

Top potential targets for the Big 12 now off the board include Clemson, Florida State, and Notre Dame. Actually, those were really about the only strong potential targets.

But don't count on Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby being disappointed about the developments. A major proponent of the argument that bigger isn't better, Bowlsby has been consistent in saying that the conference is content at 10 teams and willing to sit on the sidelines of realignment absent overwhelming evidence that the league would benefit from expansion, though skeptics wonder if that really means that there has to be overwhelming evidence that Texas and Oklahoma would benefit from expansion.

If the Big 12 does decide that they want to expand, it will have to focus efforts on members of the American Athletic Conference, the former Big East that will end up housing many former members of Conference USA. With the departure of Louisville to the ACC, the number of appealing options for the Big 12 has never been lower.

Cincinnati is still on the table as a possibility, but otherwise the Big 12 would have to look into expanding into Florida or bringing back former members of the SWC like SMU or Houston.

Florida schools like Central Florida or South Florida would be appealing because they could help open up the fertile state of Florida to Big 12 recruiting efforts, but they wouldn't bring enough television money to the table to make them viable options based on what Bowlsby has been saying.

There is still BYU, as well, but the Cougars have their own television issues and whatever else has kept them from being discussed as a more viable option for the major conferences.

The Big 12 managed to survive, is now operating with a relatively high level of harmony, and didn't have to add schools that provide questionable value, as the Pac-12 did with Utah and Colorado and the Big 10 is set to do with Rutgers and Maryland.

Right now, that looks like a win with superconferences no longer looming on the horizon and the Big 12 no longer in imminent danger of falling behind.

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