Sunday, September 4, 2011

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: Louisville?

Another school that has been mentioned as a possible target for Big 12 expansion is the Louisville Redbirds. Louisville is an up-and-comer in football, a real player in basketball. But what we care about here at is baseball. And in that sport, the Redbirds have turned themselves into a perennial contender.
  • Louisville has been improving during the past dozen years, even though they took a mild dip in 2011. Ranked 168th in RPI at the end of the 2000 season, they rose to a high of 12th in the 2010 season.Their average RPI ranking ( since 2000 has been 76th, a respectable ranking for the Big 12 (MU avg was 63rd).
    2011 97th
    2010 12TH
    2009 24th
    2008 56th
    2007 33rd
    2006 92nd
    2005 69th
    2004 124th
    2003 70th
    2002 43rd
    2001 130th
    2000 168th
  • Louisville would extend the Big 12 footprint eastward, which would expand the conference's media coverage into SEC territory and be a good first move toward expanding further toward the east. Couple the addition of Louisville to a possible addition of Arkansas, and the moves look better together than they do individually.

  • Given its druthers, Louisville would likely prefer annexation to the SEC, where they already have several rivals (Kentucky for one). But Louisville doesn't give the SEC much in terms of expanding their media footprint, as opposed to what they offer the Big 12.

  • There would be somewhat of a built-in rivalry between Mizzou and Louisville, based on that contentious 2007 NCAA Regional at Taylor Stadium. Of course, the chief instigator of that dust-up, Chris Dominguez, is now in the minor leagues, playing alongside Ryan Lollis in the Giants organization.

Big 12 Expansion Targets (Tulsa World)
Why: Expands Big 12 footprint just inside the Eastern Time Zone. Facilities small but recently upgraded. Populous region (Indianapolis, Cincinnati)

Why not: Always strong in basketball, but adds little prestige in football. Still up-and-coming in Big East.

Chances: 35 percent

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