Conference Expansion to Spread West to East?

June 3, 2010

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation

On Thursday afternoon, the ‘Twitterverse’ exploded with Chip Brown’s column on Orangebloods.com, a site that covers Texas Longhorns football on the Yahoo/Rivals network, that Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Colorado, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were going to receive an invitation to join the Pac 10.

OK…we’ve been down this road before, right? Not too long ago, too, when 810 WHB out of Kansas City reported on its website that Nebraska and Missouri were on the verge of getting invitations to join the Big Ten…until the Big Ten came out and said that it’s timeframe of 12 to 18 months that it set forth in December was still what it was working off of…

Earlier this week, Cal’s Chancellor said the following at a booster club event out west, that he would be “surprised if something did not happen [at the Pac 10 meetings this coming week] that revolutionized college athletics.”

I ruminated on that bit on Wednesday night after reading it, and sort of wrote it off, thinking (possibly arrogantly) that the Big Ten was going to be the one that cast the first major stones in collegiate conference realignment and everyone else was going to react to it. I have felt that the Pac 10 could move first, adding Colorado and Utah, since BYU seemed highly unlikely because of their unwillingness to play on Sunday’s, which could cause basketball scheduling headaches, among other sporting event scheduling issues.

But I didn’t see a possible six team addition coming, and I certainly never gave thought to the Pac 10 poaching half of the Big 12.

Back to the first link in this offering, Chip Brown’s column. Some of you may not know Chip, but I do. I have had him on my radio show in the past, as recently as the 2006 Alamo Bowl when Iowa played Texas. He was working for the Dallas Morning News at the time, and he has a solid reputation. I would say the same about Kevin Kietzman of 810 WHB who wrote the item on their website related to Missouri and Nebraska and the Big Ten.

I think there is likely some shreds of truth in both reports, even though the Big Ten sort of shot down the timeline of the 810 report, at least for now. I do believe that Nebraska and Missouri have been contacted by some Big Ten entity, likely in an unofficial capacity, to tell them to get ready…and I believe Kietzman’s sources came from Missouri. It would also not surprised me if we eventually learn that some folks from Nebraska are in Chicago next week when the Big Ten’s Presidents and Chancellors meet.

The ramifications of what is taking place in Kansas City right now at the Big 12 meetings is enormous. Dan Beebe, their commissioner, cancelled a Thursday afternoon press conference, rather abruptly. That’s not normal. Scott Dochterman of the Gazette is down in Kansas City and posted via his twitter account that the scene in Kansas City where these events are/are not taking place is “beyond crazy”. A Boulder newspaper is reporting that Buffalos AD is saying the Pac 10 is getting ready to invite these six teams, corroborating Chip Brown’s story. However, the Pac 10 commissioner is telling the LA Times that no decisions have been made and no offers have been extended. UPDATE: as of 8:40pm, the CU AD is backing off his previous statement related to the invites coming from the Pac 10.

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We are talking about possibly eight members of the Big 12 in some state of transition. The four that are left out of this latest round of speculation are Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State.

After thinking quite a bit about the possible six team exodus of teams from the Big 12 to the Pac 10, it makes sense.

The Pac 10 was going to have a hard time forming its own TV network and having it create anywhere near the value of the Big Ten Network without adding some central time zone members. Getting six of those, including Oklahoma and Texas, would be huge. California and Texas, the states, are #1 and #2 in population. But the Pacific time zone is three hours behind the eastern time zone, which has a lot of sway in college athletics. Getting central time zone kickoff windows for football is huge. Possibly adjusting traditional Saturday night kickoffs that take place at 10:00pm eastern to say, 8:00pm eastern, which is 5pm pacific, shouldnt be that big of a deal. 1pm central time kicks would also be a good window, as that is 11am pacific. These things matter, and matter a lot. If Texas is involved in Pac 10 expansion, this sort of stuff can happen.

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Traditional rivalries would also be kept intact and I think fans could swallow this…

How does this affect the Big Ten? If the mass exodus happened, Texas is obviously off the Big Ten’s radar…Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick has stated that the Irish would like to remain independent, but that there could be seismic shifts that take place which forces Notre Dame to change its stance. This would be a seismic shift. If Texas is off the table I think that means the Big Ten could take at least two teams from the Big East; Rutgers and one more. I think the ACC is going to lose someone, too, possibly Maryland…I think South Florida will wind up in the ACC someday…the Big East is going to implode.

Notre Dame could quickly find itself on an island with possibly fewer dance partners to flesh out its independent schedule. Conferences could play one or two extra league games in the future…that would really hammer ND. The Big Ten could tell the Irish that we are not playing you anymore.

I can envision a scenario where Notre Dame has been talking independent all this time, but internally knowing that they are probably going to have to give in…this ‘seismic shift’ scenario happens, and Swarbrick can tell the boosters and alums that he wanted to fight to remain independent, but that the Irish have no choice but to join the Big Ten.

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This is all speculation…but I can see these scenarios taking place. Nebraska and Missouri in the Big Ten would seem even more likely, and the Big Ten adding five would almost be a certainty.

When it all shakes out, I see there being four or five superconferences. Big Ten, SEC, Pacific Plains, SEC and ACC. 16 for the Pac 10, Big Ten and SEC. There’s 48 teams right there and there are less than 70 BCS teams right now. The ACC will need to fill out it’s dance card, and the Big East will be cannibalized by them and the Big Ten. Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor and Houston possibly join the Mountain West..

I haven’t had time to detail it all out, and probably won’t until there is concrete reason to do so.

But the Thursday talk, or lack there of, coming from the Big 12 meetings in Kansas City

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