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Is This Expansion Explosion Week?

June 6, 2010

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation

It’s been an amazing 72 hours on the college conference expansion front. If you have been living under a rock, or rather, have been living a normal life and have missed what went on since late last week, here are a some links that will help you catch up:

Big Ten on Fast Track for Expansion?
Conference Expansion to Head West to East?

Then today, we have some interesting information that has come to the surface out of the Pac 10 Presidents and Chancellors annual meeting.

The Pac 10 Commish has been given the authority to push forward on Pac 10 expansion, which could mean they could start ‘handing out’ invitations. Someone also bought the url to pac16sports.com back on May 13th. How about them apples?

In light of this, the Big Ten said on Sunday that while they are not altering their process, they may alter their timeline. There are a few people I am trading emails with that have proven to have a pretty decent idea of what is going on in Lincoln, Nebraska and they are saying that something could go down on the Big Ten/Nebraska front this week. The Big 12 has given Nebraska and Missouri a 5pm Friday timeline, so that would jive a bit. But I am not certain about this, and I don’t know that anyone is.

The Orangeblood.com information has been the most verified on the expansion front thus far, along with the Chicago Tribune’s reports from mid-April that said the Big Ten was working on a fast track. While the Big Ten later denied those reports in mid-May, recent emails (linked above) from Ohio State’s President suggest otherwise.

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I have felt for a while, and others are talking about it this weekend, that if the Big Ten could get Notre Dame to join the league, they might be content with adding just one team and stop right there. While I still think that is a possibility, I also think they could add Nebraska and Missouri and then spend a little more time waiting on Notre Dame to make up its mind.

Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick has made it clear that the Irish would rather remain independent, but he also said that things could happen that cause a “seismic shift” with regards to the landscape of conference realignment that would give Notre Dame few choices other than to join a conference.

The rumored Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Colorado, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to the Pac 10 is a seismic shift that few saw coming. The Associated Press reported on Sunday that Swarbrick was in Chicago on Sunday at the meeting with the Big Ten Presidents and Chancellors. Hmmm UPDATE: College Football Talk received an email from Notre Dame saying Swarbrick was not at the meetings in Chicago, so the Associated Press story was inaccurate.

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Now, Texas lawmakers are trying to apply in state pressure that would have Texas try and convince the Pac 10 to drop Colorado and bring Baylor along.

All of this are the labor pains of what is to come. These are the smoke signals that will turn into the beginning of radical realignment in college athletics. The first shot fired across the bow came from the Big Ten back in December when it released a statement saying it was going to explore adding to its ranks. The Pac 10 has chosen to be proactive and not reactive. The Big Ten and the Pac 10 have had longstanding relationships with the Rose Bowl, and I believe they still want to keep their solid relationship intact. Texas to the Pac 10, along with several of its rivals, makes more sense than Texas to the Big Ten, for Texas and its fans.

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There is still the chance that Texas and its rivals stay put, but it seems that Nebraska may be the one holding those cards…if Nebraska would get an invite to the Big Ten and take it, then the Big 12 is history…or at least, that is what some want you to believe. It may be reality, or it may be Texas and Oklahoma using Nebraska as a straw man for the eventual blame game and bad PR that will come out of this from places like Kansas City, Ames, Manhattan and either Boulder or Waco. The three or four schools that get left behind from the Big 12 are going to kick and scream, and understandably so. No one wants to go down in the history books as being ‘THE’ school that started the tumblers rolling, because its not just going to affect the Big 12, it will impact the Big East and ACC, too. It will be the first domino in a brave new college athletics landscape.

That’s a big tag to wear around your neck, in a way. But make no mistake about it…If there is going to be a blame game on the part of some, Texas gets to wear that scarlet letter…or some down south will point to Chicago and say the Big Ten started it all. However, the Big Ten is not going to be the conference that acts first…and Texas is the king daddy in most of these scenarios. So Hook ’em.

One final note…Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports tweeted on Sunday evening that according to state law, Kansas and Kansas State must stay together. There are some Iowa State fans talking about how the Iowa Board of Regents should try to pull Iowa out of the Big Ten as a piece of leverage to help them get into the Big Ten…umm…next.

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