Expansion Winners, Losers, And Undecideds

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↵This summer's blockbuster expansion/realignment rumors appear to have petered out with four moves: Nebraska to the Big Ten, Boise State to the Mountain West, and Colorado and Utah to the Pac-10. Now that it seems like everyone's done with the skullduggery, it's the time to evaluate how everyone made out: ↵

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Winners

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↵Nebraska. They've extracted themselves from an abusive relationship and now find themselves in a football conference approximately the equal of the one they left minus the revenue imbalance and plus many millions of dollars. Also, Big Ten membership should gradually improve Nebraska's academic reputation. With the Big 12 North descending into scrubbitude, losing Nebraska's longstanding Big Eight rivalries seems like something less than a huge deal. Heck, if they want to they can play Oklahoma even more often now. ↵

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↵Utah. This is not quite confirmed, but the Utah Rivals site is reporting that by next week the Utes will announce their entry into the Pac-10. This, unlike the rest of the conference kerfuffle, is a move so logical that it hardly needs to be reported. Once actually reported, you can take it to the bank. The Pac-10 isn't going to rearrange its schedule just to add Colorado, and there is literally no other school available that the Pac-10 would want to add. Obviously, moving into a BCS conference is an enormous boost for a Utah program that hardly needs one. ↵

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↵Nonconference scheduling. From the fan's perspective, at least. The Big 12 is going to nine conference games, removing one more opportunity for Texas and OU to schedule North Texas. Meanwhile, the Pac-10 was at nine and may maintain that, attendance on the west coast being highly dependent on the quality of opponent. Certain parties in the Big Ten have been pushing for nine conference games despite its mathematical impossibility for years now; the addition of Nebraska may see that come to fruition. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, teams displaced from their traditional rivals will find it hard to line up a series of tomato cans when fans (and possibly legislators) will demand some of the old traditions be kept. Utah-BYU will be a fixture. Nebraska is going to have one or two games a year against Big 12 competition or Colorado. Colorado will probably do the same. ↵

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↵All of this creates fewer opportunities to load up on the Western Kentuckys of the world, and more actual games between evenly-matched opponents. ↵

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↵Notre Dame and the Big East. Any change to the status quo in the Big East could have torn the conference apart, forcing the members of the conference to suck it up and add schools with "East" or "Central" in their names and possibly causing a split between football teams and the Catholic basketball schools. That could have left Notre Dame with an untenable situation for their sports other than football, which would have hurt those sports or forced the school into the Big Ten. Nothing happened the Big East, and that's the way the BCS Junior conference likes it. ↵

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Losers

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↵The Mountain West. The addition of Boise State brought the upstart league this close to the automatic BCS bid that had the potential to catapult them into revenue parity with the Big East. Losing its flagship school will have them right where they were before the year started: close, but not close enough. ↵

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↵Missouri. The #1 most screwed school, a nouveau-riche college football power that is now the king of the dwarves in the BIg 12. Missouri went from rattling its saber about the Big 12's unequal revenue sharing to meekly signing over Colorado and Nebraska's exit fees to Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Texas. ↵

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↵Everyone else in the Big 12 other than those three. Obviously, and because of that ↵

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↵The Big 12 ten years from now. Missouri blog Rock M Nation foresees a repeat of this situation in the future: ↵

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↵⇥Revenue sharing and inequality are eventually going to kill this conference.  It is almost certainly going to happen one day.  As soon as this TV deal fails to suffice in comparison to that of other major conferences, the same issues are going to pop up.  This is only a band-aid, and it's hard to see it as anything but that.  And part of the reason I felt so disappointed when this was announced was simply that ... honestly, I wanted to be done with this.  I wanted this to be the Summer of Expansion, and I wanted to be done with the issue forever and ever (unless they ended up in a worse conference, ahem). ↵⇥

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↵The resentment built up over the summer is a recipe for departure as soon as it is contractually possible and the situation makes it feasible. If the Mountain West manages to snag a BCS autobidnow doubtful with Utah out the door but ten years is a long timethey could get imperial down the road. By that point certain schools could look at their options and pick being the big fish. That's what Texas did, after all. ↵

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Folks Not Quite Sure How They Feel

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↵The Big Ten. Nebraska is a fine addition for football and various other non-revenue sports but is terrible at basketball and hardly expands the reach of the Big Ten Network, which will now be on TV in the nation's 38th most populous state and possibly the Dakotas. That's not nothing, but it's not much, either. The Big Ten's divisions figure to be awkwardly non-geographic and possibly unbalanced, and meanwhile they've filled that precious 12th slot with a team that is Not Notre Dame. ↵

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↵Texas. You win for now, Longhorn Death Star, but the conference is now down its championship game, #3 football school, and #3 market. You've given up one of your cake nonconference games for more matchups with Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and Missouri. Your conference is now the Big East Plus Texas. Meanwhile, any school still laboring under the impression that you care about anything other than your own glorification is solidly in need of relationship therapy. You can lock the remnants of the Big 12 North in with your for a decade but the future remains rocky. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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