Baylor to the Pac-10! A 22-team conference! The Big 12 still thinking it has some modicum of control over what happens! Texas in the eye of the storm! All this and more as the Conference Expansion Carousel spins!
Ultimatum. This was the splashy news this morning, because "ultimatum" is a fun word to say, I guess: The Big 12 has given Nebraska and Missouri a deadline to commit to the conference or explore joining the Big Ten. I'm not entirely sure why those two teams are the ones the Big 12 is focusing on, though. After all, their biggest problem should be...â†µ
Texas Defection. ...the chance that every Texas team in the Big 12 is now a Pac-10 target. Apparently, Texas politicians are okay with the biggest steer on the range, Texas, leaving for the Pac-10—as long as Baylor is invited, too. As those teams would be part of the six-team exodus that would also likely include Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma, it might mean the Big 12 loses half its conference and the Texas TV market in one fell swoop. And that would be bad. But then, so would...â†µ
Total Assimilation. ...the full merger of all 12 Big 12 schools with the Pac-10. That's one of four scenarios the Pac-10 has before it. It's probably a less appealing one than the six-team raid, but it might be second on the list, ahead of adding Colorado and Utah to form a Pac-12 and standing pat.â†µ
But the looming doom and gloom of those scenarios is probably just a distant dark sky at the moment, because Texas has no incentive to rush to anything except its best deal.â†µ
The Longhorns are the bluest of blue-chip stocks on the college football trading floor, and in the enviable position of being able to marginally improve on a pile of riches or stand pat with a fortune every other program envies.â†µ
UT doesn't need to be hooked up with other teams to be raking in the dough (cough, Iowa State and Kansas State, cough), and has been rumored to be working on its own TV network for years. If the primary allure of the Pac-10 is the riches of a prospective TV network, why should Texas take on more travel costs for a bit more revenue when staying put and working its own broadcast contract out might make more sense and cents?â†µ
And what if the SEC comes calling? Nothing's been said publicly just yet, but there's a lot of logic to a marriage of college football's richest conference and its richest team, both in ledgers and on maps.â†µ
The carousel hasn't stopped spinning yet. With conference presidents' meetings ending today, this might be the day for a bold move. Or it might not, if new variables like the SEC come into play. Lots of things are happening, many rumors are flying, and calling it all crazy would be an understatement.â†µ
But it's not done yet. Not nearly.â†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.