A Definitely Futile Conference Expansion Explainer

College football blew up over the weekend with news that the Pac-10 had prepared an audacious offer to the six most attractive Big 12 schools in an effort to preempt the Big Ten's glacially-paced imperialist thrust. Yesterday Andy covered the span of the madness, which at one point included a full merger to create a 22-team conference; here's a futile attempt to answer any lingering questions. This is the universe ten nanoseconds after the Big Bang: come back tomorrow and that pig may be a diamond.

Anyway:

Did Jack Swarbrick spend many hours with Big Ten presidents over the weekend?

No. This thing got started by an AP story that claimed the Notre Dame AD was locked in fevered discussion with the Big Ten yesterday, causing message boards all over to blow up. (Home site examples one and two.) After Notre Dame snarkily denied such a thing ever happened…

⇥

⇥I think the 150 people that attended the graduation open house of Jack Swarbrick's son today in Indianapolis would help me deny that Jack was in attendance at the Big Ten meetings today in Chicago. I hate to have to throw cold water on yet another "report" regarding Notre Dame and the Big Ten, but like many "reports" before this one, there isn't any validity to it. ⇥

…the AP story was silently updated to omit any reference to Swarbrick, further proving that the AP isn't quite with it.

So Notre Dame is totally out of the picture?

Not necessarily. Orangebloods' Chip Brown, the one Reporter Type Person whose wild scenarios appear to be based on fact, offered up this tweet:

⇥

⇥Was just told by an athletic director with knowledge of the Big Ten's plans that Notre Dame "may be on the clock as well" in talks with B10.⇥

That's third hand since I'm betting that's a Big 12 AD given Brown's beat, but he did follow that up with a report that ND is "still listening" and the governing board is "apparently split down the middle on the decision." The Big Ten will be happy to sit at 12 if they get the Irish. ND Nation has duly exploded.

What does Texas actually want to do?

From a football standpoint, the Pac-10 is willing to hold its nose and admit Oklahoma, whose academics have reportedly made it a nonstarter when it comes to the Big Ten. They have also sucked it up and dealt with the "Tech problem" that the Big Ten is still leery of, and they may even be so desperate that they boot Colorado—a team that makes more sense as a Pac-10 school than any other member of the Big 12—in favor of perpetually useless Baylor because members of the Texas legislature are throwing their usual hissy about the place. From UT's perspective, the revamped Pac-10 would basically be a version of the Big 12 South with the Arizona schools added in. In addition, Texas's national power baseball program would greatly prefer the Pac-10 to the Big 10, since the former is a power conference and the latter is the baseball equivalent of the Missouri Valley.

On the other hand, the Big Ten expansion would probably draw the line at A&M, leaving Texas with a big political mess and a conference division that looks something like Texas-A&M-Missouri-Nebraska-Iowa-Wisconsin-Minnesota-ND. That's a significantly more jarring move. Why would they do it? Money, more money than football can ever hope to generate:

⇥

⇥The Big Ten has the CIC, which actually has helped Penn State dramatically improve its research budget. For those who want to know, Penn State was only slightly above Texas in terms of research money back in the early 90s. Now Penn State has a lead of around $200M+ on Texas and it’s only going to get bigger.⇥

⇥

⇥One other point, Stanford/Cal will never ever approve a CIC with Arizona State/Oklahoma/Oklahoma State/Texas Tech.⇥

The Pac-16 is a crazy mélange of good and terrible schools so different that their relationships end when the games do. The Big Ten is a ton of research-mad state schools that suck up a ton of federal grants. Off the field, the Big Ten makes more sense.

What is the Big 12 going to do if Nebraska and Missouri don't respond?

Well, possibility #1 is disintegrate entirely. Without the looming Pac-16, an ultimatum delivered to Nebraska and Mizzou means nothing: refusing to respond will not get the two kicked out of the league because they are the two linchpin schools of the Big 12 North and potential replacements like Utah and TCU are far less appealing. Now that 60% of the rest of the league has an option, the ultimatum has teeth.

How would the league enforce Nebraska and Mizzou deciding to stay?

Signing a contract that would require them to give a bunch of money if they left, presumably. That would not stop anyone from leaving, but it would extort a little bit more money out of potentially disloyal teams.

Why does Baylor have so much sway?

I have no idea. There is apparently a block of "15 legislators" ready to man the barricades and defend the Bears' undeserved place amongst teams that matter, causing Colorado to get dropped for the Bears in the latest round of speculation. Iowa State is feverishly trying to relocate to Dallas as we speak.

Can a small group of dedicated Baptists really do anything of consequence to the flagship university of the state? Wouldn't any punitive measures against Texas be shot down by what I assume is a horde of Longhorn alums in the state government, especially if A&M got to go along for the ride?

As of yesterday, it appears the answer to these questions was "no." A blunt assessment from a Baylor regent and Texas government lobbyist leading the BCS Bears charge:

⇥

⇥"My guess is that Colorado hasn't taken enough broadside hits to sink their boat yet and they may well be on the invite list," Jones said. "I hope I'm wrong. But there's still time left to change the scoreboard. We aren't through." ⇥

Everyone not directly affiliated with Baylor hopes he's right.

Boise State?

Boise what? We're at college football apocalypse DEFCON2. Boise will have to wait to see where the shattered remnants of the Big 12 end up.

How long will this post be valid?

Six seconds.

↵

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

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