The fight for the 2009-10 BCS championship is over, the recruiting battle for national signing day success has been waged, and the annual espionage of coaching changes has come to a close. But has the war for college football dominance truly been won?
In an era of skyrocketing revenue hauls from television contracts, media rights, branded products, bowl games, ticket sales, and donations from football-crazy boosters, this past season shot into hyperdrive as the SEC signed two mega-deals for the TV rights to their games. $3.5 billion (yes that is with a "B") over a 15-year span will fill the athletic departments of the schools in the SEC as they gain national exposure on ESPN and CBS.
The SEC cashed in on their threat to move towards creating their very own TV network, as their northern rival, the Big Ten, had already pioneered as a successful model for an athletic conference. The 11 members of the Big Ten split a $1 billion contract on ESPN in addition to an estimated $2.8 billion deal from their now-established Big Ten Network.
“It’ll be interesting to see,” Osborne said. “It isn’t something I stay up at night worrying about. Everybody’s aware there may be some realignment. Nobody knows quite what’s going to happen. I’m sure Dan Beebe and others in the Big XII are looking at this, too.” (5)
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon had his own say:
"I'm not going to say anything bad about the Big XII, but when you compare Oklahoma State to Northwestern, when you compare Texas Tech to Wisconsin, I mean, you begin looking at educational possibilities that are worth looking at," Nixon said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"If a significant conference with a long history of academic and athletic excellence talks about you joining them, you shouldn't just say, `We're from the old Big 8 and I remember when ...
"If they want to talk, we should talk, and we should listen," Nixon added. (6)
Many educated and informed reports have listed the Pac-10 might target Colorado in an expansion move (7). And recent reports have come out of the CU athletic department that they would seriously weight such a move.
And, of course, the big fish of the Big XII, the University of Texas, has a lot of buzz in courting the Big Ten's attention:
“There have been preliminary exchanges between the Big Ten and Texas,” the source told the Journal-World on Wednesday. “People will deny that, but it’s accurate.” (8)
So, given that troubling environment for the continuity of the Big XII conference, wouldn't a prudent commissioner want to ensure their fanbase that they are taking steps to consolidate their members?
The Mountain West Conference has a "Plan B" if it directly or indirectly loses membership to Pac-10 expansion. (9)
1). Fire the expansion "pre-emptive strike":