Lest many of you forget or simply don't care, I expended a little bit of energy last week shooting down a rumor claiming an anonymous source out of St. Louis reported that Missouri, in addition to several other schools, was leaving its current conference to join the Big Ten.
The only problem? The report, in excluding some crucial information, led us to assume that not only did the Big Ten extend an invitation, but Missouri accepted the offer — both of which would completely undercut Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany's recent statement that his original 12- to 18-month timeline for compiling potential expansion candidates was still intact.
With that being said, what are we to make of the news that came across the wire Monday afternoon, and has since spread across the Web like a raging brush fire or bad rash — whichever is worse?
Citing "multiple sources close to the negotiations," Sports Radio 810 WHB in Kansas City is reporting that the Big Ten has extened initial offers to a group of four schools that includes Missouri and Big 12 rival Nebraska.
Rutgers and Notre Dame, whose acceptance of the offer will reportedly determine whether the Big Ten expands to 14 or 16 teams, are the other two schools.
According the report: "Big Ten representatives have also told Missouri officials they would like to have the entire expansion process wrapped up this summer with a formal announcement coming no later than July."
As some of you may very well know, I am a proud Missouri alum, and while initially skeptical of the idea of expansion, I have grown more and more fond of MU making the switch and seizing its financial, athletic, and academic advantages.
But you'll have to excuse my tepid reaction to this latest bit of news, which, upon initial inspection, is no different from what we've been reading for weeks now.
I'm not saying Missouri hasn't been invited to join the Big Ten. I'm not discrediting Kevin Kietzman, the author of the WHB report, nor am I saying the chances of MU receiving an invite are any less today than they were yesterday.
In my opinion, Missouri to the Big Ten is going to happen.
What I am saying is that I am choosing to be cautious. Or perphaps "skeptical" would be the better word.
I will withhold any and all emotion until Big Ten expansion is made official, unequivocally and irrefutably. And that means getting the announcement from the mouth of Delany himself.
I could be wrong. Maybe this thing is done.
As we speak, Missouri, Nebraska, Rutgers, and Notre Dame could all be partipating in one huge clandescent meeting to mull over today's announcement. Or each school could have already given its behind-the-scenes answer to the Big Ten, resulting in a conference that will soon be referred to as the Big 12. Or 13. Or 14.
Unofficially, behind closed doors, MU officials may be shaking hands, sipping champagne, reveling in a momentous occasion, and celebrating the school's involvement in something that could drastically alter the landscape of collegiate athletics forever.
I could go on and on.
The implications of the expansion of the Big Ten are massive, to say the least. But, as I have said before, I won't be in the room to watch the dominoes topple one another until this whole scenario's No. 1 source (Delany) gives me a reason to do so.
Just for the hell of it, here's what other outlets are saying in the wake of today's expansion news:
- Dallas Morning News, which received confirmation from a Nebraska spokesperson that an invite has indeed not been offered
- The Post-Standard (Syracuse)
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch
- Kansas City Star, which received confirmation from Missouri officials that an invite has not been offered
- Lincoln Journal-Star
- The Star-Ledger (New Jersey), which received a ho-hum response from Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti