Did Impending Big Ten Expansion Cause a Big 12 Combustion?

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Did Impending Big Ten Expansion Cause a Big 12 Combustion?
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

"I love the smell of napalm in the morning...smells like victory." - Robert Duvall, Apocalypse Now

Somewhere sits Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany with a big smile covering his face.

Reports started to surface Thursday during the annual Big 12 meetings suggesting the Pac-10 conference is pondering the idea of offering six Big 12 schools an invitation to join its league as part of a new southern division.

One report had Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Colorado as the potential invitees. The Daily Camera out of Boulder, Colo. reported that Colorado AD Mike Bohn has “been led to believe” that the Pac-10 would possibly put the rumored teams in a division with current Pac-10 members Arizona and Arizona State.

"The longer that we were together in Kansas City, it appeared that the rumor or speculation did have some validity to it,” Bohn told the Daily Camera.

The Big 12 formed in 1996 when the Big Eight Conference combined with four members of the Southwest Conference. Tension has existed from the beginning, due in large part to how the conference distributes television revenue unequally. 

In recent months, that tension has been mixed with the frenzy of rumors swirling about the Big Ten's possibility of expansion. Several rumors have involved major Big 12 teams like Texas and Nebraska, with strong indications that Nebraska is interested.

As the Cedar Rapids Gazette's Scott Dochterman points out , the tension and speculation boiled over when Big 12 Conference commissioner Dan Beebe first delayed then canceled a scheduled news conference to discuss the league meetings. Beebe declined to comment. 

“There are so many distractions when you get into all of the rumors and speculation,” Missouri AD Mike Alden mentioned to reporters . “When people start to guess on things, that’s when it becomes troublesome.”

Coincidentally, the Pac-10 Conference meetings are set to take place soon, though, commissioner Larry Scott denied that the league has extended invitations.  

“While many interesting scenarios have been suggested in numerous news reports, around the country, we remain focused on a thorough evaluation process that examines all of the options for increasing the value of the conference for our member institutions, our student athletes, and our fans," Scott explained.

"We have not developed any definitive plans. We have not extended any invitations for expansion and we do not anticipate any such decisions in the near term.”

Bleacher Report's Larry Burton suggests that the Big Ten may try to break up the Big East to force Notre Dame's hand to join. Burton presents a good argument, but what if commissioner Delany has something else in mind?

What if Delany's real goal was to help break apart the Big 12 to see where the chips may fall?

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