Rather than attempting to construct another article on conference expansion, I figured I'd try to avoid muddling the picture further (at least for a day) by giving you the option of wading through it all report by report and at your own discretion.
Just promise me you'll ingest all the info in moderation, because the overload can get pretty nauseating.
Here we go:
- First off, the game appears to be officially on, as Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott got the thumbs-up from conference presidents and chancellors Sunday to explore expansion options
- And those options are plentiful and may include luring away half of the Big 12, an actual full-on merger with the Big 12, no activity at all, or dispensing a pair of "well-equipped" USC Song Girls to hypnotize Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany into folding his cards. That last one probably isn't being considered by Scott, but perhaps it should be
- OK, so what about a timeline? Well, indications are things will be sewn up by the end of the year; meanwhile, it's possible things could be accelerated at an extremely high rate, with an announcement of the Pac-10's intentions coming during the conference's media days in late July
- And those intentions are apparently already pretty clear, at least according to Chip Brown, the Orangebloods.com writer who initially blew the lid off of this whole saga
- The only snag, however, appears to be in the event the Pac-10 would expand to include six Big 12 teams, whether the final slot would belong to Colorado or Baylor
- Speaking of Baylor, which weaseled its way into the Big 12 upon the conference's inception thanks to the efforts of then-Texas Governor —and BU alum—Ann Richards, a pack of ravenous Lone Star State legislators, in conjunction with newly-appointed Baylor president Kenneth Starr (yes, that Kenneth Starr), is hell-bent on ensuring the Bears aren't left behind by their in-state buddies
According to one Texas politician, whose quote is too good (or arrogant) to pass up: ""If you're going to have an exported commodity involved in this, do you think we're going to allow a school from outside the state of Texas to replace one of our schools in the Big 12 South? I don't think so."
- While I'm on the topics of arrogance and the state of Texas, let's attempt to intertwine the two, which should not be all that hard. It's obvious and has been well-documented that Texas is in a win-win situation here.
Any conference in America would kill to have the Longhorns' prestige, academic prowess, athletic success, and deep, deep, deep pockets under its umbrella. And, of course, Texas knows it. Yet, the last thing the Longhorns want is to leave the Big 12, which would all but end the school's hopes of launching its own TV network.
To that end, they are flinging what appears to be propaganda, essentially in an effort to strongarm Big 12 wanderers Missouri and Nebraska into staying put and keeping the conference intact while entertaining expansion options themselves. How else do you explain that to this point, the two most crucial reports surrounding the Big 12/Pac-10 saga have originated in Austin—first the Chip Brown report in Orangebloods.com and then American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohl's revelation that the Big 12 has given a week-long deadline to the Tigers and Huskers. By the way, both writers cited sources that are currently, and may forever remain, nameless. Just sayin'.
- While I'm on the topic of hypotheticals, how different would things be right now if the Big 12 were still being run by former commissioner Kevin Weiberg, who allegedly left the conference after he couldn't gain support for the creation of a Big 12 Network and then played a crucial role in getting the Big Ten Network up and running. One more thing: Weiberg was hired in February by Larry Scott to serve as the Pac-10's deputy commissioner
- As far as Weiberg's successor, Dan Beebe, if you're going to blame him for the demise of the Big 12 conference, do so for what he did (or didn't do) more than two years ago
- Meanwhile, on the other side of things, officials from Missouri and Nebraska aren't taking the bait by downplaying the whole ultimatum talk, which serves the Big 12 right for previously stating it had put a confidential "process" in place to safeguard against the implosion of the conference
- If nothing else, the silence on behalf their North counterparts is nothing short of excruciating for folks in Lawrence, Manhattan, and Ames, where a majority of the victims of the expansion crossfire reside
- And what of the Big Ten, which insinuated after its meetings in Chicago Sunday that an expansion deadline may now be hastened in the wake of the Pac-10's newfound intentions
- Channelling his inner-Larry Scott, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Sunday that his conference is still considering any and all options, which may include adding a gang of teams, one team (Notre Dame), or no teams at all
- If Delany's move is to expand the Big Ten to 16 teams, thus matching Scott's proposition, look for Missouri, Nebraska, either Pittsburgh or Rutgers, and Syracuse, which could be used as leverage to get the Irish to commit in fear of the Big East collapsing
- Lastly, to put a huge ribbon on all of this, here's the latest source of smoke